Vets are generally positive about the future of the UK veterinary profession, with 59% saying they are very, or fairly, optimistic in a new survey of more than 600 veterinary surgeons and students.

1 in 5 vets highlighted the need to reduce stress.

But vets also highlighted the need to reduce stress – the single highest priority goal for the future, with nearly a fifth (19%) of respondents choosing it from a long list of options – and secure greater public recognition for the profession.  

The survey was carried out as part of Vet Futures, a joint project from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to help the profession prepare for, and shape, its own future.

It was undertaken through BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession panel, tested findings from the early research phase of Vet Futures, explored vets’ attitudes towards their profession, and asked them to prioritise the key issues and rank some of the major threats and opportunities for the profession.  

Priority goals for veterinary surgeons varied according to different areas of work and seniority in the profession. However, an overriding and uniting theme from the findings is the pursuit of recognition for the role vets play across the board. Vets’ perception of the veterinary contribution to non-clinical roles, such as research, food supply and security, and public health, is high, but they don’t believe the general public values these roles.  

And looking to the future, four of the respondents’ top five goals for 2030 relate to recognition:

  • Veterinary leadership on animal welfare
  • Respected and valued role in society
  • Valued role for vets in education on responsible animal ownership
  • Higher profile on animal-related issues that affect public health  

In relation to the “respected and valued role of vets in society”, the Vet Futures national ICM opinion poll of more than 2,000 members of the public found 94% of the general public trusts the veterinary profession generally or completely.

In terms of their own careers, 59% felt they had met or exceeded their expectations, leaving 41% saying their careers had only met some expectations (38%), or not met any (3%). Among this large minority of dissatisfied vets the reasons for their responses included: few opportunities for progression, pay and working hours.  

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