Your time = your money
To realize the value of one minute, ask a person who just missed the plane. To realize the value of one second, ask a person who survived an accident. To realize the value of one millisecond, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics. So what then is the value of four arduous years of study for a veterinary degree?
The reality of veterinary debtThis means that new veterinarians find it harder than ever to make ends meet and don't have the financial ability to start or buy into a practice. Based on reports over the last few years, we experience one of the highest debt-to-income ratios compared to our human healthcare peers.
We put a lot of time, trouble and money into our jobs so we can get paid less than a third of what our human medicine counterparts make. We must adore working long, hard hours for so much less than our educational investment would suggest. After sinking about $200,000 into achieving our degree and getting our license, we must learn to be more cognizant of achieving a return on our investment.
Time is a valuable commodity
What we really need is a meter installed in our heads that monitors our most sellable merchandise: our time. We cannot survive by giving it away. Everything we do has a time component and should be sold at an appropriate dollar amount per unit of time.
So who sets the dollar amount for you? Initially, your employer does during your associate days. How does that happen? There are rules to follow and after that, it's simple math.
Let's say you're a salaried veterinary associate working 45 hours a week and being compensated at $80,000 per year. In addition to the $80,000, your employer must add Medicare, FICA and federal unemployment taxes amounting to $6,152, health insurance at a minimum of $8,000 and some kind of pension contribution amounting to about $4,000.
Now we add expenses for personal pet care, association dues, continuing education and medical liability insurance at a very minimum of another $2,000. The total cost has just leaped from $80,000 to $100,000, pretty typical of 20 percent in benefits added to salary. If you work an average of 45 hours a week or 2,250 hours a year, that comes out to an employer's cost of $44.51 for each hour and 74 cents for each minute you are employed.