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Number of veterinary pathologists has increased since 2013

The recent JAVMA Facts and Figures article “A census of veterinarians in the United States”1 includes data regarding the percentage change in numbers of diplomates for the veterinary specialty organizations recognized by the AVMA. Values given for the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP), however, differ markedly from those obtained from the college's own database. According to Figure 7 in the article, the number of ACVP diplomates decreased approximately 7% between 2013 and 2018. However, numbers in our membership database do not support these figures. Rather, the ACVP had 106 more diplomates in 2018, relative to 2013 (Figure 1). Techniques used by the article's authors to account for missing information for approximately 25% of study individuals and the fact that some ACVP diplomates are not members of the AVMA may have contributed to this discrepancy. Thus, although there appear to have been profound demographic changes in the veterinary profession between 2013 and 2018, the number of diplomates in the ACVP has increased rather than decreased. The ACVP is proud to continue to attract many highly qualified veterinarians into the specialty, and employment opportunities and satisfaction abound for ACVP diplomates.

Figure 1—
Figure 1—

Membership in the American College of Veterinary Pathologists from 2013 through 2018.

Citation: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 256, 1; 10.2460/javma.256.1.42

Dorothee Bienzle, DVM, PhD, DACVP

President, American College of Veterinary Pathologists Department of Pathobiology Ontario Veterinary College University of Guelph Guelph, ON, Canada

1. Ouedraogo FB, Bain B, Hansen C, et al. A census of veterinarians in the United States. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2019;255:183191.

The authors respond:

On behalf of the authors, I want to thank Dr. Bienzle and the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) for their response and the opportunity to refine the analysis published in JAVMA. We wholeheartedly welcome their point and acknowledge the challenge in dealing with incomplete data.

The analysis in our report was based on the AVMA membership database, which includes data on both AVMA members and nonmembers. Information in the database, however, tends to be more complete for members than nonmembers, and so the excellent point raised by Dr. Bienzle on handling missing values is right on the mark.

In our analysis, we used a well-known statistical technique that involves using the distribution of the known sample to fill missing values. To the extent that ACVP diplomates are more likely to either be nonmembers or not provide complete information in their AVMA profile, this will result in the different numbers reported in our article.

We rely on individuals to maintain accurate and up-to-date information in their AVMA profile, and it appears in this instance that the ACVP may have better information on the number of veterinarians with a pathology certification than does the AVMA database. We welcome the opportunity to work with the ACVP to refine our data and encourage diplomates to update their AVMA profile.

Matthew J. Salois, MA, PhD

Chief Economist, Veterinary Economics Division


Schaumburg, Ill

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