The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has published its Surveys of the Veterinary and Veterinary Nursing Professions 2014.

The surveys provide a snapshot of the current state of the veterinary and veterinary nursing professions, with the results providing information in a number of areas, including demographics, work status, job satisfaction and well-being, among others.

Furthermore, the results gauge individual views on the current state of the profession.

According to the RCVS, the information from the surveys is important for informing future RCVS policy and activities across a wide range of areas.

The four-yearly survey, carried out by the Institute for Employment Studies, was principally available online only this year, although hard copies were supplied on request.

Some 6,988 veterinary surgeons (27% of the profession) and 3,612 registered/listed veterinary nurses (31% of the profession) responded to this year’s surveys, as well as 1,792 student veterinary nurses.

This year’s surveys also included a set of questions about 24-hour emergency cover, which contributed to the recent review of RCVS guidance in this area, and, for the first time, questions from the Government-backed Social Mobility Toolkit, which aims to assess the social background of members of the profession.

Some of the key results for veterinary surgeons include:

  • For the first time, this year more than half (53.8%) of respondents were women – in line with the long-term trend towards the “feminisation” of the profession.
  • Since the 2010 survey the share of respondents employed in mixed animal practices has declined from 22.1% to 15.8%, while the proportion of respondents employed in small animal/exotic practices has increased from 48.9% to 53.6% in the same period.
  • Although more than half (52%) of recently qualified veterinary surgeons went straight into practice work, some 17.8% reported they were unable to find employment after graduation – compared to 13.6% in 2010.
  • Although almost 90% of respondents stated veterinary work is stressful, a similar proportion said veterinary work gives variety and more than 80% said it provides job satisfaction.
Other issues highlighted by respondents included the need for better pay and remuneration, and the high demands placed on them by clients.

Some of the key results for veterinary nurses include:

  • There was a noticeable decrease in the proportion of veterinary nurses who are employed full-time – from 74.7% in 2010 to 67% this year.
  • Veterinary nurses are generally more positive about the profession this year, compared to the 2010 survey. For example, 60% said they would choose to become a VN again if they started their career over, compared to 54% in 2010. However, poor pay and stress were highlighted as issues.
  • There was a significant shift away from employer-funded CPD to free provision.

For student veterinary nurses, the proportion intending to remain employed at their training practice after qualification has fallen from 61% in 2010 to 52% this year.

Both the Survey of the Veterinary Profession and the Survey of the Veterinary Nursing Profession, together with a report that brings together common themes, can be downloaded from

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