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Friday, August 10, 2012

Depressing Facts For New Graduates

Normally I have a veterinary student that works the summers with us, learning the ropes of being a small animal veterinarian.  Every year or two we have a new student as the previous ones enter senior clinics and graduate.  So I've gotten to keep up with the life of a vet student even after graduating myself.  Yesterday I was going over the recent article on the veterinary job prospects with my current student, and I think that I depressed her.

This isn't a good time going into veterinary medicine, as hard as that may be to say.  Many people grow up wanting to be vets and put their whole hearts into it.  They work hard, get good grades, and beat out the competition to make it into school.  Then they go through absolute misery for four years to get their degree.  Once they graduate, they have so much hope and excitement.  They finally did it!  They finally achieved their dream!  And suddenly reality hits.  They have a hard time finding a job and have a hard time making enough to pay their student loans and other bills.

Katie made the following comment on yesterday's blog (just in case people don't read the comments): 

I am a 2011 graduate and pursued an equine internship right out of school thinking that I would do a surgical residency. There are even less equine jobs than small animal jobs and I am still looking for work in either small or large. It'd be nice to have a job, not even to mention a job that pays well;-P Most of my classmates have over $140,000 in debt from vet school alone. It's a mortgage. I don't know what the answer is to the rising dilemma, but it disheartens me to think that there are new veterinarians coming out every year that will be in my same situation, if not worse.

This is the harsh reality facing newly graduated veterinarians.  And unfortunately all of the trends seem to show that it will be getting worse.  While my current student will have significant challenges when she graduates in 2013, I can't imagine what the class of 2017 will face, let alone beyond that.  Burdensome and overwhelming debt is racked up for very low pay and not even a guarantee of a job.

It is downright depressing.  And it will kill the dreams of many people as well as affect the profession as a whole.  Many people are discussing the issue and I have seen many suggestions made, but nobody seems to be doing anything about the problem.  I think that the leaders in our profession are spending too much time talking and not enough time acting.  They are letting down our current students, people considering a career, and even the clients.

It makes me glad that I graduated 15 years ago and have established myself successfully.  It is much harder to do so nowadays.


  1. International problem too....

    Our NZ Vet President wrote this last month after our conference.

    "An issue in Australia is the near tsunami of veterinary students about to graduate from Australian schools; next year, it is expected that 800 vet students will graduate for a population of about 22.3 million, compared with total US graduates of about 1,800 for a population of 311 million. Given the reciprocity of veterinary
    qualifications between our countries, this will have a major impact on our veterinary employment market, too. It will be a real test of our veterinary degrees as broadly science- based programmes and will require many graduates to find employment in non-clinical roles in society."

    and this was interesting....

    There will be a change of thinking - and vet clinics will need to get smarter - become one stop shops with more facilities and a reason for people to stay there - coffee shop/playground/dog park/ doggy day care/ grooming/ who knows!

  2. This is remarkably similar to pharmacy school. The outlook for when I graduate is slim, even with a residency. I had no idea vets faced the same outlook.

  3. What's the situation like for graduates interested in pursuing research focused positions or teaching positions?

  4. I'm not sure about teaching, though they way they're opening schools it may be an area to consider. However, research is absolutely a field to go into. The demand there is great, and that industry tends to pay the highest salaries.

  5. That's sad to hear. I thought the government was ruining medicine and pharmacy so I thought becoming a vet was the smartest thing to do.

    Thanks for the reality check!


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