Kelly: The reality is these are abysmal starting salaries after eight years of incredibly hard work. Our students work unbelievably
hard. Why should we increase the numbers of students and increase competition, when salaries are so low? It only makes it
worse. How do you see the argument for restricting the number of graduates to bring up salaries? It doesn't make economic
Soares: I agree.
Mashima: It depends on who you ask in terms of what the needs are. If you ask different sectors, you get very different answers. Answers
from the public-health sector, for example, is that we need more veterinarians. I will say from a personal standpoint, those
students aren't deemed to have all the training necessary, which means an increased debt burden.
On the private-practice side, I have heard it said that we need more veterinarians. And Banfield on the corporate practice
side is asking for more veterinarians.
The colleges have independently made decisions in terms of expansion of enrollment. AAVMC is thinking that we need a study
to indicate what the true needs are because we are getting an entire spectrum of opinion about the needs within the market.
Kelly: In some ways, it is not entirely under our control, either. We have offshore schools that will fill a need that we don't
fulfill. It's not something we can control. I have no idea what the answer is, but it is something that is incredibly important
to the profession.
How do you improve the remuneration for veterinarians in private practice? Private practice is the benchmark used in other
areas of veterinary medicine, etc.
Wilson: I teach 300 students a year or more, and I do believe they are worried about this economy. They are not as convinced they
are going to get the jobs they thought they would. I do believe this recession probably will be a depression before we are
done. I think 10 percent unemployment is a depression. I do believe this is going to change the work ethic of younger new
graduates. It's going to be terribly difficult for them to accept it because it is not the way they were raised.
Of course the problem is they have this monstrous debt superimposed on that. What I am hearing from some of my friends familiar
with the U.K. and Europe is that pet health insurance has had a gigantic impact on the provision of veterinary care. Pet-health
insurance could improve the potential size of the market for veterinary services.
Shaughnessy: I see it again and again. If clients come in with third-party payment options, they OK everything. They know they are not
going to get reimbursed for all of it, but they allow procedures that are medically and surgically necessary. Compliance is