The new president of the American Veterinary Medical Association is Dr. Rene Carlson of Chetek, Wisconsin. She says while the organization faces a number of issues, “The number-one issue is economics.” Specifically, the cost of becoming a vet has increased substantially compared to what they can expect to earn. “If you look at a financial advisors recommendation, they should be investing one-to-one,” the investment in their education should be equal to their first year’s salary. “But right now it’s twice that,” says Carlson, “about $150,000 for their education for a $65,000 salary.” The difference has been the reduction in state legislative support for land-grant colleges, vet schools have been forced to raise tuitions.
Dr. Carlson says the situation has created long-term ramifications in particular, a shortage of rural veterinarians. “We can’t support our educational loans in rural areas with less animals and less people.” As a result, those areas are forced to seek other people to perform those services “With less qualification and less accountability.” Down the road, if this trend is not reversed, Carlson sees “long-term problems for national security, food safety, animal health, all of those issues.” She says her organization needs to get the public to understand the importance of veterinary medicine, “of who we are, what we do and why it is so important.”