Australia’s growing rates of pet ownership coupled with record numbers of veterinarians abandoning the profession has prompted industry leaders from the Lincoln Institute in Sydney to ask the question: is it possible that the veterinary industry simply won’t be able to meet marketplace demand within the foreseeable future?
Nearly 90 per cent of veterinary business owners and managers surveyed as part of a recent industry Think Tank initiated by the Lincoln Institute reported unprecedented difficulty filling vet vacancies, with 41 per cent waiting longer than six months to fill positions and 18 per cent waiting up to two years or more to find new vets to work in their clinics.
Lincoln Institute co-director and veterinary surgeon Gary Turnbull, who owns the East Port Veterinary Hospital in Port Macquarie, said these figures are in direct conflict with Australia’s growing rates of pet ownership.
“Dogs are Australia’s most popular pet with ownership rates growing by 17 per cent between 2013-2018,” Dr Turnbull said.
“A parallel survey of working vets found almost half were considering leaving their current job within the next 12 months, and 37 per cent were contemplating leaving the industry altogether within the next year.
“Vets cited stress in their role, poor work conditions and insufficient remuneration as the leading reasons for their unhappiness. Almost half said they experienced anxiety at work on a routine basis.”
A newly-established steering committee, facilitated by the Lincoln Institute and made up of representatives from various veterinary industry groups in Australia and New Zealand will release a working paper in March 2019 with some proposed solutions to address the systemic issues identified in the survey.