$120K In Debt – It’s No Wonder New Grads Struggle

Marguerite Pappaioanou, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVPM, executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) says the average veterinary student graduates with a debt of $120,000. Out of roughly 6,000 veterinary school applicants a year, 2,500 graduate from U.S. and Canadian veterinary colleges. One trend that is becoming apparent is a dramatic increase in veterinary graduates are seeking internship and residency programs vs. going into practice.

The AAVMC represents all U.S. and Canadian veterinary colleges, as well as eight international and three Caribbean veterinary colleges. Pappaioanou addressed over 70 attendees at a Kansas City Animal Health Corridor event on June 19th in Kansas City and spoke about some of the current stats on veterinary graduate, and the goals of the organization going forward.

Interestingly enough, though farms and farm workers are declining in number, Pappaioanou indicated that large animal exclusive graduates have better starting salaries than their veterinary school peers. She notes a Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association study showing food animal veterinarians have a mean income higher than many other type of veterinarians.

"The population has exploded," says Pappaioanou, "but the number of veterinary graduates remains about the same every year. All other medical field colleges have increased in number of colleges and number of applicants except veterinarians." Part of this is due, of course, to a fairly static number of veterinary colleges as well as these vet schools not increasing class sizes due to a lot of logistics factors.

It was interesting to visit with Dr. Pappaioanou about the AAVMC and hear its strategic plan for FY2010-2014. It was apparent that they also cast their eye on the food animal veterinary situation and needs assessments for that sector. One of their numerous committees is the Academic Food Supply Medicine Committee. One of their goals is to recruit a student body aligned with the demands for veterinary expertise, which includes analyzing the veterinary medical applicant pool and assessing where societal needs are.

In other AAVMC news, November 9-11 the AAVMC and AVMA will hold a joint meeting on animal welfare in veterinary medical education at Michigan State University if you are concerned about how animal welfare will be presented to veterinary students of the future, you may be interested in this conference.

Geni Wren, Editor