Board tackles income issues in veterinary profession

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The AVMA Executive Board approved two recommendations involving incomes in the veterinary profession. AVMA President Henry E. Childers submitted both recommendations.

The board agreed to request that the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues study and explore solutions to the problem of lower professional incomes earned by female veterinarians relative to male veterinarians.

"We owe it to the (veterinary) profession to address the problem," Dr. Childers said during the board's deliberations.

The AVMA-Pfizer Business Practices Study confirmed that female veterinarians earn less than male veterinarians, Dr. Childers said. According to AVMA data, the median professional income in 2003 for female veterinarians in private practice was $62,500, compared with $98,500 for male veterinarians. In public or corporate practice, the median professional income for female veterinarians was $80,500, compared with $104,500 for male veterinarians.

Dr. Childers also reported that the income disparity between female and male practice owners is a concern. In 2003, the median professional income among male owners ranged from $86,500 for predominantly large animal practitioners to $131,500 for exclusively small animal practitioners. The median professional income among female owners ranged from $59,500 for predominantly large animal and mixed animal practitioners to $77,500 for equine and exclusively small animal practitioners.

On another recommendation related to incomes in the veterinary profession, the board approved an additional $14,000 in funding for the 2006 Biennial Economic Survey to develop more detailed economic statistics on professional incomes of board-certified veterinary specialists.

Dr. Childers said the recommendation focuses on the need to develop additional in-depth economic surveys that will hopefully motivate veterinary medical school/college graduates and practicing veterinarians to further their education and achieve specialty board certification status. In light of large educational debt loads of veterinary graduates, Dr. Childers continued, academicians and others need substantiated data on specialists' incomes to advise and convince individuals to seek the necessary postgraduate training.

The median professional income in 2003 for board-certified, exclusively small animal practitioners, for example, was $137,500, compared with $77,500 for non-board-certified practitioners in the same sector, according to AVMA published economic reports.

The additional funding of $14,000 will be used to sample more specialists for the 2006 economic survey than in previous surveys. Specialty college organizations will be requested to provide mailing addresses for diplomates and to help publicize the survey to their members. The funds will also be used for list processing, survey printing, mail assembly, postage, data entry, survey data analysis, and report preparation.