Veterinary Medicine Is a Woman's World

The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges is out with its Annual Data Report 2016-2017. The biggest finding? Women are establishing a super majority position in the veterinary profession.
Greg Kelly
Published: May 07, 2017
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) report offers comprehensive data on enrollment trends and graduation rates, veterinary economics as well as demographic information about faculty, staff, residents, interns and DVM students.

The vast majority of information comes from the nation’s 30 schools of veterinary medicine.
Among many insights, the report shows a growing demand for admissions to U.S. veterinary medicine schools (the applicant-to-seat ratio has climbed to 1.7:1), women represent the vast majority of enrolled students (total male matriculation is below 20 percent for the first time) and growth in the profession is mostly flat (enrollment and graduation rates are increasing by about 2 percent a year).
Here is a summary of the more interesting points as they pertain to the education of the nation’s veterinarians:
  • The total enrollment at U.S. veterinary medical schools was just under 12,800 in 2017. A quarter-century ago, in 1982, enrollment was about 8,400. Recent research shows that if there is a national shortage of veterinarians, it’s in rural large animal practices.
  • It’s been about 30 years (since 1986) since there was an equal number of male and female students attending veterinary schools in the United States. In this year’s class, more than 80 percent of students are women. An extraordinary change in the profession is spiking. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the current ratio is 55 percent female/45 percent male in the veterinary market (private and public).
  • The average cost of a year’s tuition at a U.S. veterinary school is $50,123. That’s up from about $40,000 ten years ago. The average annual tuition cost at Canadian and other international veterinary schools in 2017 was about $40,000.
  • The average veterinary school graduate has $156,480 in education debt; loans totaled about $103,000 in 2007. Fewer than one in five of last year’s veterinary school graduates were debt free
  • When it comes to covering the cost of veterinary school, only about 43 percent of students are paying full price for their seats. Nearly 55 percent are getting subsidized for their education.
  • Among U.S. veterinary schools, the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine had the most students (164) this year, followed closely by the University of Illinois - Urbana College of Veterinary Medicine (161). The Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (148) had the third highest enrollment in the nation.
  • As to the gender among faculty at U.S. veterinary schools, the biggest change was in the field of administration (i.e., leadership). In 2017, 42 percent of school administrators were women compared with only 28 percent five years ago.
  • The average college grade point average for a student entering veterinary school in the United States is 3.55. That’s down from a high of 3.59 GPA, which was first hit in 2012.
  • For the first time, the AAVMC collected data on the certified veterinary technician workforce. Not surprising, nearly 90 percent of those jobs are held by women. Visit the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America for more on this group.
In a recent thoughtful profile, Eleanor Green, DVD, a past-president of AAVMC, nicely summed up veterinary learning: “Graduating veterinarians are privileged high performers. They have intellect, an education which will allow them to do anything, and opportunity to help people, animals and even our ecosystem during a lifetime of fulfillment. Each has different talents and opportunities.”

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