Objective—To assess the level of interest of university students enrolled in veterinary science courses toward becoming a veterinarian, reasons supporting or discouraging their interest, when those attitudes were formed, and future plans for those pursuing veterinary medicine as a career.
Sample—585 university students in South Dakota enrolled in 2 veterinary science courses over a 6-year period.
Procedures—Each year, students enrolled in the 2 courses answered survey questions pertaining to their interest in becoming a veterinarian, background, and future plans.
Results—Most students enrolled in these courses desired to become a veterinarian at some time in their lives. Females were more likely than males to indicate veterinary medicine as their current career choice. Most students developed their interest during grades 10 to 12. Females developed an interest in veterinary medicine earlier than did males. Enjoyment of animals, intellectual stimulation, and the opportunity to actively work outdoors were cited frequently as reasons for interest in veterinary medicine. Increased duration of education, high educational costs, and preveterinary coursework difficulty were major reasons for disinterest in becoming a veterinar-ian. Of students pursuing the profession, desired practice type correlated strongly with previous animal experience.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Considering that most students, especially males, developed their interest in veterinary medicine during grades 10 to 12, elementary school may be the best starting point for exposing students to veterinary medicine. To increase interest in large animal practice among students entering veterinary school, livestock experiences should be provided to children with no farm experience during their elementary, middle, and high school years. In our survey population, cost and duration of veterinary education had a significant negative influence on student interest in the profession.
Objective—To examine gender differences in initial and long-term salary and practice ownership expectations among first-year veterinary students.
Sample—First-year veterinary students at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine during 2000 through 2003 and 2005 through 2009.
Procedures—A 1-page survey was distributed to students during orientation exercises or on the first day of a first-year course on ethics and jurisprudence. Students were asked to indicate their expected salary at graduation and in 5-year increments after graduation and to indicate whether they expected to own a practice after graduation.
Results—Responses were obtained from 567 female and 120 male students. There was no significant difference in initial salary expectations between male and female students. However, men had higher expectations for salary increases over the course of their career, so that expected salary was significantly higher for men than for women 5 years after graduation and beyond. A significantly greater percentage of men (69/93 [74.2%]) than women (242/499 [48.5%]) indicated they expected to own a practice.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Although male and female veterinary students had similar expectations with regard to initial salaries, the male students had higher long-term salary expectations and were more likely to indicate an expectation to become a practice owner. Differences in expectations may lead to differences in behavior when those expectations are or are not met.
Objective—To determine the impact of gender and race-ethnicity on reasons applicants to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine decided to pursue a career in veterinary medicine and their career aspirations.
Design—Retrospective cross-sectional study.
Sample—Personal statements from 694 veterinary medical school applications submitted in 2008.
Procedures—Personal statements were read by investigators to identify the turning point for each applicant's decision to pursue a career in veterinary medicine and each applicant's intended career path.
Results—Veterinary practice experience and animal ownership were the most frequently stated reasons for pursuing a veterinary career; differences were not identified between males and females. More Caucasian applicants than underrepresented minority (URM) applicants stated veterinary practice experience and more URM applicants than Caucasian applicants cited animal ownership as a reason for pursuing a veterinary career. Many applicants did not cite a specific career path within veterinary medicine; applicants who indicated a career path most often cited veterinary practice. More females than males stated an interest in equine medicine, and more Caucasian applicants than URM applicants indicated an interest in mixed animal practice. More URM applicants than Caucasian applicants indicated a desire to pursue specialty training.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that veterinary practice experience and animal ownership were important factors influencing applicants' decision to pursue a veterinary career, but many applicants had not selected a specific career path. Opportunities exist to influence the decisions of individuals to become veterinarians and the selection of specific career paths within the veterinary profession.
Objective—To evaluate how the veterinary profession is represented in nonfiction children's books and determine whether representations reflect the current veterinary profession or the demographics of the United States.
Sample—Covers of 46 nonfiction children's books and contents of 45 nonfiction children's books.
Procedures—Book covers and book contents (images and text) were evaluated for representations of veterinarians and to identify settings, clients, technology and equipment, and animals portrayed. Book contents were additionally evaluated to identify specialties and career opportunities specifically mentioned in the text.
Results—Book covers predominantly portrayed veterinarians as Caucasian women who wore examination coats, worked alone in veterinary clinics, and cared for dogs without a client present. Book contents predominantly portrayed veterinarians as a Caucasian man or woman who wore an examination coat, worked as part of a team in a veterinary clinic, and helped clients care for dogs, cats, and exotic animals. Specialties and career opportunities in the veterinary profession were mentioned in the text of 29 of 45 (64.4%) books.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Nonfiction children's book covers that focused on the veterinary profession portrayed a greater percentage of women than is currently found in the profession. Similarly, books portrayed a greater percentage of Caucasians than in the current or predicted US population. With the exception of Asians, books collectively represented lower or similar percentages of underrepresented minorities, compared with the US population. Veterinarians are encouraged to select books for individual children that portray veterinarians with whom the children can identify.
Objective—To assess whether Boiler Vet Camp, a 7-day residential summer camp for students entering eighth or ninth grade in the fall, would increase participants' understanding of career options in the veterinary profession, increase understanding of the science of veterinary medicine, or increase the number of students stating that they intended to apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine.
Sample—48 individuals attending the 2009 Boiler Vet Camp.
Procedures—Information on participant demographics was obtained from camp applications. A questionnaire was administered on the first and sixth days of camp, and results were analyzed to identify changes in responses over time.
Results—More campers correctly answered questions designed to evaluate knowledge of the veterinary profession and 10 of 12 questions designed to evaluate specific knowledge of the science of veterinary medicine on day 6, compared with day 1. Remarkable differences were not observed among gender or race-ethnicity groups for these questions. There was no significant difference between percentages of campers who stated that they would apply to Purdue before and after camp. Significantly more Caucasian campers stated they would apply to Purdue on both day 1 and day 6, compared with campers from under-represented minority groups.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that the Boiler Vet Camp accomplished 2 of its 3 planned objectives, suggesting that such camps can be successfully used to increase knowledge of the veterinary profession among middle school students. Reasons for the low percentage of participants from underrepresented minorities who indicated they would apply to the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine require further exploration.