2019 Hunter Vet Recruitment Day – Hosted by Animal Referral & Emergency Centre

2019 Hunter Vet Recruitment Day – Hosted by Animal Referral & Emergency Centre – Sunday, March 31, 2019 at 10 AM – 3 PM

Newcastle and Hunter Region Veterinary Clinics are together collaborating to host a day to share all our region has to offer for their fellow (out of region) veterinarians considering practicing in our beautiful part of the world!

Vets and vet students are cordially invited to come meet us, learn about the many & varied professional, and lifestyle opportunities available.

See our website for more details. Or email Louise for a pdf invitation lcarey@arecvet.com.au

For more information click here

Where have all the vets gone? – Vet Practice Magazine

In researching for a proposal I have come across this great article by Vet Practice Magazine’s Merran White  – it outlines some of the issues our profession must find new solutions for really well. Notably quoting the very competent and knowledgeable Debbie Neutze, AVA who has focused on the profession and created the AVA Workforce Data since 2012. Great work – Vet Practice Magazine! (DrM)

Despite a steady supply of new vet graduates, practices across Australia are finding it hard to fill job vacancies. What is going on and what can be done about it? Merran White investigates

In the past decade, the number of Australian universities offering veterinary courses has jumped from four to seven; collectively, they churn out an estimated 500-550 graduates a year.

Even accounting for the fact that some are overseas students who return home post-graduation, you would think there would be enough vets to go around. Yet many practices are having trouble attracting suitable candidates to veterinary jobs.

For Dr Debbie Delahunty, owner and head vet of Horsham Veterinary Hospital in regional Victoria, recruiting vets to her small-animal practice was never an issue—until last year. And she is not alone; at the 2016 Australian Veterinary Business Association (AVBA) conference, where she hosted dozens of delegates at roundtables on recruitment, Dr Delahunty was “really surprised” at the number of city practice owners expressing similar problems.

“While [most] seeking new graduates have few issues filling positions, employers in some regional areas in SA, the ACT, Perth and outer Sydney metropolitan areas have reported difficulties finding suitable veterinarians with three to five years’ clinical experience seeking full-time employment,” confirms AVA policy manager Dr Debbie Neutze.

What’s causing the vet drought?

Several potential contributing factors have been proposed to explain the recent recruitment squeeze in regional and, increasingly, some urban practices. They include:agriculture,

l changing industry demographics—notably, more women entering the profession, which likely means more vets seeking work in city-based small-animal private practices; taking time off for child rearing (typically five to 10 years post-graduation), then transitioning to part-time/flexible hours;

  • a desire for better work/life balance, with vets less prepared to work long and irregular hours;
  • an ongoing dearth of vets with five-plus years’ experience working in regional (mixed and production-animal) practice, despite demand;
  • vets jettisoning clinical practice for more lucrative industry roles in pharmaceuticals, or pet food—or exiting the profession entirely.

Changing demographics and career paths

Since the 1990s, the gender make-up of the profession has shifted dramatically. The ‘Australian veterinary workforce review report’ (June 2013, AVA) estimates that the proportion of female vet graduates nationwide will likely “remain at above 70 per cent for the foreseeable future”; by 2022, the report predicts, female vets will comprise more than 60 per cent of Australia’s veterinary workforce.

“The effect of this on the pool of vets available for full-time practice will depend on the rate at which female vets enter the life stage where they have small children, the hours they are then willing to work, and for how long they remain unavailable for full-time practice,” states the AVA report.

Some researchers contend the influx of women could lead to an oversupply of vets in city small-animal practices and a corresponding undersupply of vets in non-metropolitan areas, “[based on] the assumption that female vets will be more likely to spend part of their career not working or working part-time [and] the belief that female vets are (partly as a result of anticipating childcare responsibilities) less interested in rural and production animal practice”.

The quest for work/life balance

The new generation of (predominantly female) vet grads is less likely to prioritise work over family time, leisure and sleep.

“The long, irregular hours many veterinarians work has long been an issue,” says Dr Neutze. “[But] where previously the veterinarian was the primary income earner, this now is often not the case. Many more recently graduated veterinarians are looking for more balance.”

Vets’ career paths are also shifting, notes Dr Neutze. “Previously, after three to five years as an employee in clinical practice, the next career step was to become a practice owner. [Now] more practices are owned by corporates and fewer graduates are interested in being tied to owning
a practice.

“This means more veterinarians […] will remain employees throughout their careers. They will be seeking higher financial returns, as employees, compared with those of the past. They’ll want to work in practices that offer these and other benefits, or—as a significant number are now deciding [to do]—leave clinical practice altogether.”

“Many more recently graduated veterinarians are looking for more balance.”—Dr Debbie Neutze, AVA policy manager

Vets who do stay will likely be seeking jobs that offer better work-life balance; proximity to urban centres; opportunities for specialist training/mentorship and career advancement; and—if larger paychecks aren’t forthcoming—compensatory perks (parking spots, paid study/family leave).

The issue of salary

Tegan McPherson, head of People and Culture at RSPCA Victoria, thinks money is the root cause of many recruitment problems.

“Our experience is that veterinarians with greater levels of experience, five years-plus, are more difficult to recruit,” she says. “We believe it’s a pay issue. [According to Australian taxation statistics], the average total income for veterinarians in 2012-13 was $79,152, compared to those with similar degrees, such as dentists, at $144,749, and medical GPs at $153,7003.”

Veterinarian remuneration is a key component of AVA’s five strategic priorities to ensure the profession’s economic sustainability, she adds.

“It probably is about the money—and other perks,” concurs AVA’s Dr Neutze. “If practices are to attract and keep experienced veterinarians, it may be that they’ll need to review what is being offered.”

Regional cringe

Retaining experienced vets in rural, particularly production-animal practices, is an ongoing challenge.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) academics, J. Pratley and K. Abbott, cited in the AVA’s workforce review report, concluded in their own study that despite an oversupply of vets that is set to increase in coming years, rural mixed and production-animal practices are under-serviced. They further found that “job advertisements for rural vets, continued pressure from livestock industries seeking an increase in supply, and the experience of Charles Sturt University’s graduates converge to confirm that there is a shortage of rural vets willing to undertake practice with production animals.”

It is hoped that initiatives aimed at boosting the number of vets seeking rural and ag-based careers—such as CSU vet school’s preferential intake of students with farming and country backgrounds—will help redress regional shortages and take advantage of the reported demand for vet services in production-animal areas, notably intensive-livestock operations such as dairy farms.

While some contend more female vets will exacerbate the regional vet drought, CSU says its female vet graduates are as keen on production-animal work as the guys.

Only time (and follow-up data) will tell whether this new crop of ‘true-blue’ vets stays in regional practice beyond the first few years.

To read more please continue at….. Where have all the vets gone? – Vet Practice Magazine

The Path to Public Practice – 3.0 Postgraduate course work or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the study

[If you haven’t already done so, have a read of parts 1.0 and 2.0 – Guy]

So you’ve done your time in clinical practice and now you want to take the next step.

Many of us, including the team behind www.veterinarycareers.com.au, have gone into postgraduate study. The decision to undertake (yet again) more study is for a couple of reasons:

  1. To develop new skills – As professionals, we are constantly learning and we need to stay up to date with the latest studies and data out there.
  2. To have a formal qualification to enter into a new field – Many of the jobs out there require postgraduate training.
  3. To stay competitive – with the number of veterinary graduates out there, there is a need to get the step up that will improve your chances for employment.

So in the world of veterinary public practice, what courses are on offer out there?

I have had a scour around of Masters programs that are on offer in Australasia for veterinarians that are looking towards public practice. Many of these programs offer flexibility for part time study or even distance education.

Full disclosure, I am finishing off my Masters within one of these institutions. I, or the team from Veterinary Careers, do not get any kickbacks from any of these institutions (although, if any of them would like to advertise with us, point them towards this page)

The lists below is certainly not definitive, it seeks to act as a platform for further investigation and research. Unless stated, the list below is made up of primarily Masters programs from Australia and New Zealand. Some of these programs can be undertaken as a Graduate Certificate or Diploma. Additionally, I am primarily focussing on universities that have a Veterinary school or are recommended by veterinarians in public practice.

The University of Queensland (QLD)

  1. School of Veterinary Science
  2. School of Public Health

James Cook University (QLD)

  1. College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Science
    • Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
    • Master of Public Health – Generic; Communicable Disease Control; Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness
    • Master of Tropical Veterinary Science

The University of Sydney (NSW)

  1. Faculty of Veterinary Science
  2. School of Public Health


Charles Sturt University (NSW)

  1. The School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Australian National University (ACT)

  1. Research School of Population Health

The University of Melbourne (Vic)

  1. Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences
  2. The School of Population and Global Health

Murdoch University (WA)

  1. School of Veterinary and Life Sciences

Massey University (NZ)

  1. The Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences
  2. The School of Public Health

I’d consider this list as the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is on offer out there – there are plenty of universities abroad that are offering similar courses.

Ultimately, the course you chose is dependent on what you would like to gain out of the training. I personally like the broad approach that I get in my Masters program that allows me to build my overall skills in veterinary public health, while there are others who would like to get into the meaty side of Epidemiology, Conservation Biology or Policy.

Each Masters program has its strengths and weaknesses. Many of the distance education programs are reliant on discussion board, peer-peer learning – there are benefits of such a system to allow space and opportunities for everyone to have a voice compared with a physical classroom, however for those of us who are extroverts, these online classrooms can be a curse.

Does one institute provide more opportunity than the other? Generally speaking – no. Some courses provide opportunities for placements or access to networks or researchers that may not be universal, yet there is no way to truly quantify between the institutions. The universities will market themselves to get you (and your money) enrolled, so I encourage that you do your homework:

  • What do you see yourself upskilling in?
  • Are you seeking a career in driving policy, field work, management or consultancy?
  • Look around at current jobs out there and see what the selection criteria are for required education and skill sets.
  • Will the course-work match in with my work/lifestyle?
  • Am I ready to give up my spare time for this?

I personally spent 6 months hunting around the different institutions and ultimately settled on a Master of Veterinary Public Health with The University of Sydney – it certainly has been a good fit for me for my lifestyle, yet I have friends who swear by many of the other coursework Masters out there.

Best of luck and stay tuned for the next in this series – in a title I have yet to figure out!