Exploring the experiences and expectations of allied veterinary professionals in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Since the start of the 19th century veterinary nurses have played an increasingly pivotal role within the veterinary healthcare team. Veterinary nurses, and all allied veterinary professionals, are considered an essential component to any veterinary team today. Veterinary Technology is an emerging profession affording graduates a broad curriculum typically at bachelor-level, and a wider clinical skillset than traditional vocational veterinary nursing programmes. Massey University launched its Bachelor of Veterinary Technology (BVetTech) programme in 2009, and it ran successfully until 2021 when the programme closed. One of the key drivers for undertaking this research was to investigate the experiences of graduates of the BVetTech programme, and their contributions to the veterinary industry. The purpose of this research was to: 1) Explore the experiences of Veterinary Technology graduates in the workplace 2) Investigate the contributions graduates make to the veterinary and allied animal health industries. Whilst there is considerable literature surrounding veterinary nurses in clinical practice in the New Zealand context (Gates et al., 2021; Harvey & Cameron, 2019; Kimber & Gardner, 2016), there is a paucity of literature encompassing veterinary technologists and their experiences in the workplace. This research is the first qualitative study of the BVetTech graduates from Massey University and explores their employment experiences in depth. The study sample group comprised 15 graduates of the programme, employed in both veterinary clinical practice and allied animal health fields. This case study utilised semi-structured interviews to explore their experiences of employment, their expectations of the role, their perceptions of the BVetTech programme, and the challenges they have faced in the industry. These findings affirm comparative literature for allied veterinary professionals in clinical practice, within which BVetTech graduates are a small cohort. This research highlights the need for greater qualification recognition and utilisation of AVPs in the workplace. It also highlights the importance of professional identity and the pivotal role that BVetTech graduates can, and could more extensively, play in addressing veterinary workloads and staff shortages.