Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has welcomed 30 new vets onto the 2013 intake of the Rural Veterinary Bonding Scheme.
“The scheme is now in its fifth year and is making real headway in tackling the rural vet shortage,” says Mr Guy. . .
“The scheme is a solid incentive, helping to make rural practices more attractive to junior vets who might otherwise end up in city clinics or heading overseas. . .
The rural veterinary bonding scheme for Massey graduates is fully subscribed with 102 veterinary graduates working in rural veterinary practices around New Zealand according to official figures released today.
“Even better, 96% of those entering the scheme from the time it commenced in have stayed in it,” Gavin Sinclair, president of the NZVA said.
“While it is still early days, and there still seem to be some stubborn (hard to recruit) rural regions, this result is encouraging. The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) lobbied hard for the introduction of the scheme at a time when there were gaps appearing in the thin green line that is the veterinary rural workforce in New Zealand.
“The first tranche of graduates received their first payment of $33,000 before tax ($11,000 per year) just prior to Christmas. At that point, four had left the scheme, and ten had moved to other rural practices. This is just what we wanted; young veterinarians settling into rural practice and hopefully remaining there. They are sorely needed,” Dr Sinclair said.
Government has significant responsibilities for food safety, animal welfare, and biosecurity and it relies on the thin green line of veterinarians to monitor livestock to ensure these responsibilities are met. The risks arising from late recognition of an exotic disease outbreak, food safety concerns, and animal welfare disasters, on our international markets are serious. Veterinary involvement in managing all these risks has been recognised in part by government support of the scheme.
For farmers, it also means a viable, sustainable, cost effective and responsive rural veterinary workforce for the ongoing day-to-day, 24/7 demands of both routine and emergency clinical services.
“A rural veterinary practice faces many risks and challenges, not the least being able to sustain the 24/7 on call requirement. These practices have a high workload and a surprisingly low level of remuneration which can make the work unattractive to young graduates,” Dr Gavin Sinclair explained.
National introduced bonding for graduates in human and animal health professions who were prepared to work in hard to staff rural areas soon after coming into government.
It’s one of the best ways of student support. It keeps graduates in sought-after disciplines in New Zealand, directs them where they’re most needed and provides them with a financial incentive for going there.
He commented there are also demographic trends, most notably the increasing numbers of female graduates (85% of new graduates from Massey are female) who are wanting flexible working arrangements, often part time over time, and increasingly in companion animal (pet) practices in urban areas. . .
That demographic trend isn’t confined to vet practices.
As more women combine work with raising families the demand for flexible working arrangements increases.