Vets are Despicable?

Aug 29, 2016
I've been reading DogForum for a long time, even though I'm new to posting. By and large, this is a great community of intelligent, compassionate contributors.

That said, I've found a troubling number of posts demonizing veterinarians as "greedy" or "corrupt." As someone married to a veterinarian, I'd like to take a minute to address a few things about the field:

1) Vets incur an incredible amount of debt to do what they do. There are ONLY 28 vet programs in the US (compared to 141 for human doctors), which makes admission to these programs incredibly difficult. My wife was fortunate to be accepted on her first application, but many in her class took 2-3 years to get in simply because programs are so small. Additionally, vet programs are very expensive to run. As a result, her education cost us roughly $180,000 over four years. That's an extra mortgage every month.

2) Vets don't make much money, especially when you consider the 8+ years of school and $180,000 in student loans they're taking on. The average starting salary in the U.S. is about $65,000, and the average of ALL vets (new, mid-career, and senior) is about $87,500 (source). Compare this to the $180/year human doctors make on average, and you'll see that this is a labor of love (as clearly, those accepted to much more competitive veterinary medicine programs would be shoo-ins for human medicine programs if they had opted down that path).

3) Medical care is expensive. When you visit a vet clinic, you're likely greeted by a receptionist. You then meet a vet tech, and a doctor. In the back of the clinic, other technicians are running lab work, ordering medicine, and completing other tasks as requisite to keep the clinic open. All of these people must exist for a vet clinic to run in a smooth and orderly fashion (we've seen, firsthand, clinics that tried to stretch a doctor and receptionist for every task, and it doesn't work). All of these people need to earn salaries if your animal is going to have care available to it. And, then you're looking at $400,000 in equipment for even the most basic of clinics—X-ray, ultrasound, ventilators, surgical tools, etc. A clinic can't run without them.

So, at the end of the day, my wife brings home 1/2 of a doctor's salary to provide a wider set of services to several different species—while being strapped with an extra mortgage—for the honor of being told she's corrupt.

Again, medical care is expensive, and it sucks when an animal gets sick. But, if you're not in a position to handle an expensive and time-consuming surgery, you should make sure you pay for a monthly pet insurance plan that covers it for you (yes, these exist).

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