NIVA spring summit unpacks workforce challenges
Veterinary professionals in Northern Ireland have attended a workshop to unpack the sector’s current workforce challenges.
The discussion as part of NIVA’s spring meeting took place at the Seagoe Hotel in Portadown..
The session entitled ‘Solving the veterinary workforce crisis in NI’ was open to vets, nurses, students, employers and employees alike.
The current veterinary workforce shortfall in NI is estimated to be about 10%, which is something close to 120 vets, and as many as a third of younger vets surveyed are considering leaving the profession within the next two years.
Almost 60 vets and veterinary nurses from all sectors of the profession, including a couple of current students, attended the meeting, listening to a thought-provoking presentation from veterinary business consultant Alan Robinson BVSc MRCVS DMS (Director Vet Dynamics), before being split into groups to consider the challenges they were each facing and brainstorm creative solutions.
Issues highlighted included the challenges of Brexit, demographic changes, corporatization, workload and work-related stress – none of which are unique to Northern Ireland.
The shortages however were flagged as being of particular concern in a region so heavily reliant on animal-based food production.
Attendees also agreed that students must be home-grown (a good argument for a local vet school) or attracted to explore what NI has to offer.
A subgroup of NIVA Council has now been set up to consider some strategies. They have already opened communications with some of the vet schools to try to attract students to consider EMS (Extra Mural Studies) placements in NI and are researching other ways to advertise the unique appeal of working in Northern Ireland to a wider audience.
Recent graduates also need to be attracted here and then nurtured and encouraged, ideally both by employers and understanding clients.
NIVA will now continue to focus on providing a support network and pastoral care for the whole profession in Northern Ireland, nurturing relationships in the hope that members in all sectors and at all career stages will feel welcome, connected to their peers, and motivated to remain within the “veterinary family”.
The association also thanked sponsors Ezyvet, Summit and Zoetis, whose generosity made the workshop possible.