Author(s): Vos JH, Deleu SA, Heling W, de Vries AR, Zeeuwen AA
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Abstract The most relevant results of a written questionnaire among veterinarians in the Netherlands are presented and discussed. The inquiry was performed by MarketResponse Nederland BV. The objective was to get an overview of the current perception and the future view of the profession. The response was 37\%. Most respondents (66\%) were practitioners, 7\% were active in research or teaching institutions, 5\% were governmental employees, 5\% were employed in industry, and 17\% did not belong to any of these categories (retired, unemployed etc.). Forty-seven per cent of the veterinarians practised mainly small animal medicine, 24\% large animal medicine (cattle 15\%, swine 8\%, and poultry 1\%), and 4\% equine medicine; 24\% worked in mixed practices. This division reflects the real-life situation. The percentage of female respondents was considerably higher in the group of recent graduates than in the other groups of graduates (increasing from 27\% in the graduation period 1980-1989 to 56\% in the period 1990-1999). Sixty per cent of the veterinarians worked more than 40 hours a week. Veterinarians considered themselves reliable, honest, professional, client-minded, and animal-friendly. According to them, the public perceived veterinarians as being animal-friendly, professional, and reliable. Veterinarians were less satisfied in their current position than other professional groups, particularly with regard to their income. Their current market position was considered indifferent or good. This position was influenced negatively by the decrease in the number of animals and competition from non-veterinarians and others. The situation could be improved by collaboration and practice fusions, specialization, and differentiation. More demanding and price-conscious clients and governmental regulations were considered important trends. Social, management, and marketing skills, increased knowledge and cooperation, and a vision of future developments were considered essential in order to be able react to developments on the market. About 60\% of the practitioners and 50\% of the other veterinarians felt that they lacked the right skills, and especially management and marketing skills, to react to these developments adequately. Most veterinarians (77\%) considered that their training did not provide them with the skills needed for their current position. During training, more time should be spent on management, communication, marketing, and social skills. Based on the results, veterinary medicine in the Netherlands seems to be an introspective but good profession; however, the interesting aspects of the profession appear to be over-shadowed by less appreciated aspects and the income is moderate. Entrepreneuship is poorly developed, in part because this is considered taboo. The importance of skills that are not an integral part of veterinary medicine, such as management, marketing, and communication, is recognized, as is the lack of these skills. Despite this, emphasis is put on continuing professional education, species specialization, modernization, accreditation, and expansion of facilities and treatment possibilities as ways to respond to the market situation.
This article was published in Tijdschr Diergeneeskd
and referenced in International Journal of Economics & Management Sciences