Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Many Vets Follow Heart, Not Money

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Many Vets Follow Heart, Not Money

Article excerpt

NATIONALLY, the number of women veterinarians increased to 25 percent from 10 percent between 1980 and 1990, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association reports.

About 84 percent of last year's veterinary school graduates went into private practice - other choices were federal or state jobs, teaching jobs or specialty medicine - where the mean annual starting salary was $28,923, the AVMA journal says.

If those private practitioners go on to build up their own businesses rather than work for somebody else, they face a midcareer average annual income of $38,651.

Ann Clark, director of the AVMA career development center, said that right now there are probably fewer young men interested in the biological sciences than there have been in the past.

"I think if you look at all the sciences," Clark said, "the pool of young men going into those is less. I think there's perhaps more interest in engineering and business.

"And I think, also, our salaries are not as high. And that does not seem to deter women as it deters men."

Billy Hooper, former executive director of the American Association of Veterinary Medicine Colleges and associate dean of Oklahoma State University, says women veterinarians are more willing than their male counterparts to settle for relatively low professional salaries in return for a chance to enter a field of work they love.

"One thing seems to be very clear, and that is that women tend to be more service-oriented, or more, I guess, caring and compassion-oriented," Hooper said.

In his 33 years as a working veterinarian and teacher of veterinary medicine, he said he's come to find some truth in the "crasser notion" that "men are more financially oriented."

Hooper has also observed that women veterinary students seem to be able to count on more financial help from their families - particularly their parents - than can their male classmates. And veterinary school can easily cost $10,000 to $20,000 a year - without offering its graduates the assurance that they will wind up taking home an M. …

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