The job market
Without a doubt, there are fewer people hiring this year, but there are jobs, says Karen Felsted, CPA, MS, DVM, CVPM and chief
executive officer of the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues.
"They may have to look a little harder, and they may not be able to be as selective as in previous years, but people are still
hiring," she adds.
"Look at the want ads in JAVMA and on AAHA. The numbers are down — a lot," Felsted says.
While Dr. Patricia Wohlferth-Bethke, assistant director of the AVMA membership and field services division, says that classifieds
and job postings are down at the Veterinary Career Center, she adds that it is hard to say how much that reflects a drop in
the job market.
Graduates looking to enter the corporate side may have better luck with their job search.
Banfield, The Pet Hospital plans to hire more than 200 new graduates this year and 650 doctors total, says Dr. Bob Lester,
vice president of veterinary selection for Banfield.
"Our business is booming," he says. "All of us in this profession should be thrilled to be in it. This soft economy confirmed
it even further. People will do anything to take care of their pets. They may give up dinner or a movie, but they would do
anything for their four-legged friends."
The job market will turn around in some areas of the field, experts say.
"I don't think there are any doubts about the need for veterinarians in research, food supply, government and public health,"
Felsted says. "In companion-animal, I'm not sure it's that clear."
A work-force study by the National Academy of Sciences is scheduled for release this year and is supposed to evaluate all
areas of the profession.
Until then, the debate continues about numbers of companion-animal veterinarians needed for the United States, especially
if owners delay retirement because of the drop in the stock market early this year.
"Obviously we will always need more veterinarians coming out of school to replace those who retire or leave the profession,"
"But do we really need to increase the overall population of companion-animal veterinarians?"
If hospitals operated more efficiently, perhaps fewer companion-animal veterinarians would be needed, Felsted speculates.
"But if you're a rural, small-animal veterinarian who has been looking for an associate for x number of years, it's very hard
for those people to say there is not a shortage," Felsted says.
"We have to look at now, when we are in the middle of a recession, vs. what it was a year or two ago and what it will be in
a year or two from now. This year is not really relevant," says Marguerite Pappaioanou, executive director of the Association
of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC).
In general, the job market has been very bright for small-animal veterinarians, she says.
"It's really been a buyers' market, with lots of jobs to choose from. It will be that way again."
Almost as proof of that confidence in the profession, many colleges are increasing their class sizes to help meet the demand
Veterinary colleges in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia are all adding, as well as Purdue, Cornell and
"Quite a number of schools plan to add," she says. "Some are planning smaller additions to classes, some are looking to obtain
resources to increase substantially."
As the economy improves, experts anticipate an increase in hiring.
A recent survey shows job seekers are using many methods to find employment, says Wohlferth-Bethke.
"Online job boards are a very popular way to locate a position as well as print classified ads," she says. "Sending resumes
or e-mails to all practices in a specific area helped some seekers. Networking at conferences and word of mouth from colleagues
helped as well."