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Rural veterinary services in Western Australia: Part B. Rural practice

Maxwell, J., Costa, N.D., Layman, L.L. and Robertson, I.D.ORCID: 0000-0002-4255-4752 (2008) Rural veterinary services in Western Australia: Part B. Rural practice. Australian Veterinary Journal, 86 (3). pp. 74-80.

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Objective   To determine the current status of rural veterinary services in Western Australia.

Procedure   A questionnaire was sent to all eligible rural practitioners registered in 2006 and the replies were transferred to Microsoft Excel for analysis.

Results   Of the rural practitioners invited to participate in the survey replies were received from 67%. There were equal numbers of females and males. Their mean age was 44 years. Ninety per cent of respondents considered knowledge gained as an undergraduate was sufficient to equip them for practice, but only 60% considered their practical skills adequate. Thirteen per cent of those in rural practices in 2005 had left by 2006. Eighty-nine per cent of respondents were in mixed practice, the balance in specific species practice, such as equine, large animal and production animal consultancy. The majority of rural practitioners relied on servicing companion animals for their viability; 7% earned their income from servicing production animals only. Seventy per cent utilised merchandising and the sale of pet foods to supplement the income received from the traditional veterinary services and 34% found it necessary to earn an independent income. A quarter considered that rural practice did not have a future.

Conclusion   The majority of rural practitioners in Western Australia depend on companion animals, not production animals, to remain viable, with very few operating production animal services. Poor remuneration is a major reason why veterinarians leave rural practice, and many find it necessary to supplement their income or develop an independent income.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: 2008 The Authors
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