Americans love their pets, and many kids dream of being veterinarians someday.
However, the weak economy as had an impact on those in vet school, as well as the pets they wanted to care for. Nikhita Parandekar is a second-year veterinary student in the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, and shares some observations in The Cornell Daily Sun.
One of the statistics we hear fairly often in veterinary school is that when the economy crashed in 2008, pet ownership declined with it. We talk about this in order to understand the potential impact of a shrinking client base on the veterinary profession and to get a firmer grasp on what affects the economy can have on veterinary medicine. We then understand why pet ownership has decreased fairly steadily; what we never talk about, however, is how this happens.
Parandekar then details the reasons for the decline, including non-replacement of animals that die naturally and euthanasia. However, pet owners haven’t been the only ones making sacrifices during the protracted and sluggish “economic recovery”.
HAYLEY SCHAFER chose her dream job at the age of 5. …
At the age of 30, she still has the sign, which is framed on her desk at the Caring Hearts Animal Clinic in Gilbert, Ariz., where she works as a vet. She also has $312,000 in student loans, courtesy of Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. Or rather, $312,000 was what she owed the last time she could bring herself to log into the Sallie Mae account that tracks the ever-growing balance.
“It makes me sick, watching it increase,” she says. “There’s also the stress of how am I going to save for retirement when I have this bear to pay off.”
..This would seem less alarming if vets made more money. But starting salaries have sunk by about 13 percent during the same 10-year period, in inflation-adjusted terms, to $45,575 a year, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. America may be pet-crazed and filled with people eager to buy expensive fetch toys and heated cat beds. But the total population of pets is going down, along with the sums that owners are willing to spend on the health care of their animals, one of the lesser-known casualties of the recession.
Today, the ratio of debt to income for the average new vet is roughly double that of M.D.’s, according to Malcolm Getz, an economist at Vanderbilt University. To practitioners in the field, such numbers are ominous, and they portend lean times for new graduates.