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.