“If there’s something very serious, you’ve nearly gotta go to Townsville for real big things like horses with colic or broken legs and bits and pieces like that..”
Dr Campbell Costello examining a young orphan camel.
“So yeah, it’s quite a stint. Quite a lot of the vets from Mount Isa and even Longreach work 24/7, like there’s no weekends off or anything like that. They’re always under the pump, poor buggers. And everybody’s got an animal these days.”
“There’s plenty of bricks and mortar clinics out there. The one thing that is in such high demand is, bodies, is human resources. It’s a lot of heavy work as a flying locum or a bush vet.”
Mt Isa’s Vet Shortage
“I think my personal life really has suffered, Gillian explains.
“I don’t really see my partner very often because by the time I get home at 10, 11:30 at night [after starting work at 8.30 or 9am], he’s had dinner and he is gone to bed.”
Dr Gillian Tenni (right) has been advertising a full-time vet position to work at her clinic for more than a year. She has had to rely on locums such as Dr Campbell.
She says the long hours have made it difficult to plan for a family.
After spending several years at university, vets are among the lowest paid professions upon graduation.
Veterinarian staff shortage ‘crisis’
“We’ve got lots of jobs being advertised for veterinarians. The list is huge if you go on the recruitment sites and look at practices that are looking for veterinarians.”
Dr Campbell says his time in the air helps relieve the pressure after a tough day working on animals.
“On the two issues of workforce shortages and poor mental health, they’re intertwined, and we’re seeing them as that. And we’re working on them. We have to sort our own house out, there’s no doubt about that.”
Dr Campbell says there are changes the industry should be making to better support the mental health of people in the profession.
Among the things he wants to see change is more government funding to help sustain the industry and also change to community attitudes about the value of veterinarians.
“1.9 million pets were acquired during COVID, you know, more people went and got a pet.”