The Curious Case Of Australian Veterinary Undersupply


In their latest review of the Australian Veterinary Workplace Survey the AVA appended the following statement:

“We are currently hearing about Veterinary practices which are having problems with finding graduates – especially with a few years experience – to fill positions. With an increased number of graduates coming out of universities, more research is needed to understand why this is the case…”


By all accounts, the employment market for Veterinarians appears to be defying gravity. The universities are continuing to produce ever large cohorts of new graduates. In the same time the real world pattern is that of declining per ownership. While the dollar spent per pet in Australia is increasing slightly, this is more then offset by decreasing numbers of pets in the community. 

So what is driving the increasing demand for Veterinarians? A number of suggestions have been offered.

– With the increasing feminisation of the profession, female graduates may be seeking flexible work hours and moving away from traditional full time employment.

– Increasing numbers of graduates may be leaving the profession.

– The new corporate players have Veterinary customer service models radically different from the traditional owner-manager models.

Root causes notwithstanding, it is a solid bet that the current oversupply is a temporary phenomenon. You can only defy gravity for so long and the natural market forces will assert themselves eventually. So for Australian Veterinarians, the current situation may be presenting a unique opportunity.

For those currently out of the profession, there has never been a better time to consider returning. And not just because the financial rewards for casual Veterinarians are now higher then ever (which is already a strong argument on its’ own). Employers in need of workers are more then ever willing to flexible hours and non-traditional work arrangements.

For those already employed, this is the opportunity to advance their career further. With employees in short supply, managers are more then ever willing to sweeten the deal with training opportunities, performance incentives and relocation cost reimbursements.  For anyone looking to advance their career – into management or specialist practice, now is the time to do it.

For the employers, with the vacancies harder to fill then ever, now is the time to hold on to your best people. There is plenty of research that work engagement and training opportunities are valued higher by employees then pay rates alone, so before you lose your best and brightest to the competition down the road, start asking questions and tailoring career paths to suit those most eager to grow. 

With the right approach and a little career planning, this could be a great opportunity for all of us.

About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim is a house call Veterinarian in Melbourne


  1. Duncan

    Given the current remuneration of vets vs others in similar medical professions (e.g. doctors/dentists), one has to wonder if there really is an undersupply of vets. Perhaps it is really a case of an oversupply, with consequent low wages, and then an increasing realisation that a veterinary degree can open more lucrative jobs outside of the traditional clinic. The question is – are we losing our best and brightest, and where are they going?

    • Duncan, I think you are absolutely right. I have long felt that Veterinarians have been inadequately recognised for their skill. Let’s hope that that this is about to change.

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