The shortage of veterinarians working in food supply veterinary medicine has been identified as a high priority, and several actions have been suggested to help alleviate the shortage of veterinarians in this discipline.1–4 Addressing the shortage of veterinarians in food supply veterinary medicine will require not only attracting veterinarians and veterinary students to this field of practice but also identifying ways to retain those who choose a career in food supply veterinary medicine. Although food supply veterinary medicine and RVP are not synonymous, veterinarians employed in RVP tend to practice in areas where agriculture represents a significant part of the local economy.5 Therefore, addressing the perceived shortage of veterinarians in RVP should also be considered a priority.
Although there are few studies specifically targeting RVP, some information may potentially be obtained from studies of large animal practice, food animal practice, food supply veterinary medicine, and mixed animal veterinary practice, in that all of these may reasonably be considered to include components of RVP.6 From these studies, it appears that the perceived shortage of veterinarians in RVP may be attributable, at least in part, to a lack of interested students entering veterinary school,3,7 loss of interest in food animal practice7,8 or mixed animal practice8,9 during veterinary school, or a lack of retention in food supply veterinary medicine9 or mixed animal practice after graduation.6,8 Reported factors influencing the lack of retention include perceived lower salaries in rural practice and long working hours that interfere with a balanced lifestyle between work and family.8
The present study represents part of a larger effort to understand factors that influence veterinarians to enter and remain employed in RVP. A previous study5 described factors associated with influencing veterinarians and veterinary students to become interested in and choose a career in RVP, whereas the present study focused on factors associated with why veterinarians leave RVP.
Rural veterinary practice
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