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Abstract

Objective—To identify factors associated with interest in or choosing a career in rural veterinary practice (RVP).

Design—Cross-sectional descriptive study.

Sample Population—Veterinarians and veterinary students in the United States.

Procedures—Veterinary students and veterinarians in any area of practice were solicited to participate in an online survey through invitation letters sent to various veterinary associations. Proportions of respondents assigning high importance to various factors were analyzed for differences among gender, age, and background groups.

Results—1,216 responses were received. In general, survey respondents indicated that RVP could be characterized as the practice of veterinary medicine in any community where agriculture represented a significant part of the local economy. Responses also indicated that RVP should not be confused with large animal or food animal exclusive practice. Most respondents (38.9%) developed an interest in RVP early in life (before 8th grade), with 13.0% reportedly developing their interest in RVP during veterinary school. The most highly ranked factors with regard to influence on developing an interest in RVP were having relatives with a farm background, having a veterinarian in RVP as a mentor, and exposure to RVP during veterinary school. Gender, generational category, background (rural vs urban), and livestock experience were significantly associated with when respondents developed an interest in RVP and with factors important in developing that interest.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of the present study suggested that various factors are associated with interest in and choosing a career in RVP. These factors should be considered when strategies for increasing interest and encouraging careers in RVP are planned.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To identify factors associated with veterinarians leaving a career in rural veterinary practice (RVP).

Design—Cross-sectional descriptive study.

Sample Population—Veterinarians from the United States who no longer worked in RVP.

Procedures—Veterinarians in any area of practice were solicited to participate in an online survey through invitation letters sent to various veterinary associations. Those who indicated that they had left RVP were asked to rank the importance of various potential factors in their decision to leave RVP.

Results—805 responses were obtained from veterinarians who had worked in RVP, of which 246 (30.6%) had left RVP. Most (231/246 [93.9%]) of those who reported leaving RVP had been in practice > 5 years, and 75.2% (185/246) had been in practice > 12 years. Eighty-three (33.7%) who left RVP pursued careers in urban areas, 72 (29.3%) entered academia, and 7 (2.8%) retired. Reasons for leaving RVP ranked by the highest proportions of respondents as being of high importance were emergency duty, time off, salary, practice atmosphere, and family concerns. Women ranked factors such as time off, mentorship, practice atmosphere, conflict with staff, and gender issues as being of high importance more often than men did.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that the perceived shortage of veterinarians in RVP may be in part influenced by a lack of retention, particularly among experienced veterinarians. Targeted efforts to tackle issues related to emergency duty, time off, salary, practice atmosphere, and family issues could help alleviate the efflux from RVP.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association