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Agricultural consultancy — a career choice for veterinarians

Taylor, K.L., Swan, R.A. and Chapman, H.M. (2000) Agricultural consultancy — a career choice for veterinarians. Australian Veterinary Journal, 78 (7). pp. 489-493.

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Objective To document the personal, educational and professional skills that characterise veterinarians pursuing careers as agricultural consultants and to determine the future direction for veterinary-related advisory services to agriculture in Australia.

Design Thirty-six veterinarians practising as consultants in agriculture throughout Australia were sent a postal survey in 1994.

Procedure A descriptive analysis was chosen because of the relatively small population available to sample. Comparisons were made on a percentage basis where appropriate.

Results Twenty-four useable responses to the questionnaire were received. Consultants were mostly men with an agricultural background, aged 31 to 40 years. They considered their undergraduate veterinary studies to be a stepping stone into further education and practical experience and ultimately consultancy. Consultants predicted an increased reliance for their work on corporate farms, private agribusiness, research and development and sub-contracted work, rather than on family-owned farms. Consultants disagreed on the wisdom of combining consultancy activities with alternative businesses (for instance mixed veterinary practice). Only 13 consultants derived greater than 76% of their income from consultancy and 14 combined another business with consulting. The need for continuing education was considered important. Consultants predicted various future prospects for the industry. Many predicted that there would not be enough veterinarians to fulfill the demand for this type of work.

Implications for the veterinary profession Results from this survey suggest that veterinary consulting will extend into finance, agronomy and marketing in addition to current skills in animal nutrition, parasite control and animal reproduction. As clients demand specialised skills and knowledge, the formation of co-operatives or companies of specialists may be beneficial to both client and consultant in the future. The consultant:s role can be characterised as one of extending relevant information to clients in a useful form. Excellent communication skills are necessary, as is an understanding of rural issues and animal industries.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
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