AVMA Economic Report on Veterinary Capacity released

Are too many veterinarians crowding the marketplace? Not according the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

The AVMA released its fifth economic report, 2015: AVMA Report on Veterinary Capacity (the Report), on Oct. 8. The Report offers a view of the veterinary marketplace through the lens of excess capacity.

Every industry has a total capacity, that is, what is achievable in the sale of goods and services in that industry. Excess capacity, then, refers to what is going unused of that total possible capacity for any number of reasons, including consumers not being willing to pay the prices requested for a service, according to the AVMA@Work blog.

The Report focuses on the capacity of the market for veterinary services in three areas: veterinary education, veterinarians, and veterinary services (medical services, skills, and training).

In sum, the Report concludes that the need for veterinary services continues to outpace the ability to supply those services, according to the Report’s Executive Summary.

Highlights of the Report include:

  • Excess capacity in the veterinary services market will decline from 2014 to 2024, reaching a peak in 2017 of 5.7% and then flattening out.
  • Excess capacity declines from 2014 to 2024 will be due to flattening of the growth rate in the number of new veterinarians after 2018, continued GDP growth, and the increasing retirement rate for veterinarians.
  • The improving general economic climate will result in more public positions for veterinarians.
  • As education costs continue to rise, veterinary school applicants will decline, and reach equilibrium by 2018.
  • As education prices rise, and students decline to pay, the most expensive “seats” in school will go unfilled.
  • In the companion animal market, prices will rise faster than inflation and clients may decide to a) pay the higher fee, b) go to a less expensive veterinarian, or c) forego veterinary practices altogether.

Photo credit: © iStock/Vladimir Popovic