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Investigation of factors affecting recruitment and retention in the UK veterinary profession
  1. Jennifer R Hagen1,
  2. Renate Weller2,
  3. Timothy Stephen Mair3 and
  4. Tierney Kinnison1
  1. 1Lifelong Independent Veterinary Education (LIVE) Centre, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK
  2. 2British Equine Veterinary Association, Ely, UK
  3. 3The Bell Equine Veterinary Clinic, Maidstone, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tierney Kinnison, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK; tkinnison{at}


Background Recruitment and retention is currently of major concern and has resulted in the veterinary profession being returned to the UK’s Shortage Occupation List in 2019.

Methods An online questionnaire of veterinary employees and employers investigating factors contributing to leaving/staying in current employment and the profession. The questionnaire was distributed via specialist veterinary associations’ email lists and social media from September to October 2018.

Results Respondents had few job changes (median 3), however, 43.7 per cent (n=2390) reported that they were likely or very likely to leave their employment within two years. Vets who were recently qualified, on lower salaries and female were more likely to plan to leave. Most frequently chosen reasons to stay in a position were: team, location and family. Most commonly cited reasons to leave were: work-life balance, management and salary. Respondents most disliked dealing with people, work-life balance and the physical/emotional impacts of the job. They would most like to change the hours worked, team aspects and management. Employers suggested that it was difficult to employ a veterinary surgeon, especially an experienced individual.

Conclusion The current retention crisis is due in part to the differing requirements between modern-day veterinary employees, their employers, the public and the profession.

  • practice management
  • stress
  • surveys
  • veterinary profession
  • women in the veterinary profession
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  • Funding This study was funded by Royal Veterinary College, LIVE Summer Studentship (CEL 1863) to veterinary student JRH.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the Royal Veterinary College’s Social Sciences Research Ethical Review Board (SR2018-1650).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.

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