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.
OBJECTIVE To compare vocational aspirations and outcomes of participants in the 10-week Leadership Program for Veterinary Students at Cornell University.
SAMPLE Veterinary students who participated in the program between 1990 and 2013.
PROCEDURES Questionnaires that sought information about the career aspirations of participants at the beginning and end of the program were reviewed, along with records documenting the career progression of participants, audio recordings of interviews conducted with students, and notes of vocation-oriented counseling sessions held during each year's program.
RESULTS At the conclusion of the program, 143 of 174 (82%) participants indicated they were more likely than not to undertake research training after completing their veterinary degree, compared with 106 of 174 (61%) at the beginning. Participation also stimulated interest in residency training and industry, but did little to promote interest in careers in government or the military. The percentage of participants who indicated they were more likely than not to pursue additional training in private practice decreased from 97 of 174 (56%) at the beginning of the program to 75 of 174 (43%) at the end. Information on career progression was available for 391 individuals, of whom 177 (45%) were pursuing careers of the kind envisioned by the program. However, 189 (48%) participants had a career in general or specialty clinical practice.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE The Leadership Program appeared to have a short-term influence on careers anticipated by program participants. However, a substantial proportion pursued careers in clinical practice after graduation.