In the January/February 2015 issue of Veterinary Team Brief, Dr. Dennis McCurnin discussed the shift of veterinary medicine toward a female-dominated profession. In The Changing World of Veterinary Medicine,1 McCurnin reviewed where the field is today and the factors that led to this change. The following article further discusses this shift and its impact on the profession.
Fifty-five percent of veterinarians were female in 2013, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).2 That percentage will continue to grow, because statistics also show that in the same year, 78.6% of veterinary students were female.3,4
How could this dominance potentially impact the veterinary profession in general and practices in particular?
- Retiring veterinarians may not be able to sell their practices because female veterinarians, who are often also busy mothers with families, may not be willing to take on the responsibility and financial investment of practice ownership.
- This could lead to small animal practice owners selling to veterinary corporations instead. While this may have several advantages (eg, streamlined procedures, bulk-buying power), it would be a departure from the mom-and-pop practices that have been the norm.
- More female veterinarians may want to work part-time or need flexible schedules for family reasons. This is not necessarily a bad thing—the flexibility and opportunities the profession provides (eg, child rearing, caring for aging parents, chronic health problems) are a career plus. However, such needs may prevent some female veterinarians from making the commitment necessary for successful practice ownership.
- Studies show that women charge less and earn less than men doing the same job; therefore, earning power may decline.5