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Specialists serving specialists

Compare the working environment, opportunities and challenges of Australia’s 100,000-strong medical, dental and veterinary professions.

The report reveals the changing demographics of Australia’s most influential healthcare professionals, and identifies distinct and differing trends across each profession.

Different profession, different challenges

As well as the years of vocational training that they all need, the three groups of specialists have a number of features in common: they all earn relatively high incomes; increasing numbers of specialists are women; over one third of each group are over 50 years of age.

However, it is the differences that are even more noteworthy:

  • doctors can expect demand for their services to rise, driven largely by the growth and ageing of Australia’s population. New treatments and the establishments of large clinics by medical entrepreneurs mean that productivity and efficiency is improving.
  • however, at the same time, doctors are increasingly having to deal with the impact of new technology, rapidly changing how they both treat and interact with patients, and the increasing corporatisation of medicine.
  • by contrast, dentists face an income squeeze. The surge in the number of dental graduates, and migration of dentists to Australia from overseas, means that the cost of dentistry to the patient is coming down. Whilst the cost of setting up a dental practice has roughly doubled over the last decade.
  • the issues for vets are different again. Vets have moved from being mainly providers of care to sick and injured animals to being suppliers of comprehensive pet care solutions. Their clinics often include stylish retail areas, offering pet food, leads/collars and pet toys. Many vets are thinking about branding and marketing.
  • meanwhile, 60% of vets are women (and the number is higher for younger vets), many of them are looking to work part time as they balance work and family commitments.

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