Retaining vets in farm practice has been identified as a key strategy to maintain an adequately trained and experienced workforce to provide animal health services for livestock enterprises and government. This qualitative study aimed to explore vets’ experiences of UK farm animal practice and their perceptions of the factors that influenced their career choices. Thematic analysis of free-text survey responses from 187 vets working in farm practice and 141 who had given up farm work identified four main themes: affect (experiences of feeling or emotions), personal life, the job and the bigger picture. Those who stayed in farm practice described satisfaction with their career and enjoyment of physical, outdoor work in rural communities. Choosing to give up farm work was influenced by both personal and professional circumstances and related frequently to management issues in practice. Veterinary businesses also face challenges from the broader agricultural and veterinary sectors that affect their ability to support and retain vets. The findings presented build on previous quantitative analysis of factors associated with retention and demonstrate the complexity of individual vets’ career choices.
- veterinary profession
- farm animals
- practice management
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Funding The study was funded by Norbrook Pharmaceuticals as part of the first author’s PhD research at the Royal Veterinary College.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval The details were approved by the ethics review committee of the Royal Veterinary College.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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