Poor conditions at root of recruitment crisis say young vets

110 vets posts remain vacant nationwide
110 vets posts remain vacant nationwide

Lousie Hogan

Young vets have rejected suggestions that graduates do not want to work with cattle or in farm animal practices generally.

Helena Madden of the Recent Graduate Working Group (RGWG) of Veterinary Ireland said there were a number of issues around hiring and retaining young vets to work with large animals and it wasn’t simply an issue of graduates opting out of the sector.

“The assertion that young vets don’t want to work in mixed practices isn’t true. I work in a mixed practice and I’m happy,” Ms Madden said.

However, she pointed out that some practices were not offering “adequate working conditions” and that this was the main reason that young vets were exiting farm animal practices.

Ms Madden identified working rotas, working conditions and salaries as the main issues of contention for young vets.

Conor Geraghty of Veterinary Ireland accepted that structural weaknesses

within the Irish veterinary landscape were adding to the difficulties in hiring and retaining vets.


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Pointing out that one-third of Irish practices were single vet-operations, compared to UK where there were often 15 to 20 vets, Mr Geraghty said the workload, the lack of support and the absence of a proper work/life balance were all concerns that had to be addressed.

Helena Madden said employers needed to invest in the continued upskilling and development of their staff if they wanted to retain them. “You have to be treated right to stay in a job, it’s as simple as that,” Ms Madden insisted.

Ms Madden said the formation of the RGWG within Veterinary Ireland had been a positive development.

“We educate young vets on their rights, we offer support, and work to improve conditions,” she explained.

The RGWG also provide forums and CVE (continued veterinary education) days where newly qualified vets are encouraged to express their concerns with the profession and help come up with positive solutions to problems.

“The next one of these is in the Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny, on Saturday, November 25, and I’d encourage people to attend,” Ms Madden said.

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