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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine whether career choice and starting salary of new DVM graduates in the US were associated with their educational debt accrued during veterinary school.

SAMPLE

Up to 48,527 fourth-year students at US veterinary schools who responded to the AVMA Senior Survey in 2001 through 2021 and accepted a full-time position or advanced education opportunity.

PROCEDURES

To determine whether career choice was associated with educational debt, multiple linear regression was performed, controlling for graduation year, gender, age, marital status, having children, tuition level, and school location. The correlation between educational debt and starting salary was also determined.

RESULTS

On average, mean educational debt increased by $6,110 each successive year. A mean of 60.5% of respondents accepted positions in private practice (public practice, 3.3%; advanced education, 36.2%). Respondents choosing public practice had a mean of $24,913 less debt than those choosing advanced education, controlling for other factors. Respondents choosing public practice also had less debt than those choosing private practice, but debt did not differ significantly between private practice and advanced education. The correlation between educational debt and starting salary was significant but low (r = 0.177).

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Findings suggested that the amount of debt incurred during veterinary school was associated with new veterinarians’ career paths. Notably, graduates with higher debt levels appeared to seek higher paying jobs or clinical training that might lead to higher paying jobs, leaving public practice—a field in which critical needs have been identified—underrepresented despite the availability of loan forgiveness programs and other incentives.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To characterize and compare fourth-year students of US veterinary schools graduating with and without related educational debt (ie, DVM debt) from 2001 through 2020.

SAMPLE

45,756 fourth-year veterinary students who participated in the annual AVMA Senior Survey from 2001 through 2020.

PROCEDURES

Survey data were summarized for variables hypothesized to be associated with DVM debt. Multivariable modeling was used to investigate associations between these variables and the likelihood of graduating with DVM debt.

RESULTS

Mean DVM debt increased fairly steadily from $56,824 in 2001 (n = 1,587) to $157,146 in 2020 (2,859). Of 45,756 students, 6,129 (13.4%) had no DVM debt. Attending Tuskegee University and having children (both men and women) were associated with an increased likelihood of DVM debt. Attending certain other veterinary schools and more recent survey year were associated with a decreased likelihood. For 2020, the likelihood of DVM debt decreased with increasing percentage of tuition paid by family and increased with increasing percentage of tuition paid by educational loans, being a woman with children, and increasing total cost of attendance. No association was found with state cost of living index or per capita income.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Results suggested a growing rift between US veterinary students who cannot afford tuition and fees without accumulating financially concerning levels of debt and those who have the financial ability or family situation to fully fund veterinary school. Efforts should be undertaken to recruit across socioeconomic statuses and provide meaningful scholarships to students with greatest financial needs to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in veterinary medicine.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To determine prevalences of low compassion satisfaction (CS), high burnout (BO), and high secondary traumatic stress (STS) scores among full-time US veterinarians and estimate effects of selected demographic, employment-related, and education-related factors on those scores.

SAMPLE

5,020 full-time veterinarians who participated in the 2016, 2017, and 2018 AVMA Census of Veterinarians surveys.

PROCEDURES

Data were obtained from census surveys regarding demographic, employment-related, and education-related factors, and scores assigned to items from a professional quality-of-life instrument designed to measure CS and compassion fatigue (ie, BO and STS) were compared between and among various demographic and employment groups.

RESULTS

Overall, 35.5% of veterinarians were classified as having low CS scores, 50.2% as having high BO scores, and 58.9% as having high STS scores. Controlling for other variables, high educational debt was associated with low CS, high BO, and high STS scores. Veterinarians who spent ≥ 75% of their time working with dogs or cats had higher BO and STS scores than did those who spent < 25% of their time. Veterinarians with more experience and higher annual incomes had higher CS scores and lower BO and STS scores. Women had higher BO and STS scores than did men, but no gender differences were observed in CS scores.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Several variables were identified that may put veterinarians at higher risk than others for compassion fatigue and low CS. These findings may be useful in the development of resources and targeted initiatives to support and defend veterinarian well-being.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association