Veterinarian trainer reveals top tip to improve number of vets working in rural clinics

Veterinarian trainer reveals top tip to improve number of vets working in rural clinics

Stuart Bruere is a Senior Practicing Veterinarian based at Massey University who specialises in sheep, cattle, pigs, deer and poultry.  

He wants to inspire vets to work in rural clinics and told REX host Hamish McKay new aspiring students come from all over New Zealand and often have little to no on-farm experience.

"When I trained a lot of us knew farmers and went to work on farms during the holidays so we knew a lot of what went on on farms," Bruere said.

"Nowadays, many of them haven't had any or very minimal exposure to farming lifestyles as we knew it and so it's not surprising that a lot of it is really new to them when they start on the veterinary course."

Bruere believes this is one of the biggest barriers for veterinary students looking to work in rural clinics as they have to spend a significant portion of their education learning about how farms work, relevant jargon and the specifics of caring for production animals that are so critical to New Zealand's economy.

A paper out of Surrey University in the UK published in April 2023 reported that just over one-third of students reported facing some sort of discrimination during their practical experience in rural clinics or on farms.

"About 36% of the students believe that when they were out doing rural practice experience they experienced some sort of discriminatory behaviour.

"Of that 36% about 38% said it was based on gender and 15% said it was based on ethnicity."

Bruere told McKay these statistics are consistent with anecdotal feedback he receives from students during tutorial teaching and while he is confident people aren't being intentionally nasty, he would like those people working in the rural sector to think about how they talk to people who aren't so familiar with rural life.

"They are just not conscious of the language they are using and how that might affect people

"If people can actually think about how they talk to these people when they visit rural communities and speak to them in a much more inclusive manner, I think they are going to find they will get a much better reception."

Bruere went on to talk more about the critical relationship between a Vet and a farmer, explain the main differences between an on-farm vet and a small animal vet and his recent and his biggest takeaways from leading a group of fifth-year vet students down to Marlborough and Tasman.