Although many veterinary clinics around the country struggle to secure veterinarians, the task is more challenging if your clinic is in a rural area. New graduate veterinarians are often up to the challenge of ‘heading out bush’, however it can be difficult to retain them for more than a couple of years. Attracting experienced veterinarians to rural areas is even more difficult.
Some rural clinics have risen to the challenge by employing creative recruitment methods. We took a look at some of the more unique strategies employed by rural veterinary clinics to attract prospective staff.
Although not an option for every practice, numerous rural veterinary clinics offer free accommodation for a short period to help new veterinarians settle into town. Some clinics offer ongoing free or heavily discounted accommodation, particularly if the accommodation is attached to the clinic. This can be a useful strategy if the on-call roster is heavy, as the effort required to attend the clinic is greatly reduced.
If large animal work is a job requirement, or if on-call duties are demanding, it can be a good idea to offer a work vehicle to the new veterinarian to get to and from the practice. It’s one less thing for your new veterinarian to have to worry about.
Rostered days off (RDOs) and flexible working conditions
If your new veterinarian will be moving away from family and friends for this role, it’s a good idea to provide flexibility in their working schedule so they can take trips as needed. Giving new staff time to explore the region and visit family and friends can ease the adjustment period and ensure they don’t feel cut off from those they love.
Free flights for the right candidates
In an attempt to attract quality staff, several clinics offer free flights for potential candidates to visit the practice. This removes a barrier for candidates, as they get to trial the town and practice before committing. Another option is to offer annual return flights if the practice is located in a particularly isolated area, to allow veterinarians to visit family every year.
Paid CPD, CPD leave and conferences
Some clinics offer paid annual membership with the AVA, others pay for a veterinarian’s annual registration fee and radiation licence. By taking on the cost of these expenses for your veterinarian, it removes one less worry for your employee. Paying for conferences is another good option, as this allows the clinic to direct the veterinarian towards CPD which would be beneficial to the practice. Subsidise your employees registration to the AVA Annual Conference or other conferences of their choice.
Attracting good candidates for a rural role can often be difficult, however, it’s worth considering creative methods to attract veterinarians which might help your clinic stand out from the crowd. Every veterinarian will be drawn to different aspects of a job, so finding out what works best for your ideal candidate will be the key to securing them at your practice.
This article appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal