Australian vets are not alone in experiencing extreme stress and high suicide rates - it's the same scene in the UK, according to visiting veterinarian Ciaran Masters.
Dr Masters has been at the Samford Valley Vet Hospital near Brisbane but is now getting reproduction experience at the Clermont Veterinary Clinic, Queensland's biggest veterinary equine breeding centre north of Toowoomba.
"We've got a Facebook group, the graduates from my year - people are saying there's lots of pressure, especially during COVID - there was a massive shortage of vets and massive expectations on them," he said.
"I think the UK might be even worse than here. Advanced diagnostics give you a lot more to do."
As well as increasing intake sizes and the number of universities offering veterinary courses, Dr Masters said there were now a lot more support programs in recognition of the mental stresses vets were facing.
In Australia, the Australian Veterinary Association has asked the federal government for a $1.5m program over three years to address the high rate of distress and suicide in the profession.
Funds would be used for a public campaign to educate the community on the role veterinarians perform in the community, along with whole of career mentoring, the provision of dedicated veterinary counselling services, and the development and delivery of veterinary-specific wellbeing education material.
The federal Agriculture Department says it recognises that veterinarians play a crucial role in protecting Australia's favourable animal health status and its animal industries.
A spokesperson said workforce issues were multi-factorial and improving the situation required a unified approach that includes employers, employees, universities and government.
"The department contributes to a unified approach by regularly engaging with veterinary organisations and supporting veterinary education and career pathways," the statement read, listing a number of examples.
These included regular meetings with the AVA and other bodies, such as veterinary schools and registration bodies, hosting vet students for final year placements and providing experience in government veterinary work, establishing a new veterinary stream within the department's graduate program to support veterinarians to explore career pathways, and initiating discussions about attracting, developing and retaining veterinarians with other countries, with the aim of sharing and learning from each other's initiatives.
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