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At face value, a veterinary career has some obvious drawbacks. It is, by its very nature, an unpredictable and challenging job dealing with problem after problem. The stakes are high, sometimes literally life or death. The work can be dirty and dangerous, all within an emotionally charged and often stressful environment. Why, then, would anyone want to be a veterinarian?
The answer, of course, lies in an implicit balance in which the rewards of the job outweigh its demands. Historically, this positive side of the work equation has been less clearly articulated than the negatives, particularly in the veterinary research literature.1 In a study summarised on page 121 of this issue of Vet Record, Adam and colleagues2 have qualitatively explored these ‘pros and cons’ from the viewpoint of one relatively small, but important, part of the veterinary workforce – farm and mixed animal practitioners in the UK. Through thematic analysis of free-text survey responses, the likes and gripes of 187 vets currently working in farm animal practice (termed ‘stayers’) were compared to those of 141 who had left farm practice (‘leavers’), in order to identify the web of factors associated with retention and attrition in the sector. …
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