medicine suggests that the lower financial return of a DVM degree relative to an MD degree, and the prospects of carrying a high debt load after graduation might be among the factors that dissuade greater number of minorities from applying to veterinary school, particularly if they do not share the non-financial motivations for pursuing veterinary medicine (Kendall, 2004).
The earnings of DVMs had been on an upward trend over the last decade, recouping a decline in the 1980s and early 1990s (Getz, 1997). Figure 10-2 shows earnings for DVMs in private practice in 2006 dollars (that is, adjusted to constant 2006 dollars using the Consumer Price Index). The earnings are averages for veterinarians of all ages (and experience) employed full-time in four types of practice. All four of the practice types shown (and those not shown) experienced a substantial increase in earnings from 1995 to 2005. Equine veterinarians, who make up about 6% of practicing DVMs, showed the highest rate of increase in that time period. Veterinarians exclusively in small-animal practice, about two-thirds of the veterinarians, also showed marked increases.
The change in real earnings from 2005 to 2007, however, was essentially flat for small-animal practitioners, downward for equine practitioners, and upward for large-animal and mixed-practice veterinarians. However, salaries for both large- and mixed- animal veterinarians fell in 2009 while small-animal practitioners gained slightly (AVMA, 2011a). About 8% of AVMA members are in mixed-animal practice, which is more common in rural areas. Less than 2% of veterinarians serve large animals exclusively, and another 7% serve large animals predominantly.
FIGURE 10-2 Mean DVM income (in 2006 dollars) in private practice, 1965-2007. DATA SOURCE: AVMA annual compensation reports.