Veterinary economics: a bright forecast for 2018

Published on December 20, 2017

Economic Tools to Strengthen Your PracticeThe future is looking bright for veterinary professionals, at least for the next 12-18 months, with market indicators pointing to continued economic growth throughout 2018, according to AVMA Economics Director Dr. Mike Dicks.

But that doesn’t mean veterinarians should go on a spending binge.  “An expanding economy and tight labor market mean prices for new equipment and facility construction are at high levels,” according to Dr. Dicks. “The strategy right now is to ‘put up hay,’ or save for the next downturn to spend your hard-earned cash – it will go farther.”

Dr. Dicks shared his insights recently with more than 175 veterinary industry leaders, economic experts, educators, practitioners and others who attended the AVMA’s fifth annual Veterinary Economic Summit. He also explored some of the same themes in a recent article in dvm360 magazine, where the AVMA economics team contributes monthly reports.

Along with the expected economic expansion, Dr. Dicks said, employment for full-time companion animal veterinarians is at its highest point since 2008, which means that practices are more likely to have trouble finding and hiring qualified employees. In other words, the situation offers bargaining power to potential employees.  The tight veterinary labor market will likely mean large gains in 2018 starting salaries, he said.

Macroeconomic indicators suggest that positive economic trends seen in 2017 should continue into 2018, he said. These include an expanding workforce and growth in median household income, which should set the stage for greater demand for veterinary services.

Improving financial literacy of veterinarians

The AVMA Economic Summit offers an in-depth look at issues affecting the financial health of veterinarians and the veterinary profession. The event is part of a larger AVMA initiative to improve the financial literacy of veterinarians and their teams, which is crucial to ensuring the economic strength of the profession.

“There is so much valuable information that veterinarians can use to gain a better understanding of the market and the economic forces that drive it,” Dr. Dicks said. “We need to make sure that veterinary professionals are actually getting their hands on these resources so they can make better informed financial decisions for themselves, their practices, and their staff.”

Financial literacy also can be instrumental in helping relieve some of the stress that veterinarians face. “Wellbeing is a huge concern in the veterinary profession. Giving practitioners the tools they need to repay their debt, increase their profit and help them make sound financial decisions throughout their careers can go a long way in reducing several major stress factors,” said Dicks.

You can read more about Dr. Dicks’ annual economic forecast and all of the AVMA’s other monthly economics contributions to dvm360 right here on our website.

The Jan. 1, 2018, issue of JAVMA includes a series of other news articles from the AVMA Economic Summit, including trends related to student debt and veterinary incomes.

Save the date

If you are interested in learning more about the economics of the veterinary profession, mark your calendar for the 2018 Economic Summit, which will take place Oct. 22-23, 2018, just outside Chicago.

Also be sure to check out the Economics & Finance section of our website to access our full suite of economic tools and resources for veterinarians.