65% of vets on the VCI register qualified in UCD, while a further 35% obtained their degree overseas, according to Niamh Muldoon, Registrar and CEO of the Veterinary Council of Ireland, writes farming journalist, Catherina Cunnane.
She appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee On Agriculture, Food and the Marine on May 10th, 2023, which met to discuss the widely reported proposal for a new school of veterinary medicine in Ireland.
Muldoon told the meeting that 52% of vets on the register are male and 48% female.
Meanwhile, 70% of vets on the register are in clinical practice, 20% in government agency/local authority work, 4% in university/education roles, 3% in industry, and the remaining 3% in research, retired or other categories.
Of those in clinical practice, she told the sitting, 40% are in companion animal practice, 35% are in mixed animal practice, 13% are in farm animal and 12% are in equine practice.
Muldoon said: “Recruitment and retention challenges in veterinary practice are common across the world, prevalent in Canada, US, UK, New Zealand and Australia, and this appears increasingly so in rural large animal practice in Ireland.”
“Factors including work-life balance and terms and conditions of practice are all factors impacting migration within the register of veterinary practitioners, influencing the area of practice for vets.”
“Increased capacity in veterinary medicine places will assist Irish students in access to study veterinary medicine alongside other elements which may require consideration to address recruitment and retention challenges,” she added.
Studying vet med overseas
Muldoon explained that for context, of the 302 vets who registered with the Veterinary Council in 2022, 80 were awarded their Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine Degree from UCD.
The remaining 222 vets graduated from accredited schools of veterinary medicine abroad, with the most popular being Budapest University of Veterinary Science, which accounted for 35 newly registered vets last year, and Warsaw University of Life Sciences, which accounted for 14 registered vets).
“While we believe it is a positive sign of international cooperation and a distinct benefit for Ireland’s veterinary medicine sector that students can choose to pursue their education abroad, it is recognised that this is not always a viable alternative for students who wish to study veterinary medicine but do not achieve the high CAO points typically required to study in Ireland,” she explained.
About the VCI
The VCI is the independent statutory body responsible for the regulation and management of the veterinary professions, being veterinary practitioners and veterinary nurses in Ireland.
The principal function of the Veterinary Council is to regulate the practice of veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing in the Republic of Ireland, in the interest of animal health and welfare and in the interest of public health.