Like many in my profession, I had a strong reaction to the recent New York Times article "High debt and falling demand trap new vets" by David Segal. (Read the full article here.) My first thought was, "Finally! What a relief to see our situation presented in Technicolor to the greater American audience."
But the article itself is depressing. It’s almost as depressing as listening to a colleague tell me that he's fed up with our profession four years out of school. It’s almost as depressing as watching my client, who just declined all treatments for her parvo puppy, pull her BMW out of the spot next to my sad, sticker-covered, bald-tired excuse for an automobile. (May fetid bloody diarrhea grace the hand-stitched seams of her new leather interior.)
My favorite quote from the article is Dr. Hayley Schafer’s observation “What I’ve done isn’t a bright move, but I can afford to eat.” I’ve often felt the same way. So finding fulfillment may lie in lowering our expectations.
I don’t envy Dr. Douglas Aspros’ position as president of the AVMA, and I'm thankful for his admission that we have some issues that need to be dealt with. Admitting there’s a problem is the first step. Perhaps I’ll get to meet some of you at the next Veterinarians Anonymous meeting. (“Hi, my name is Jeremy and I’m a veterinarian.”)
Thankfully for me, I'm one of the most cynical people I know. So I did manage a few chuckles while reading the article. Of note was Ross University's Dean Elaine Watson commenting on how shortsighted it is to focus on this insignificant oversupply issue. She immediately follows this with the profoundly wise suggestion that since so many students are buying into their financially crippling school choice, there actually isn’t a problem.
But overall, the article gives me some hope. The hope that some eyes begin to open, that those who have the power to do so will actually take control of our profession. Now is not the time for new vet schools. Stop increasing class sizes. Let’s wake up to reality, turn off The Incredible Dr. Pol (OK, DVR it for later, if you must) and do something.