Taking Animal Health Forward: Industry experts share their view at NZVA & NZVNA Conference

MEDIA RELEASE (prepared by Boehringer Ingelheim New Zealand)
Published on 24 June 2024

The animal health sector needs to change to keep up with the times, according to the discussion at a breakfast event hosted by Boehringer Ingelheim at the NZVA and NZVNA Conference in Christchurch last Friday.

The event shared the findings from a comprehensive survey of the sector conducted by Boehringer Ingelheim in collaboration with the New Zealand Veterinary Association Te Pae Kīrehe (NZVA) and New Zealand Veterinary Nursing Association (NZVNA). The survey covered perceptions from more than 600 people in the sector including vet nurses, veterinarians, clinic management and others.

At the breakfast event, Paul Fitzpatrick, Head of Animal Health New Zealand, Boehringer Ingelheim, hosted panellists Kevin Bryant, CEO of NZVA, Laura Harvey, President of NZVNA, and Nick Cooper, CEO of Carevets, for a wide-ranging discussion. The panellists discussed the importance of ensuring that great staff stay in the industry, the opportunity for ongoing training, how to build better public understanding of the sector’s work, and the difference between the experiences of vets and vet nurses.

Paul Fitzpatrick said the survey results demonstrated the need for this conversation, and more like it. “These responses really underscored how much work we have to do. For example, 70 per cent of respondents felt that their role and the role of the broader veterinary sector is not well understood and appreciated by the general public, which shows that shifting perceptions needs to be a priority.”

Kevin Bryant said it’s critical to tackle these opportunities together. “The challenges the industry is facing are not new. A lot of good work is happening but we need to increase the pace of change to ensure that our sector can thrive in the future. The kind of change we’re talking about requires collaboration across the industry, no matter your role or location.”

Laura Harvey challenged the industry to support vet nurses better. “Vet nurses are highly trained professionals, and yet they struggle more than others in the industry to get recognition and support. Things have been improving over recent years for our members, but our sector can’t succeed unless it is properly supporting everyone who is a part of it. For vet nurses that means ensuring proper remuneration, career progression and support in the workplace.”

Nick Cooper said New Zealand has the opportunity to be a leader in this industry. “We’re a nation of animal lovers, so the potential for us to build a great, respected veterinary industry is huge. We’ve been making good progress  already, and we need to work together to go out and seize that opportunity.”

Following the discussion, Boehringer Ingelheim will be working with the industry to build out further resources and support for New Zealand veterinary professionals in the coming months.

Fitzpatrick added that it’s a critical priority for the company. “In our fiftieth year in New Zealand, we’re absolutely committed to supporting this sector to grow and thrive in the future. We’re thrilled at how well the industry has  ngaged with this work so far, and look forward to building on it into the future.”

Media contact
Reilly Hodson
Acumen New Zealand on behalf of Boehringer Ingelheim
+64 22 322 9776

Survey background
The survey was conducted by Boehringer Ingelheim in May 2024, with responses from 654 professionals in the veterinary sector in New Zealand, including veterinarians, vet nurses, business managers, veterinary technologists and other clinic staff. Respondents were self-selecting from the communities of the NZVA, NZVNA and Boehringer Ingelheim. Further results from the survey will be shared over the coming months.