(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) April 23, 2013 – A major study released today by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and conducted by IHS Healthcare & Pharma in partnership with the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the State University of New York estimates an excess capacity of veterinary services in the United States. Specifically, the report indicates that the supply of veterinarians in the United States in 2012 was 90,200, and that supply exceeded the demand for veterinary services by about 11,250 full-time equivalent veterinarians.
The excess capacity estimated in the report does not mean that 11,250 veterinarians were unemployed during the study period, but that 12.5 percent of veterinarians’ capacity to provide services was going unused. If current conditions continue, the study projects that this is likely to persist into the foreseeable future.
A veterinary workforce survey used as a part of the study asked respondent veterinarians working in clinical practice to characterize their local veterinary market and their practices’ capacity and productivity. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said that they believed they were working at less than full capacity. One question the AVMA hopes to answer going forward is why some clinical practices are working at full capacity and others are not.
The workforce study was conducted using expert analysis and the best available existing data collected by the AVMA, federal agencies and other organizations, as well as the aforementioned veterinary workforce survey. However, during the study major gaps in data were identified.
As a result of the national study, the AVMA also announced today that it has developed a new computer software model that will help paint a clearer picture of the current and future veterinary workforce.
The Veterinary Workforce Simulation Model, an AVMA-owned, proprietary software, will play a key role in helping the AVMA and its recently established Veterinary Economics Division produce ongoing updates that will enable the association, veterinarians, veterinary educators and other key stakeholders to better understand issues pertaining to the supply and demand for veterinarians and veterinary services, as well as overall veterinary economics. The improved ability to collect, measure, track and analyze this data will help fill long-existing gaps in important information that affected this study and others in the past. The president of the AVMA warned, however, that the efforts to seek more insights into the issues surrounding the profession should not diminish the importance of this study and its implications.
“As a veterinarian, I would hope policy makers across the profession, including those responsible for existing veterinary colleges and those planning future educational programs, closely study the report and carefully consider its implications,” said AVMA President Dr. Douglas G. Aspros.
“When we say there’s 12.5 percent excess capacity in the system, we can take that as a reliable finding. What we don’t know is what that practically means in various sectors of the profession,” said Aspros, adding that the association is fully committed to conducting further research on the profession and veterinary economics.
The AVMA emphasized that the report and its findings are a starting point and not the end of its efforts to ensure adequate access to veterinary services and the economic viability of the veterinary medical profession.
“The AVMA conducts studies and gathers information to inform stakeholders in the veterinary medical profession and veterinary medical education,” said Dr. Link Welborn, chair of the AVMA’s Workforce Advisory Group. “The collection of more accurate information leads to a more informed profession making the best possible decisions necessary to serve the profession, animals and society. As the AVMA continues its efforts to inform the profession on the development of a robust workforce, it will also seek the active participation of key veterinary stakeholders. A continued effort will be critical to better understand the complex dynamics and trends associated with the veterinary workforce and veterinary economics.”
The 2013 U.S. Veterinary Workforce Study, as well as a companion report issued by the AVMA Workforce Advisory Group, titled “Implications of the 2013 Veterinary Workforce Study and Recommendations for Future Actions,” are available on the AVMA’s website.