Monday, December 14, 2015

Why is it hard to retain rural vets?

Congratulations to the veterinary graduates of 2015. There are plenty of jobs out there if you’re willing to look around, especially in practices outside of major city centres. But what if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?

One thing we tend to forget, when giving career tips, is that many veterinarians have partners (true, vets do swear an oath when they graduate, but it’s an oath to uphold animal welfare, not a vow of celibacy). These days it’s the norm for both parties to work, which may be one reason why excellent practices in more remote locations struggle to fill positions. They have enviable caseloads and offer amazing opportunities, but less appealing if the cost is a long-distance relationship.

The ABC ran an article discussing the difficulty of finding a job for non-veterinary partners in rural areas, as well as other factors such as child care.
There are “good numbers” of vets starting out in rural practice, but the challenge is retaining them.

Is it time to get a bit more creative? With so many vets available, could there be a means of taking pressure off rural vets, such as a rotating roster for on-call work? Experienced vets could sign up to do a month here or three months there. What about a register of volunteers willing to support rural-based new graduates on call? Should the government subsidise rural veterinary wages? Does the Australian Veterinary Association HR service need to play a more active role in finding jobs for partners of veterinarians?

What are your thoughts? I am aware of lots of people who have moved long distances (e.g. interstate) to pursue a role in a city-based small animal practice, so this isn't just an issue for vets who want to work with large animals - although small animal vets do have a few more options closer to major cities and often closer to home.

We’re also keen to hear from anyone who has animal related festive season plans or New Year’s Resolutions. If you to, drop us a line or message us via facebook.