To characterize and compare the careers of alumni of the Cornell Leadership Program for Veterinary Students according to the countries where they studied and obtained their veterinary qualification. The Cornell Leadership Program is a 10-week residential research experience program for veterinary students from around the world who have ambitions for research-related careers.
Data on the career development of all 672 alumni were collected each year over the period of 1990 to 2019.
The annual career profile of each alumnus was recorded and coded in 1 of 28 different categories. The careers and postveterinary qualifications of alumni from universities in the US and Canada (referred to as North American universities) were compared with those alumni who graduated from universities in other countries.
Analysis of this 30-year database revealed that a considerable proportion (45.7% [307/672]) of the total 672 alumni are following the traditional career path of veterinary clinical practice rather than the research-related careers they aspired to as students during the Leadership Program. Furthermore, a higher proportion of the 325 North American alumni (56% [182/325]) were in clinical practice compared with 33.6% (112/333) of the 333 alumni from other countries.
Many veterinary schools now provide research experience programs to encourage highly talented students who have ambitions for careers in which they can advance knowledge about animal disease and contribute to solving the health problems of animals through hypothesis-based research. Comparison of the careers of the Leadership Program alumni indicates that research experience alone is not sufficient to maintain the career goals of alumni. Follow-up mentoring of alumni of such programs is recommended while they complete their veterinary studies to reinforce their career aspirations and provide advice on how to achieve research-related careers.