Congrats to Arizona’s Midwestern University for their plans to open a veterinary school in 2014 at their Glendale campus.
The announcements of their plans indicated that there was a shortage of veterinarians in Arizona because they state that while the average vet has 3500 animals in its care, Arizona vets have 4100 per vet. Overall, that doesn’t seem to be a big disparity. This doesn’t mean that every state in the United States has 3500 animals per vet, but rather it is the average – meaning some states will have more and some will have less. There are likely other states that have numbers comparable to Arizona. So does that justify opening a veterinary school?
Another thing to consider is the statement that is used repeatedly in news coverage of the plans for the new vet school — “The American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges projects a shortage of 15,000 veterinarians in the next 20 years.” This statement has been highly contended in the veterinary community and the methodologies of formulating these predictions have been criticized. I know that as a student one year from graduating, the thing that is worrying us most is the prospect of whether we will even find a job!
Paging through the CVMA’s disseminated publication recently I took a look at the job ads in the back and found it perplexing that there were no more than a couple dozen ads for jobs in all of California. Keep in mind that 130 students from Davis will be needing employment in just a few weeks! Many students pursue internships, which are poorly paid, just to have something lined up and/or to make them a more desirable candidate in the future. The only people that internships are required for are those who wish to do a residency and specialize in a particular field – such as surgery, oncology, radiology, etc.
Will this new school bring more money into Arizona’s economy – most likely, yes. However, it is a big expense to start up a veterinary school! It might be more worthwhile for them to contract with other schools and subsidize Arizona residents’ tuition to an out of state school if they agree to return and work in Arizona.
I know my colleagues are baffled at the idea of opening up a new vet school and continuing to over-saturate the market. Only time will tell how these changes will affect the field in the future. We can only hope that the economy will recover and that all DVMs find employment and be able to pay off their student debt. We may be dreaming, but we have to remain optimistic.