Recruitment – A Crisis for the Veterinary Profession
Between 25th September and 6th October 2017 the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) conducted a survey on recruitment within the veterinary profession. The survey drew 276 responses, 238 from veterinary surgeons and 38 from practice managers. This compares with 326 responses to a similar survey SPVS conducted in 2015.
The majority of veterinary surgeons who responded were UK nationals, with 8.9% coming from the EU and 3.4% from other overseas countries. 37% of veterinary surgeons were planning to reduce their working hours in the foreseeable future, whilst 6% were planning to move to a different sphere of work.
More than half of the businesses responding did not have a full complement of veterinary surgeons, with 28% of these reporting a severe effect on their ability to cover out of hours (OOH) work.
Most businesses had attempted to recruit a veterinary surgeon in the past 12 months, and of the applicants only 38% had come from the UK. Only 22% of respondents had found it easy to recruit a suitable applicant (defined as taking less than 3 months) compared with 30% in our previous survey. 10 businesses had received no applications at all, and 31% had failed to recruit a suitable candidate at the time of responding. An unwillingness to do OOH work was the commonest reason for candidates rejecting an offer of a position.
In further comments, 14 respondents identified the recruitment problems in the profession as being of crisis proportions. A shortage of vets, especially experienced vets, was widely recognised. A number of respondents felt that universities were failing to select suitable candidates and not preparing them for a life in practice, especially general practice. At the same time it was felt that factors such as stress, lack of recognition and low pay, coupled with the increasing feminisation of the profession, were leading to more vets reducing their hours in search of a better work life balance (WLB) or leaving the profession altogether.
A number of respondents feared that Brexit would reduce the supply of vets from the EU, further exacerbating the problems of recruitment, and there were calls for the profession to be placed on the skills shortage list to facilitate recruitment from other overseas countries.
SPVS President Elect