Pandemic Pet Boom | Veterinary Industry Statistics (2022)
Did you know that the veterinary industry is undergoing an economic boom at this time? It’s true! There is more demand than ever for veterinarians and their services, leading many to ask questions about the industry and its prospects. With the prospect of an economic recession potentially in the cards, many people are looking for the types of work that can provide them with a steady and stable income. It takes an incredible amount of work to become a veterinarian, but this may be the industry that some want to get involved in today.
We will look at some veterinary industry statistics to help you understand the important factors driving the industry today.
Healthy Median Pay
All veterinarians should reach out to a veterinary contract lawyer before signing a contract to go and work for any company. The reason? Because they need to ensure that they are receiving adequate pay for their services. Veterinarians can sometimes get locked into lengthy contracts with employers, and it needs to be crystal clear that they are receiving compensation in line with the talent they bring to the table.
The median pay for veterinarians breached the $100,000 per year mark in 2021 by hitting $100,370 annually, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Veterinarian Medicine is a 32 Billion Dollar Industry
The veterinarian medicine industry is a 32 billion dollar juggernaut. Pet owners are seemingly willing to spend a significant amount of their money to keep their pets happy and healthy, and that is certainly commendable.
Animals that Visit Vets Frequently
They say that dogs are man’s best friend, and it certainly seems that humans are keen on keeping their dogs healthy and up to date on their health needs, even more so than other pets they may have. The average number of vet visitors per year by pet type breaks down as follows:
- Dogs: 1.5
- Cats: 0.7
- Birds: 0.1
- Exotic pets: 0.02
It seems that dogs have more veterinarian needs, but also that people are more willing to bring their dog to the vet when he or she needs care.
Suicide Prevention is Taken Very Seriously
A dark problem in the veterinary industry is the issue of suicide. It is believed that veterinarians are approximately two to three times more likely than the average person to die by suicide. This is why critically important organizations exist that are meant to assist those who might be experiencing self-harming thoughts.
All veterinarian schools across the country now have classes and programs in place that are meant to inform students about the heightened risk of self-harming behaviors within the profession and what they can do to help prevent this in themselves or others.
Tens of Thousands of Veterinarians are Needed
The profession shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, there is a need for approximately 89,200 jobs to be filled by veterinarians across the country for every clinic to have the staff that it needs. Additionally, that number appears to just continue growing with each passing year.
COVID-19 Lockdowns Led to a “Pet Boom”
You surely remember the time around mid-March of 2020 when the entire world seemingly locked down overnight. The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) led most governments worldwide to issue “stay-at-home” orders. With rampant disease spread and no vaccine available at the time, many people looked for ways to keep themselves entertained as they waited things out. Plenty of those individuals adopted pets during that time to keep themselves company.
The pandemic “pet boom” has meant that veterinarians have more work than ever. Many of the pets that were first adopted during that period are now hitting an age where they may need to see a vet more frequently. As such, the profession is slammed with work and in desperate need of more veterinarians at this time.
Work Hours May be Different Than Most
Many veterinarians work odd hours to help their clients when their pets are in need. After all, a pet emergency can strike at literally any time, and it is nice to know that a veterinarian may be available even when other people are sleeping.
Veterinarians typically work more than forty hours per week as they are expected to go the extra mile for their clients. Depending on the specific work schedule between themselves and their employer, some veterinarians may even work on an on-call basis after hours to address client needs.
Most Vets are Satisfied with Their Jobs
When surveyed, veterinarians report a higher level of job satisfaction than most other professions. They reported an average score of 3.55 on job satisfaction (against an average of 3.30 for all professions) in an AVMA study. This put them nearly in line with other jobs that involve self-sacrifices, such as teachers (3.61) and clergy (3.79).
It seems that veterinarians are highly satisfied with the type of work that they do, even if there are some drawbacks to the industry itself.
Student Debt Remains a Big Concern
A high percentage of veterinarian students find themselves in a position where they have to borrow money to attend their school of choice. Naturally, this can be very frustrating for many, and they aren’t always thrilled with the prospect of having to put so much on the line to attain their degree. However, the average total cost for an in-state student attending vet school is approximately $200,000 when it is all completed. That number jumps to $275,000 for out-of-state students. Thus, student loans, and the burdens that come with them, are a reality for most students pursuing a career in vet medicine.
Now that you have some veterinary industry statistics in mind, you can decide for yourself if you would like to pursue a career in this field. Many people find themselves eager to take on the challenge even though they know it will be difficult. The burdens they have to go through are worthwhile because they want to help pets and their owners.
Veterinary Contract Lawyer
If you are considering signing a contract to work as a veterinarian, please contact us at Chelle Law for help reviewing your contract to ensure that you are being compensated enough for your hard work.
Chelle Law provides a Veterinarian Contract Review for veterinary associates entertaining a new job or renegotiating an existing veterinary employment agreement. You have worked hard to develop your skills and deserve to advance in your professional career with a fair market value agreement.
So, when you are about to enter a veterinary agreement, getting veterinary agreement services before signing is vitally important.
The terms of the agreement will impact your practice and your day-to-day life.
Attorney, Robert Chelle, can analyze your agreement, identify the areas you could improve, and help you negotiate the best veterinary contract possible. Each veterinarian that requests Mr. Robert Chelle’s expert assistance receives:
- Available in any state
- Flat-rate pricing, with no hidden costs
- Review of your proposed employment agreement or agreements
- Phone consultation reviewing the contract term by term
- Follow up with a review of the needed clarifications
Veterinary Contract Negotiations
Veterinary contracts are a pervasive and obligatory part of every job search for veterinarians. Well-drafted veterinary contracts help enumerate the responsibilities of the involved parties. They also divide liabilities, protect legal rights, and ensure future relationship statuses.
These touchstones are even more crucial when applying their roles to the case of a veterinarian employed by a veterinary hospital. Or those employed in corporate-owned group, or private veterinary practice.
While veterinary contract drafting and negotiation can be long and arduous, searching for quality legal representation is a must. It ensures your rights are protected before you start your new job and sign a new veterinary contract.
The present-day conclusion is simple:
Veterinarians should only sign a veterinary contract with the agreement reviewed by legal counsel.
For example, concerns include:
- License defense
- Veterinary board policies
- Employee salary increases
- Attorneys fees
- Salary negotiations upon expiration on the associate agreement
- AVMA fees, etc.
Veterinary Practice Contract Checklist
Every veterinary employment contract is unique. However, every veterinary contract for health care professionals should have several essential terms.
If the agreement does not spell out these essential terms, disputes can arise. Especially when there is a disagreement between the employer and employee as to the details of the specific term.
Let’s say, the vet expects to work at the practice Monday through Thursday. While the employer expects the provider to work Monday through Friday. But the specific workdays are absent from the agreement. Who prevails?
Spelling out the details of your job is crucial to avoid conflicts during the term of your employment.
Below is a checklist of essential terms that veterinary contracts should contain (and a brief explanation of each term):
- Practice Services Offered: What are the veterinarians’ clinical patient care duties? Are you given time for administrative tasks?
- Patient Care Schedule: What days and hours per week are you expected to provide patient care and have patient contact?
- Locations: Which facilities will they schedule you to provide care at (outpatient clinic, surgical sites, in-patient services, etc.)?
- Outside Activities: Can you pursue moonlighting or locum tenens opportunities? Do you need permission from the employer before you take those medicine-related positions?
- Veterinary License: Will the veterinary practice offer reimbursement for your license or assist in license defense for the veterinary board?
- Practice Call Schedule: How often are you on call (after-hours office call, hospital call (if applicable)?
- Electronic Medical Records (EMR): What EMR system are they using? Will you receive training before providing care?
- Base Compensation: What is the annual base salary? What is the pay period frequency? Does the base compensation increase over the term of the agreement?
- Productivity Compensation: If there is productivity compensation, how is it calculated (wRVU, net collections, patient encounters, etc.)?
- Practice Benefits Summary: Are standard benefits offered: health, vision, dental, life, disability, retirement, etc.?
- Paid Time Off: How much time off do they offer? What is the split between vacation, sick days, CME attendance, and holidays?
- Continuing Medical Education (CME): What is the annual allowance for CME expenses, and how much time off do they offer?
- Dues and Fees: Which business expenses are covered (licensing, DEA registration, privileging)?
- Relocation Assistance: Is relocation assistance offered? What are the repayment obligations if the agreement terminates before the expiration of the initial term?
- Signing Bonus: Is an employee signing bonus offered? When is it paid?
- Professional Liability Insurance: What professional liability insurance do they offer: claims made, occurrence, self-insurance?
- Tail Insurance: If tail insurance is necessary, who will pay for it when the agreement terminates?
- Term: What is the length of the initial term? Does the agreement automatically renew after the initial term?
- For Cause Termination: What are the grounds for immediate termination for cause?
- Without Cause Termination: How much notice is required for either party to terminate the agreement without cause?
- Practice Post-Termination Payment Obligations: Will you receive production bonuses after the agreement terminates?
- Non-Compete: How long does the non-compete last, and what is the prohibited geographic scope?
- Non-Solicitation: How long does it last, and does it cover employees, patients, and business associates?
- Notice: How is the notice given? Contact via email, US mail, etc.?
- Veterinary Practice Assignment: Can the employer assign the agreement?
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: If a conflict arises, will mediation or arbitration be utilized?
Breaking an Agreement with a Non Compete
People initially considered veterinary non-compete contracts as restraints of trade. Thus, were invalid on the grounds of public policy at common law. However, the rule of reason became the basis for upholding many restraints on trade, incident to veterinary contracts now.
Restrictive covenants between veterinarians not to compete after the employment termination are generally enforceable as long as they are reasonable.
However, there are a few states which prohibit veterinary non-compete contracts. Please check your state laws for veterinary non-compete contracts to see the specific rules for your state.
The general test for reasonableness of non-competition agreements holds that on termination of employment, consider a covenant that restrains an employee from competing with his former employer reasonable if:
- The restraint is not more than required for protecting the employer.
- It does not inflict any untold of hardships to the employer, and
- The restraint is not injurious to the public.
For instance, a non-competition clause in Ohio was unreasonable when the state noted that the provider’s sub-specialty was uncommon. That it would be harsh if the employer enforced the restrictive covenant. The hospital where they precluded him from practicing was only one of the few institutions in the area where he could practice his specialty.
Thus, in Ohio, one can consider covenants restraining providers from competing with their employer on contract termination as unreasonable if:
- It inflicts untold hardship on the veterinarian.
- It is injurious to the public.
- If the demand for the veterinarian’s medical expertise is vital for the community people, and
- If the veterinarian’s services are essential for the health, care, and treatment of the public.
However, in general, non-competition clauses for veterinarians are enforceable as long as they protect some of the employer’s legitimate interests.
DVM Employees Concerns
Veterinarians face many risks when they take veterinary contract matters into their own hands.
Veterinary contract terms are highly negotiable and significantly impact professional life, lifestyle, family, and the future.
There are many crucial veterinary contract terms and clauses which can present new complex and diverse issues for any Vet, including:
- Unfavorable call schedules
- No assistance in license defense
- Small Production Bonuses
- Lack of Benefits
- Not enough paid-time-off
- Not enough vacation time
- Unfair Non-Compete
- Inadequate professional liability coverage