Veterinarian Shortage? AAVMC Report Predicts a Shortfall of 17,106 Veterinarians by 2032


A recent (March 10, 2024) study commissioned by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) projects a significant shortfall in the supply of veterinarians relative to the demand over the next decade. By analyzing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the AAVMC, the study estimates that the U.S. will face a veterinarian shortage of 17,106 veterinarians by the year 2032.

In contrast with previous reports from Jim Lloyd and AVMA that use a bottom-up approach that focuses on household expenditures to identify the demand for veterinarians, the AAVMC study uses a top-down approach that focuses on the aggregate economy to derive a projection of demand for veterinarians. As such, the AAVMC’s report identifies that there will be a shortage of 17,106 veterinarians. This falls roughly in the middle of Lloyd’s projected shortfall of 14,000-24,000 veterinarians and far outside the AVMA’s projected surplus of 8,200 veterinarians.

The demand for veterinarians is expected to grow substantially due to market expansion and the need to replace veterinarians leaving the profession. Factors contributing to this increased demand include:

  • A growing pet population
  • Advances in veterinary medicine
  • An expanding range of services that veterinarians can provide to both companion animals and livestock

However, the supply of new veterinary graduates from U.S. colleges and international programs is not projected to keep pace. Of the total demand for 70,092 additional veterinarians through 2032, only 52,986 graduates are expected to enter the profession, leaving a gap of over 17,000, or 76% of the total market need.

The study recommends several strategies to help address this looming veterinarian shortage, including:

  1. Prioritizing veterinarian mental health and wellbeing to reduce burnout and attrition, ensuring that those who enter the profession remain engaged and committed for the long term
  2. Expanding the use of veterinary technicians/nurses and technology, such as telemedicine and artificial intelligence, to improve efficiency and allow veterinarians to focus on tasks that require their unique expertise
  3. Increasing enrollment in veterinary programs, with a projected need for at least 1,600 new seats by the early 2030s, while also considering ways to reduce the financial burden on students, such as scholarships and loan forgiveness programs

Close monitoring of the evolving demand and supply dynamics will be critical for the veterinary profession to proactively manage this challenge in the coming years. Without action, the projected veterinarian shortage could strain the profession’s ability to meet the growing need for veterinary services across the country, potentially impacting animal health and welfare, public health, and food safety. It is essential that stakeholders in the veterinary community come together to develop and implement solutions to ensure a robust and sustainable workforce for the future.

Note: the original report was removed by AAVMC pending further review. They have issued a statement that includes the following: “A critical review of the report, including input from industry colleagues, has brought to light assumptions made within the commentary of the report regarding the impacts of the demographic shift on the supply of veterinarians in a profession that has become predominately female.” You can view that statement here.


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