The story did remind me how much times have changed. The veterinary associations around the world are all facing the implications of the gender shift of veterinary surgeons. When I trained, my class was 75% male; today it is likely to be 75% female. Apparently this is also the ratio seen in the applicants and is not caused by the girls having higher exam results. Most boys are now seeing veterinary work as a female career and making a decision at high school to choose careers in accounting, law and business, where they feel they will make more money. Medicine is still seen as desirable by both genders, even engineering, but the trend away from science in general is causing a lot of concern at tertiary level with an ongoing problem and skill shortage developing in industries.
The main issues being faced for the vet profession are that fewer graduates are entering rural practice, which leaves the country vulnerable to potential spread of diseases and less efficient herd management. Fewer vets are wanting ownership of a practice which leaves the current vets facing retirement with no one to sell their business to.
Planned government changes might help resolve the rural aspects through increased training of rural technicians and financial subsidies to attract graduates into rural areas.
We still need to develop options that include job sharing, maternity leave, part time options and recognition of a need for personal and family time for all vets. Graduates today are less prepared to work long days, or be on call all night and as a result there are now better after hours services, and fresh, dedicated day teams who are not tired after being up all night.
More clinics are combining and building modern premises to offer larger hospital services with specialists available and better equipment.
Another local clinic has just rebuilt...
Other services available can include
• Specialist X-ray facilities
• Blood pressure monitoring
• ECG • Full Dental Services
• Routine & Orthopedic surgery
Overall, the changes are great, and if vets could just charge what their services are really worth, the profession might be more attractive to both genders again, and the vet nurses and techs could also be paid what they are truly worth.
I have read three blog entries this week that summed this up far better than I can.
One features the cost of training as a vet.
This one features the perception that vets are expensive.
This one writes movingly about the realities of after hours practice and the fact that pet owners often do not have insurance, and still expect cheap rates, or even free services.
We have a number of good pet insurance schemes available in New Zealand and internationally. Talk to your local vet clinic about it and they will help you choose the right plan.
And watch this space to see the changes happening in vet practices near you...