A recent survey of the veterinary profession reveals that veterinarians love their jobs.
The AVMA's 2007 Member Needs Assessment surveyed members regarding job satisfaction and happiness. Data were compared with existing job satisfaction information taken from a study published by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago in 2007.
That comparison revealed that veterinarians have a high degree of job satisfaction (3.55), just behind clergy (3.79), teachers (3.61) and psychologists (3.59), but above physicians (3.47) and lawyers (3.33). The average rating in the NORC study for all jobs was 3.30, which puts veterinarians well above average.
"To state it as simply as possible, I'd say that veterinarians just like their jobs," explained Dr. Robert A. Dietl, chair of the AVMA Membership Services Committee. "Veterinary medicine is very diversified, so there are many opportunities to find your niche."
Another interesting detail to come out of the AVMA study is that the veterinarians with the highest job satisfaction are food animal veterinarians (3.69). In fact, when compared with the rankings in the NORC study, food animal veterinarians ranked third in job satisfaction, just below the clergy and physical therapists, while companion animal veterinarians scored a 3.52 job satisfaction rating.
The AVMA survey also revealed that veterinarians are a fairly happy group, although their ranking dropped slightly when compared with the NORC study. The profession's happiness score of 2.30 was below that of lawyers (2.37) and physicians (2.39). Average happiness for all jobs on the NORC study was 2.23, meaning that, at 2.30, veterinarians were happier than most people.
Dr. Dietl said that income may be one reason veterinarians report they are less happy than they are satisfied with their jobs, since they are not as highly paid as physicians or lawyers.
"I think economics are a major factor. With the economy as it is today, I think veterinarians would probably report they weren't as happy today as they were last year," Dr. Dietl explained. "The rising cost of education makes it even more of a struggle for young veterinarians."
AVMA research also shows that few veterinarians choose to leave the profession. For the veterinarians who told the Association why they are leaving, the most common reason cited is retirement—22.6 percent in 2008. The least common reason, "No longer employed in a field of veterinary medicine," which indicates they might have chosen to leave the profession, drew only 6.1 percent of the comments.