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Does the equine veterinary industry do enough to accommodate family life?

No, answered the majority of vets attending a debate at the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Congress in September. Of the voters, 92% answered yes to the question, “Does equine practice need to change to become more compatible with family life?”

Until recently men dominated the veterinary profession, but this is changing with 76% of new graduate intakes now women.

As more females join equine practices they bring different personal expectations; many vets want a better work-life balance.

“Choosing to be an equine vet shouldn’t go hand-in-hand with giving up the rest of your life,” said veterinary coach Carolyne Crowe. “Allowing flexibility within job roles should result in more engagement, productivity and thus economic benefit for the practice.”

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Job share that included allocation of the out-of-hours rota, was cited as a solution for those juggling maternity leave and parenthood.

Consistency for attending vets could also be achieved by introducing two vets of equal calibre to the client from the outset.

BEVA president Mark Bowen said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome of the vote.

“It reiterates the importance of moving with the times to evaluate the needs of working parents and make the equine veterinary workplace more adaptable to family life,” he said.

Julian Samuelson from Bell Equine told H&H that the effects of these changes are only just starting to be felt.

“One obvious manifestation is the significant increase in practices advertising for cover for maternity leave,” he said.“I do not recall seeing as many adverts for this type of position as I have seen in recent weeks.”

He added that it is inevitable these changes will lead to a transformation in the way vet practices work.

“The industry has been very good at evolving to deal with business environment pressures and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so.

“I suspect that as part of this trend we will see practices looking at ways they can work together to improve the efficiency of the resources they have available, particularly in areas such as out-of-hours service”

BEVA is already working on various projects to help address and support the needs of members who are striving for a better work-life balance. Initiatives will be announced later this year.

Ref: H&H 12 November, 2015