New veterinarians: Where are they from, and where did they find work?

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The 2017 AVMA Report on Veterinary Markets, being released this spring, notes that the amount of tightening observed in the veterinary job market varies by location. According to this first of four annual AVMA economic reports, a geographic disparity in the application-to-jobs ratio points to a maldistribution—a phenomenon that the report suggests may, in part, be attributed to veterinarians’ wish to return home to establish a career. 

Chart: New Veterinarian Community Type
Source: AVMA Senior Surveys, 2013-2016

Data compiled from the 2013-2016 AVMA senior surveys show where new veterinarians grew up and where they obtained employment. More than 60 percent of new graduates report returning to the same community type as that in which they grew up.

Of the new veterinarians surveyed, 57 percent grew up in the suburbs, 31 percent in urban areas, and only 12 percent in rural areas. New veterinarians found work in rural areas 24 percent of the time, suburban areas 50 percent of the time, and urban areas 26 percent of the time, closely mirroring the geographical distribution of the general U.S. population.

“What’s surprising,” observes Ross Knippenberg, PhD, an assistant director in the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division, “is that twice as many new graduates find work in rural areas compared to the number who grew up in rural areas. As national trends indicate a desire among millennials to locate in urban areas, activity seen in the community of new veterinarians prompts an interesting question for further research.” That question: Are recent veterinary college graduates heading to where the jobs are, or are they moving to where they want to live, then looking for work?

All economic reports are available here for free download by AVMA members or for purchase by others as a series.

Barbara Dutton is the economics writer/content coordinator for the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division.