I was disappointed when I read the front page article regarding the veterinarian shortage in Sunday’s paper. The article thoroughly interviewed local Juneau veterinarians, but did not investigate the reason behind the shortage beyond these interviews. The article also should not have included the statement from Dr. Sam Smith in which he suggested that the reason behind the shortage was that women were the majority of graduates, and they would just quit once hired to get married and pregnant. I believe the Juneau Empire should apologize for the publication of that statement.
The article included many quotes about work ethic, and the disgust the interviewed veterinarians felt towards a healthy work-life balance. It is paramount that newly minted doctors of veterinary medicine take the steps necessary to achieve work-life balance. Unfortunately, veterinarians experience one of the highest suicide rates of any occupation in the United States. One key step to help stop that trend is for hiring managers and supervisors such as those in your article to understand and appreciate the need for all employees to be treated respectfully and achieve a successful balance.
According to a couple quick Google searches — starting salaries for veterinarians vary between $65-$82,000. Veterinary students can expect to spend between $200-275,000 on student loans. Loan repayment in that situation would be incredibly enticing. While it wasn’t shared whether or not our local clinics offer loan repayment as a hiring incentive, it is an option worth exploring not dismissing as only achievable by large corporations. The clinics interviewed may need to focus on what they themselves can do to better attract quality candidates rather than solely focus on the quality of candidates they can recruit currently.
I offer these opinions from a viewpoint that is entirely my own, however I was inspired to write to you as I have a doctor of veterinary medicine in my own family living in another state. I often attempt to encourage her to move to Juneau as I’ve heard of the shortage, and Juneau is a great place to live. After reading this article, I can honestly say I will not encourage her to apply to the clinics interviewed. I want her to have a healthy work-life balance and work around those that understand and support each other.