The threat to veterinary science

The wife of a vet writes about the dilemma facing veterinary practices:

I appreciate your columns and often forward them to others. My husband will be receiving the one on the threat of women to real science. He is a veterinarian who graduated from vet school in 1967. He has 9 years of college science: a BS, a DVM and a post-doc degree. His graduating class of 57 had about 8 women in it. Now the vet school has about 100 per class and about 8 of them are men. Women work when it is convenient for them, as many of them go on to become wives and mothers. Because they work part time, they do not expect, nor get, the kind of wage that a male head of household needs to bring home. This depresses the wage level for the rest of the vets. Men are leaving the profession – at meetings, the attendance is mostly women and a few graying men. It is almost impossible for his boss to find a relief veterinarian to fill in so someone can go on vacation or keep a medical appt. Practices are for sale – and no one is trying to buy them. Women are very good at medicine, but men are the ones who pick up the animals to put them on the exam tables and who seem to know that you cannot take all day to decide on what course of action to take with a difficult case. In time, women won’t go into the profession either: coming out of school with $80,000 in debt and not being able to make that amount of money in a year or a year and a half is not much of a prospect. As my husband says, “I don’t get paid enough to know what I have to know to do this.” He repairs a cruciate for a small fraction of what it costs to have it done on a human – same with hip repair, ovariohysterectomy, etc., etc.

This is an interesting email because it corresponds with my own anecdotal evidence. The lady closely describes the situation of a friend of Spacebunny’s, who happens to be a married, former part-time vet who only practiced for four or five years. But at least the vet schools are selling more paper, that’s good for the economy, right?