cording to the 2011 AVMA Report on Veterinary Compensation, companion-animal-exclusive practitioners’ mean and median incomes are increasing. However, companion-animal-practice income growth has slowed. In recent years, public-practice and corporate-practice incomes have increased slightly. Food-Animal exclusive, equine, and mixed-animal practice median incomes were growing before 2007, but in 2007-2009 a sudden decline occurred.
Unmet needs for appropriately-compensated positions exist in the public sector for veterinarians who have specialized training in epidemiology, food safety, wildlife and ecosystem health, and public health. Jobs in those fields generally offer salaries that are much lower than those in the private sector, many have salaries that are too low to attract top candidates, and some are not advertised with a requirement for a veterinary degree, so many of the positions remain unfilled by veterinarians. Public-practice veterinarians are essential for maintaining the safety of foods of animal origin and for controlling diseases of wildlife and livestock, including zoonotic diseases. An insufficient workforce of public-practice veterinarians places at risk the health of American citizens, the well-being of the nation’s food-animal industry, the health of U.S. wildlife resources, and the U.S. economy.
Recommendation 1A: Industry veterinary workforce shortages can be addressed by deeper partnerships between academe and industrial employers of veterinarians. Academe should more actively seek industry biomedical research partnerships, student mentoring, and opportunities in the curriculum to expose students to corporate practice.
The establishment of student clubs for pathology and laboratory-animal science at veterinary colleges, as recently initiated by the American College of Laboratory Medicine, the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners, and the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) is a favorable development, as is industry support for internships and training positions through the ACVP/STP [Society of Toxicologic Pathology] Coalition for Veterinary Pathology Fellows. Industrial externships could bring greater exposure to career opportunities in pathology, laboratory animal medicine, and toxicology. The Virginia-Maryland Government and Corporate Practice track is another example. Given the limited resources of veterinary colleges, consideration should be given to partnering with such programs or tracking options in veterinary colleges to offer the best opportunity for channeling students into careers in laboratory-animal medicine, pathology, and comparative biomedical research.
Recommendation 1B: To meet the needs for positions for veterinarians in public practice, the committee urges state and federal governments to re-examine their policies on remuneration, recruitment, and retention of veterinarians.