• Sara Gouveia

Reinventing your career

Veterinary school prepare us to a wide range of careers within the profession. However, as a student, we are set up to work in general practice after we graduate.

Role In General Practice

The alternatives?

It doesn’t seem right to call it alternative or a non-vet role, as many might say. It's not a failure if you don't wish to be a clinician. It is a wonderful example of how talented and diverse the profession is. There are numerous options within the profession that offer many opportunities. Each is equally important and can be incredibly rewarding as veterinarians. From veterinary teaching and research to pharmaceutical companies, general practice, government service, international organisations, charity, consultancies, wildlife and environmental conservation, etc.

Several successful veterinarians that changed their careers, frequently from general practice to a different role, report they were not aware that the peak of their careers was yet to come.

Reinventing your career after general practice

Most professionals will work as practicians at some point in their career. Nowadays, many students have a career path mapped out by final year that includes internships, residencies and postgraduate certificates. Although, it’s not uncommon for people to explore different career paths through their working lives.

To find a new challenge is, perhaps, the most popular motivation for making the change.

The BVA Voice Survey shows that 43 per cent of veterinarians that moved, considered the need of a new challenge through a non-clinical role.

The degree provides so many different skills, be that leadership, teamwork and collaboration, and these different aspects set us up to be able to explore anything we want.

Reasons Behind

While in training, doctors are exposed to daily anxiety, sleep deprivation and physical and emotional stress. Some veterinary programs, such as internships and residencies are similar to those human doctors attend to.

According to BVA’s Voice of Veterinary Profession, 41 per cent of graduates said their careers had failed to match their expectations. And, more than half were seeking a change in work, with a growing proportion considering careers outside of clinical practice.

Several professionals end up giving up due to pressured reasons, the imbalance between work and life, student loans, lack of opportunities for career development, unrealistic job expectations etc.

The lack of opportunities and the motivation for a new challenge is, perhaps, one of the main reasons for a change in career.

Other causes of disillusionment in clinical practice might be:

  • The lack of management support and the feeling of being undervalued

  • Insufficient pay

  • Long working hours

  • Unrealistic job expectations leading to the employment of individuals that are unprepared or unsuited for the realities of the clinical role

  • Clients having unrealistic expectations regarding treatments and costs involved

There are fewer vets available for employment

Losing vets due to the succession of the reasons mentioned earlier has led to a recruitment crisis. Their motives are understandable. Younger vets, in particular, are able to cut and follow a less demanding, and sometimes better paid, working life.

A few proposed factors for this employment crisis include the uncertainty about Brexit. However, the lack of vets is not strict in the UK. Similar issues have been reported in Australia.

Other factors may include the increase in part-time jobs and other large number leaving the profession at a young age. The increase of practices within the cities providing out of hours services, allowing smaller practices to grow at a faster rate. And thereafter, serving the same client and diluting the labour pool.

Possible Solutions

The necessary actions and measures should be set in Universities, or even pre-university and postgraduation, by improving the educational efforts in developing skills that prepare students to a wide range of careers within the veterinary profession.


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