Forms of employment and species caseload of veterinary practitioners in New Zealand

Forms of employment and species caseload of veterinary practitioners in New Zealand
Peer reviewed


A survey by means of a postal questionnaire was undertaken to investigate the patterns of work and the need for information of veterinary practitioners in New Zealand. Of the 670 eligible veterinarians, 399 practitioners (60 per cent) participated in the survey. Of these, 38 per cent were in large animal practice (less than 20 per cent of work devoted to cats and dogs) and 31 per cent were in small animal practice (more than 80 per cent of work with cats and dogs). The remaining 31 per cent were in mixed practice, with a workload intermediate between the other two groups. Across the entire sample of practitioners, cats and dogs took up the largest number of veterinary hours per person (1092 hours per year). Dairy cattle were second (438 hours), and horses third (302 hours). Deer and goats ranked next, and each used more veterinary hours per person than did either sheep or beef cattle. Other species comprised very minor parts of the overall workload. Women spent a much higher proportion of their working hours with small animals and a much lower proportion with horses than did men. For other species workload patterns were similar between men and women. In relation to employment of the practitioner group, women were under represented, compared with men, among those with responsibilities for the management of practices, even when account was taken of the fact that the women in the sample were younger. Fewer than one per cent of men in the sample were not employed full-time, whereas 15 per cent of the women were in part-time employment. The survey indicates that there has been a substantial change in the demographic structure of the veterinary profession and the forms of veterinary work carried out. It also shows that the differences in work and career patterns between men and women need more intensive study to improve the accuracy of predictions of future requirements for veterinary manpower.

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