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2013 February 27 Wednesday
Too Many Veterinarians And Big Vet School Debts

The vast majority of people going to veterinarian school are female. Suppose you meet one. She's cute, smart, caring. Does she make for good long term relationship material? Only if you are rich. Declining demand for vet services combined with rising costs of veterinary schools mean heavily debt-laden vets spend their money on debt service. The comments on this NY Times article include some hard-headed realists.

But starting salaries have sunk by about 13 percent during the same 10-year period, in inflation-adjusted terms, to $45,575 a year, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

...

Today, the ratio of debt to income for the average new vet is roughly double that of M.D.ís, according to Malcolm Getz, an economist at Vanderbilt University.

These young women should be retrained to be nurse practitioners who will see human patients.

The article is one big joke on the absurdity of higher education. Schools trying to make more money expand their classes. More suckers sign up for study, debt accumulation, and careers of low salaries. What a waste of smart minds.

Even worse, a US government program that allows students to walk away from some of their debts after 10 to 25 years reduces the pain from choosing low paying majors. We need more people who work in higher value jobs. We should stop subsidizing the study of veterinary, sociology, anthropology, arts, and countless other majors that are paths to downward mobility. The US government should stop luring people into dead end jobs and low pay.

Any degree program eligible for federal student loans and grants should be required to provide data comparing that degree's market value to other degrees at graduation and in later years. Debt service costs should be spellied out as a percentage of expected take-home income.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 February 27 09:40 PM 


Comments
Old Bruin EE said at February 28, 2013 12:24 AM:

That is remarkable. In the 1980s, becoming a veterinarian was considered harder than becoming a physician, because the number of veterinary schools were so limited (~30 in the US). I had no idea that their salaries had declined so much. I'm guessing that with so many mothers in the workforce, there is not enough time or energy left to raise a family pet, so with the drop in demand for services, so too goes the veterinary fees.

On the other hand, single women tend to have big dogs as pets to act as companions and protectors, in lieu of a husband. Thus I'm still not sure why the demand for veterinarians has fallen so much. In the days when James Herriot books were so popular, the vet was portrayed as a very busy professional who barely had time to eat dinner with his family, because he was on call so much. So what happened to the demand in this field?

I_Affe said at February 28, 2013 5:37 AM:

That's a little surprising considering Americans spent $52 billion on their pets in 2012.

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/these-4-charts-explain-exactly-how-americans-spend-52-billion-on-our-pets-in-a-year/273446/

Old Bruin EE, I don't know where you got the idea that women get big dogs as pets in place of husbands. The stereotype is that women love little yappy dogs and cats, especially as they get older.

Black Death said at February 28, 2013 6:10 AM:

I have dogs and cats, and I've always enjoyed working with my veterinarian friends. So I was surprised to read about how bad the job situation is for them. The lady in the NYT article, Dr. Schafer, is sort of the perfect storm of what's wrong with going into veterinary medicine nowadays. There are only 28 accredited DVM schools in the US, although more are coming (but why?). She couldn't get into her state school, Cal Davis, so she chose Ross University on St. Kitts. Tuition alone for the DVM degree at Ross is about $182,000, versus about $45,000 instate at Cal Davis. I've visited St. Kitts and driven by the Ross campus, and it's very nice, but this is not a low cost destination. She has level of debt that some physicians going into practice experience, but they have around six years of post-MD training and their starting salaries are a lot more than $60,000. So she's going to be a debt slave for several decades. In terms of income alone, she would be doing better if she had obtained a four year BSN nursing degree from a state school (average starting salary - about $50,000).

You're right - the government has got to stop subsidizing these wishful thinking career choices.

Check it out said at February 28, 2013 6:28 PM:

"Schools trying to make more money expand their classes. More suckers sign up for study, debt accumulation, and careers of low salaries. What a waste of smart minds."

I completely agree. Can you imagine what all those smart minds could do working together? at least a worldwide revolution with a real outcome like creating a system that works for you and thus a better life for all humans.

However, among all human vices, cowardice is probably the one that defines humans the most. A frightened nation is a dumb nation, even if its citizens are born intelliget.

Randall Parker said at February 28, 2013 7:53 PM:

Old Bruin EE,

A lot of smart people focus on areas where they drive down each others' salaries. Youth need much more training about how much different occupations get paid and what causes differences in pay within occupations. There is so much misinformation out there and so many outdated perceptions. We have a limited supply of smart people and they need to be steered toward higher paying occupations.

I_Affe,

The spending delta on pet care is downward. Partly due to an aging population. Probably also due to declining living standards. Pets and pet care are discretionary spending items.

Nuclear physicist said at February 28, 2013 8:32 PM:

This is really just usary preying on altruistic and naive young women (and men). Even after debt forgiveness the Vet profiled in the story will have a 200k IRS bill.
That's insane.

I didn't know vets' had such poor pay--I always assumed they did ok. I did chase a particularly attractive one in grad school, guess I shouldn't feel too bad she got away.

Calvaria said at February 28, 2013 10:26 PM:

There is actually good money to be made as a vet -- but it's doing research. The guy at my animal facility cleans up in town since he's the *only* vet that will hire himself out to consult on animal studies.


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