In May 2021, Veterinarians were added to the immigration priority list – but do we really need to import veterinarians into Australia?
Why would it be easier to get a veterinarian from overseas, when there are veterinarians here in Australia who would like to work in their chosen profession but are being unfairly treated and so leaving the profession far too early?
There are many challenges faced by vets throughout the world – including those considering immigration.
There is a worldwide shortage of vets. Every country is looking for more vets and as there are only a few overseas vet degrees recognised here in Australia, upskilling and further examinations will be required before they can work as qualified veterinarians.
It is also a huge effort for a vet with a family to immigrate. I know this, as my family of 4 immigrated in 1969. Families who immigrate not only face culture shock, but also the loss of family ties and support. They have to find suitable accommodation, which is already at a premium throughout Australia – even in rural locations.
Finding work that is suitable is also difficult. We need vets in rural and regional areas which immigrating vets may not choose over cities, where schooling, career opportunities and social activities are seen to be more readily available.
Vets all over the world are struggling with the ongoing culture and expectations of being available 24/7. Vets are often empathetic people and cannot knowingly let an animal suffer, so can be manipulated into working for nothing or under very stressful conditions.
Vets struggle with the expectation to provide care for an animal when the owner cannot afford the necessary treatment, which quickly becomes an unworkable situation.
The average remuneration for vets is very low in comparison to comparable professions, coupled with long hours and after-hours work, without fair remuneration or adequate rest.
Vets everywhere are looking for flexible work in workplaces that are empathetic, not only to the patient and client but also to the team working under sometimes very difficult situations.
Eighty per cent of vet graduates are now women. Women have different career structures and expectations compared to the careers designed in the past. They are looking for flexibility, and when they get it, they can bring their very best veterinary selves to the workplace.
The solution to the shortage of veterinarians may be closer to home
Let’s start with the proposition that we don’t have a shortage of veterinarians.
Next, take a good look at what we are currently expecting vets to do in their day-to-day job. If you’re a practice owner, employ a practice manager to manage your business and focus on the big picture and leadership areas. If you are a veterinarian, make better use of the expertise of your veterinary nurses by letting them focus on nursing, preparation of patients and other non-veterinary jobs.
If you’re a practice owner or manager and you’re looking to employ a new veterinarian, think carefully about what they may be looking for in a job and then market directly to them. But as always, make sure that you deliver on your promises.
Provide a workplace that supports your team. Every. Single. Moment.
Ensure your clinic’s values match those of your team members and that these values are utilised every day, in everything that you do.
Think about the FACT that eighty per cent of vets will soon be women who will want a different career structure to the one we are trying to force them into now. They need flexibility due to biology and culture as they are often the family caregivers in Australia and many will want to take time to have children and look after them. This puts a break in their career and often guilt in their hearts as they want to be the best mother and the best vet.
Although vets returning to work after taking a break to have a family may need upskilling and practice, it will still be much less than a vet from overseas would need.
Do not devalue vets when they return to work, if they were up for a promotion, wage increase, or continuing education opportunities – give it to them!
Value whatever hours returning vets are able to work for your clinic whether it’s casually, part-time or full-time. No matter what the hours are, the fact that they want to commit to your clinic is wonderful. Give them autonomy as they are often experienced vets with an incredible collection of life skills.
These amazing vet-woman are everywhere!
I have found these vet women here in the regional town in which I live. They work collaboratively, kindly and with autonomy. Due to our communication and culture, we have set a high standard of health care for our patients and each team member achieves it. Everyone is supported with knowledge, time, confidence and of course autonomy and accountability.
So rather than trying to convince vets to leave their country when their own country needs them, to leave their family and friends, culture and career plans, we should instead start supporting the vets we already have here in Australia.
If you’d like to know how I’ve achieved this at High Street Veterinary Surgery, and how you can achieve it in your veterinary practice in only 8 weeks – get in touch and we can talk. Phone: 0419 634 702 or Email: [email protected]