Money worries rank high for most veterinarians

DVM's exclusive survey results explore compensation, benefits
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Dec 01, 2004

Veterinarians worry about money.


Table 1 Which of these choices describes you best?
According to an exclusive DVM Newsmagazine survey, almost two-thirds (62 percent) of veterinarian respondents say they worry about having enough money. The other 38 percent of practitioners say they "have enough to live comfortably" (Table 1).

The results were part of an exclusive DVM Newsmagazine survey that was mailed to 2,500 veterinarians in the United States, and it posted 844 useable responses. The survey achieved a 34-percent response rate. (See demographic profile, p. 22.) Last month, the series focused on work/life balance (p. 16), and the October issue confronted ownership aspirations and career satisfaction among men and women (p. 1).

Results presented here address compensation and benefits. Importantly, the survey asked veterinarians "how they feel" about their personal financial footing. Some gender differences emerge.

For example, about 42 percent of men say they have "enough money to live comfortably," while 33 percent of women say the same. Keep in mind the composition of the survey sample. Men were more likely to be owners of practices. Women were more likely to be in an associate-level position.

When looking at position in practice, about 31 percent of associate female veterinarians say they have enough money to live comfortably. Among female practice owners, only 38 percent say they have enough money to live comfortably. For men, about 43 percent of owners report they have enough money to live comfortably, while only 28 percent of male associates say the same. In turn, the remaining 72 percent of male-associate respondents say they worry about having enough money.

The survey sought to measure what was causing veterinarians the most significant financial angst. "Retire some day" rated overwhelming the highest of all categories for both sexes. Ninety-one percent of men rated it the highest, and so did 86 percent of women. Only 44 percent of respondents are in a practice-sponsored 401K.


Table 2 What do you worry about?
For more immediate financial concerns, women were more fearful of potential calamity. Categories with high rankings included paying off debt (women ranked it substantially higher), paying for children's college, paying the bills, buying into a practice or buying a house. (See Table 2.)

Some other findings include:

  • Owners/partners are more likely to worry about having enough money to retire compared to associate veterinarians, who worry about paying off their children's college, paying off debt or buying into a practice.
  • Respondents who are single are more likely to worry about having enough money compared to those who are married.
  • Respondents older than 40 and those who have been in practice more than 11 years are more likely to worry about having enough money to retire than those who are younger or have been in practice fewer years (although it remains a concern).
  • Owners/partners were more likely to say they have enough money to live comfortably compared to associate veterinarians.
  • Responding veterinarians who make more than $80,000 a year are more likely to report having enough money to live comfortably compared to veterinarians who make less money per year.
  • Younger respondents, in practice 10 years or less, are more likely to worry about having enough money than those who are older or in practice longer.

Compensation According to this DVM Newsmagazine survey, men are winning the compensation race, hands down.