Evaluation of factors reported by veterinarians who chose not to enter clinical academic veterinary medicine

Martin O. Furr Department of Physiological Sciences, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.

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 DVM, PhD, MA Ed

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To identify factors that may have influenced veterinarians’ decisions to not pursue careers in clinical academic veterinary medicine.

SAMPLE

363 board-certified veterinarians.

PROCEDURES

An online survey, open from July 7 to July 21, 2015, was used to gather data from board-certified veterinarians who were members of ≥ 1 of the 22 specialty organizations recognized by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties of the AVMA. Responses from those who reported never to have held an academic appointment were included in the study. Results were compiled and analyzed by gender and clinical discipline.

RESULTS

Approximately 10,000 board-certified veterinarians were solicited to participate in the survey, and 1,314 (13.1%) responded. Among those, 363 (27.6%) reported never having held an academic position. Females more commonly reported no interest in teaching (44/185 [23.8%]) and disagreement with the statement that compensation in academic medicine was too low (39/164 [23.8%]), compared with responses by males (24/158 [15.2%] and 22/148 [14.9%], respectively). The strongest magnitude of interrater agreement was for the paired survey statements regarding too much bureaucracy and excessive expectation for committee and administrative work (weighted κ, 0.569).

CONCLUSIONS

Many factors contribute to veterinarians’ decisions about whether to pursue careers in academic medicine, and results indicated that some factors may vary depending on gender or clinical discipline. Recognition of these factors may help guide academic leaders in devising strategies and programs to enhance veterinarians’ interest in clinical academic medicine careers.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To identify factors that may have influenced veterinarians’ decisions to not pursue careers in clinical academic veterinary medicine.

SAMPLE

363 board-certified veterinarians.

PROCEDURES

An online survey, open from July 7 to July 21, 2015, was used to gather data from board-certified veterinarians who were members of ≥ 1 of the 22 specialty organizations recognized by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties of the AVMA. Responses from those who reported never to have held an academic appointment were included in the study. Results were compiled and analyzed by gender and clinical discipline.

RESULTS

Approximately 10,000 board-certified veterinarians were solicited to participate in the survey, and 1,314 (13.1%) responded. Among those, 363 (27.6%) reported never having held an academic position. Females more commonly reported no interest in teaching (44/185 [23.8%]) and disagreement with the statement that compensation in academic medicine was too low (39/164 [23.8%]), compared with responses by males (24/158 [15.2%] and 22/148 [14.9%], respectively). The strongest magnitude of interrater agreement was for the paired survey statements regarding too much bureaucracy and excessive expectation for committee and administrative work (weighted κ, 0.569).

CONCLUSIONS

Many factors contribute to veterinarians’ decisions about whether to pursue careers in academic medicine, and results indicated that some factors may vary depending on gender or clinical discipline. Recognition of these factors may help guide academic leaders in devising strategies and programs to enhance veterinarians’ interest in clinical academic medicine careers.

Reports from human academic medicine describe an oncoming crisis of shortages in academic positions and difficulties in recruiting and retaining academic faculty.1 For instance, studies show that approximately 38% (approx 28,026/73,752) of physicians in clinical faculty positions in the United States left academic medicine over a 10-year period,2 and that 34% (47/139) of new faculty hires at an academic medical center in the United States resigned within 3 years.3 Problems of faculty attrition have been examined more than factors that drive individuals’ decisions whether to enter academic medicine in the first place. Factors that positively influence individuals’ choices to enter academic medicine include having an academic faculty member as a role model4 and completing a training program or publishing a manuscript during training.5 Factors that negatively impact the decision to enter academic medicine included a loss of interest during residency training, expected low compensation, and magnitude of educational debt.4,6

Similar problems in recruiting and retaining academic faculty are believed to exist in veterinary academic medicine; however, limited data exist to describe the current situation. For instance, a study7 shows that 68% (26/38) of department heads and hospital directors reported difficulty in filling positions for small animal surgery specialists. Although that report7 is dated, there is no compelling reason to believe that the situation is any better, and it may actually be worse now. In addition, the problem of faculty attrition in academic veterinary medicine, across all disciplines, was the subject of a recent report8 in which 44% (386/876) of respondents representing all recognized clinical disciplines reported leaving academic medicine completely.

The combined effects of challenges in recruiting and retaining academic faculty may have devastating effects on the future education and training of veterinary students and specialists. The purpose of the study presented here was to identify factors that may influence veterinarians’ decisions to not pursue careers in clinical academic veterinary medicine.

Materials and Methods

Survey participants

Veterinarians holding board certification in ≥ 1 of the 22 specialty organizations recognized by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties of the AVMA were eligible to participate in the online survey (Supplementary Appendix S1, available at avmajournals.avma.org/doi/suppl/10.2460/javma.256.6.701). A link to and information about the survey was distributed by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties to all board-certified veterinary specialists. Recipients were notified of the purpose of the study and provided a statement that indicated the manner in which the data were to be collected and secured. Participation in the survey was voluntary, and the study methods were evaluated and approved by the Michigan State University Research Compliance Committee for Human Subjects.

Survey instrument

Questions in the online survey were developed on the basis of findings from a review of related literature1,4,8 and the author's professional experience. Questions were constructed on the basis of a Likert-type scale (ie, strongly disagree, somewhat disagree, no opinion, somewhat agree, or strongly agree) to determine the level of respondents’ agreement with a series of statements intended to elucidate the respondents’ perceptions of clinical academic veterinary medicine. The survey was not pretested or validated before distribution, and there was no correction for multiplicity because of the exploratory nature of the study. The survey was administered with proprietary survey softwarea and was open from July 7 to July 21, 2015. The survey was provided in English, and participation was not limited to veterinarians in the United States.

Data collection

Data collection included basic demographic data (eg, age, gender, and clinical discipline) and perceptions of influencing factors reported by respondents. Data were collected in a manner that did not allow identification of individual respondents, and only 1 returned survey/respondent was included in the study.

Statistical analysis

Statistical softwareb was used to analyze data. Summary demographic information was recorded, and responses to individual questions were collated and reported as number and percentage. Continuous data were reported as the mean ± SD. The Student t test was used to evaluate differences between groups, with values of P ≤ 0.05 considered significant. The χ2 test was used to evaluate categorical data. The omnibus null hypothesis was tested with the χ2 test to evaluate whether the explained variance in results among discipline groups was significantly different than the unexplained variance. The Bonferroni correction of the χ2 test was used to evaluate multiple pairwise comparisons, with values of P < 0.001 considered significant for individual pairwise comparisons. The Fisher exact test was used for analysis of data with < 5 expected responses/category. For purposes of statistical analysis, respondents were considered to have agreed with survey statements for which they selected either “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” from among the Likert-type scale options and were considered to have disagreed with statements for which they selected either “strongly disagree” or “somewhat disagree.” Responses of “no opinion” were excluded from statistical analysis. Weighted κ statistics for interrater agreement for pairs of survey statements were calculated, and values < 0.2 were considered poor agreement, whereas values > 0.4 were considered good to very good agreement.9

Results

Sample

Approximately 10,000 board-certified veterinarians were solicited to participate in the survey, and 1,314 (13.1%) responded. Of these, 363 (27.6%) respondents indicated that they had never held an academic position, and 951 (72.4%) reported that they had or still held an academic appointment. Survey results from respondents who had or still held an academic appointment were the subject of a separate report,8 whereas the responses of those who had never held an academic position were included in the present study.

Not all questions were answered by all respondents. For instance, 5 respondents did not report their gender. Of the remaining 358 respondents, 167 (46.6%) reported they were male, and 191 (53.4%) reported they were female. Age was reported by 352 respondents, and the mean ± SD age was significantly (P = 0.001) older for males (47.4 ± 10.5 years; n = 163) versus females (43.9 ± 9.4 years; 189). Responses were received from members of 16 of the 22 recognized veterinary clinical specialty organizations; however, no responses were received from any members of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians, American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine, American College of Veterinary Micro-biologists, American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, American College of Animal Welfare, or the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology.

Gender

Overall results were summarized (Table 1), then dichotomized by gender (Table 2). Of the 343 respondents reporting both gender and teaching interest, 275 (80.2%) reported that they either somewhat or strongly disagreed with the statement that they had no interest in teaching. Seventeen of the 363 (4.7%) respondents reported that they had no opinion on this issue, failed to respond to the statement, or did not specify gender, alone or in combination. The proportion of respondents who reported that they had no interest in teaching was significantly (P = 0.047) higher for females (44/185 [23.8%]), compared with males (24/158 [15.2%]); however, there was no meaningful difference between males and females in their responses regarding interest in research. Regarding the survey statement that compensation in academic medicine is too low, 254 of 315 (80.6%) respondents somewhat or strongly agreed, and 61 (19.4%) respondents somewhat or strongly disagreed. The proportion of respondents reporting that they disagreed with the statement that compensation in academic medicine was too low was significantly (P = 0.047) higher for females (39/164 [23.8°%]), compared with males (22/148 [14.9%]). Responses did not differ substantially between males and females regarding their reported perceptions of excessive expectation for committee or administrative work, too much bureaucracy, or concern about the tenure process with academic medicine. Interestingly, although not significant (P = 0.062), 104 of 143 (72.7%) females reported that they agreed with concern about the tenure process, whereas only 73 of 118 (61.9%) males agreed with the statement.

Table 1—

Summary of survey responses* received between July 7 and July 21, 2015, from 363 board-certified veterinarians who reported that they had never held a position in clinical academic veterinary medicine.

Survey statementNo. of respondentsNo. (%) strongly agreeNo. (%) somewhat agreeNo. (%) somewhat disagreeNo. (%) strongly disagree
No interest in teaching34618 (5.2)51 (14.7)92 (26.6)185 (53.5)
No interest in research34481 (23.5)99 (28.8)74 (21.5)90 (26.2)
Quality of medicine at academic institutions is poor3383 (0.9)30 (8.9)53 (15.7)252 (74.6)
Compensation in academic medicine is too low315115 (36.5)139 (44.1)50 (15.9)11 (3.5)
Excessive expectation for committee or administrative work30479 (26.0)142 (46.7)64 (21.1)19 (6.3)
Too much bureaucracy323182 (56.3)114 (35.3)23 (7.1)4 (1.2)
No opportunities30150 (16.6)84 (27.9)105 (34.9)62 (20.6)
Concern about the tenure process26453 (20.1)127 (48.1)55 (20.8)29 (11.0)

On the basis of a Likert-type scale (ie, strongly disagree, somewhat disagree, no opinion, somewhat agree, or strongly agree), with responses of “no opinion” excluded from statistical analyses.

Table 2—

Results of analysis to identify factors potentially associated with the decision by the board-certified veterinarians, described in Table 1 and stratified by gender, to not enter clinical academic veterinary medicine.

 Overall responsesSomewhat or strongly agreeSomewhat or strongly disagree 
Survey statementNo. of malesNo. of femalesNo. (%) of malesNo. (%) of femalesNo. (%) of malesNo. (%) of femalesP value*
No interest in teaching15818524 (15.2)44 (23.8)134 (84.8)141 (76.2)0.047
No interest in research15817480 (50.6)90 (51.7)78 (49.4)84 (48.3)0.843
Quality of medicine at academic institutions is poor15718322 (14.0)15 (8.2)135 (86.0)168 (91.8)0.086
Compensation in academic medicine is too low148164126 (85.1)125 (76.2)22 (14.9)39 (23.8)0.047
Excessive expectation for committee or administrative work140161104 (74.3)116 (72.0)36 (25.7)45 (28.0)0.663
Too much bureaucracy151169138 (91.4)155 (91.7)13 (8.6)14 (8.3)0.917
No opportunities13816062 (44.9)70 (43.8)76 (55.1)90 (56.3)0.838
Concern about the tenure process11814373 (61.9)104 (72.7)45 (38.1)39 (27.3)0.062

Values of P < 0.05 (χ2 test without Bonferroni correction) were considered significant.

Discipline

When results were considered on the basis of respondents’ clinical discipline, only groups with ≥ 10 responses were included in analyses (Table 3). Not all respondents within disciplines responded to every survey statement. Self-reported interests in teaching or research, opinions about bureaucracy, and perceptions of administrative responsibilities did not differ substantially among respondents grouped by clinical discipline. In addition, most respondents of all the clinical discipline groups with ≥ 10 responses disagreed (somewhat or strongly) with the statement that the quality of medicine at academic institutions was poor. The proportion of respondents who disagreed with this statement was significantly (P < 0.001 [with Bonferroni correction] and P = 0.004 [omnibus χ2 = 24.3; df = 9]) lower for the large animal surgery group (9/16 [56%]), compared with the small animal surgery (61/67 [91%]), ABVP (78/86 [91%]), and small animal internal medicine (63/67 [94%]) groups. Most respondents of clinical discipline groups with ≥ 10 responses agreed with the statement that compensation in academic medicine is too low. However, when proportions of discipline groups in disagreement with the statement were considered, a difference was noted (omnibus χ2 = 22.2; df = 9; P = 0.008), with proportions greatest in the cardiology (3/11 [27%]), dermatology (4/14 [29%]), and ABVP (25/76 [33%]) groups; however, the proportion of respondents in disagreement with the statement differed significantly(P = 0.001; χ2 with Bonferroni correction) only between the small animal surgery (6/63 [10%]) and ABVP (25/76 [33%]) groups. Most respondents in the large animal surgery (10/13 [77%]), dermatology (9/14 [64°%]), or ABVP (42/78 [54°%]) groups agreed with the statement that there were no opportunities, whereas most respondents of the remaining groups disagreed with the statement; however, no significant (omnibus χ2 = 28.3; df = 9; P = 0.008) differences in results were identified with post hoc pairwise evaluations by use of Bonferroni correction. Most respondents agreed with the statement that they were concerned about the tenure process, with the proportion in agreement > 70% for 7 of the 10 groups (range, 72% [38/53; small animal internal medicine group] to 92% [23/25; oncology group]). However, results significantly (omnibus χ2 = 26.7; df = 9; P = 0.002) differed among groups, and the proportion of respondents who reported disagreement with concern about the tenure process was significantly (P < 0.001; χ2 with Bonferroni correction) lower in the oncology group (2/25 [8%]), compared with the dentistry (8/12 [67%]) and ABVP (29/58 [50%]) groups.

Table 3—

Summary of results from Table 2, stratified by response to survey statements and discipline group for discipline groups with ≥ 10 responses.

  No. (%) of respondents per clinical discipline group that agreed or disagreed with individual survey statements 
Survey statementNo. of responsesABVP (n = 92)Small animal internal medicine (n = 68)Small animal surgery (n = 67)Oncology (n = 28)Large animal surgery (n = 18)Dermatology (n = 17)Neurology (n = 16)Ophthalmology (n = 16)Dentistry (n = 15)Cardiology (n = 12)P value*
Interest in teaching           0.525 (8.1)
  Agree7020 (22)12 (18)12 (18)9 (32)3 (19)5 (29)3 (19)4 (25)02 (17) 
  Disagree27672 (78)55 (82)55 (82)19 (68)13 (81)12 (71)13 (81)12 (75)15 (100)10 (83) 
Interest in research           0.805 (5.3)
  Agree18545 (48)38 (56)35 (53)16 (57)10 (56)8 (47)12 (75)8 (50)6 (40)7 (58) 
  Disagree16145 (48)30 (44)31 (47)12 (43)8 (44)9 (53)4 (25)8 (50)9 (60)5 (42) 
Quality of medicine is poor           0.004 (24.3)
  Agree338 (9)4 (6)6 (9)3 11)7 (44)1 (6)1 (7)1 (6)2 (13)0 
  Disagree30578 (91)a63 (94)b61 (91)c25 (89)9 (56)a,b,c15 (94)14 (93)15 (94)13 (87)12 (100) 
Compensation is too low           0.008 (22.2)
  Agree25551 (67)54 (87)57 (91)26 (93)12 (92)10 (71)12 (86)12 (75)13 (93)8 (73) 
  Disagree5625 (33)a8 (13)6 (10)a2 (7)1 (8)4 (29)2 (14)4 (25)1 (7)3 (27) 
Excessive expectation for committee or administrative work           0.060 (16.4)
  Agree22041 (60)43 (73)49 (75)22 (88)10 (67)10 (75)9 (75)14 (88)13 (100)9 (82) 
  Disagree7927 (40)16 (27)16 (25)3 (12)5 (33)5 (25)3 (25)2 (13)02 (18) 
Too much bureaucracy           0.084 (15.3)
  Agree29765 (83)61 (97)60 (91)26 (100)15 (94)15 (94)13 (93)15 (94)15 (100)12 (100) 
  Disagree2513 (17)2 (3)6 (9)01 (6)1 (6)1 (7)1 (6)00 
No opportunities           0.008 (22.3)
  Agree13142 (54)27 (45)18 (30)10 (42)10 (77)9 (64)3 (19)5 (36)3 (27)4 (40) 
  Disagree17036 (46)33 (55)43 (71)14 (58)3 (23)5 (36)13 (81)9 (64)8 (73)6 (60) 
Tenure process           0.002 (26.7)
  Agree18029 (50)38 (72)38 (69)23 (92)9 (75)9 (75)10 (91)11 (73)4 (33)9 (82) 
  Disagree8429 (50)a15 (28)17 (31)2 (8)a,b3 (25)3 (25)1 (1)4 (27)8 (67)b2 (18) 

Reported as P values and omnibus χ2 values without Bonferroni correction.

Superscript letters that are the same within a row indicate statistical significance for that pairwise comparison with Bonferroni correction.

Not all respondents within a discipline responded to every survey statement.

When the magnitude of interrater agreement for pairs of survey statements was evaluated, the strongest agreement was detected for the paired survey statements regarding too much bureaucracy and excessive expectation for committee and administrative work (weighted κ, 0.569; P < 0.001; Table 4). In addition, strong agreements were also identified for the paired survey statements pertaining to low compensation paired with excessive committee work (weighted κ, 0.395; P < 0.001), no interest in teaching paired with no interest in research (weighted κ, 0.336; P < 0.001), and low compensation paired with too much bureaucracy (weighted κ, 0.306; P < 0.001).

Table 4—

Results of analysis to identify the magnitude of interrater agreement between results for pairs of survey statements from respondents in the discipline groups in Table 3.

Survey statementNo interest in teachingNo interest in researchQuality of medicine is poorCompensation is too lowExcessive expectation for committee or administrative workToo much bureaucracyNo opportunitiesTenure process
No interest in teaching< 0.0010.3310.1310.1800.5470.0070.135
No interest in research0.3360.4190.7880.6480.279< 0.0010.799
Quality of medicine is poor0.0520.0430.0330.388< 0.01< 0.0010.626
Compensation is too low−0.0810.0140.115< 0.001< 0.0010.296< 0.001
Excessive expectation for committee or administrative work−0.073−0.0240.0460.395< 0.0010.261< 0.001
Too much bureaucracy−0.0320.0580.2340.3060.5690.738< 0.001
No opportunities−0.144−0.1940.2090.0560.0610.018< 0.001
Tenure process−0.0810.0140.0260.2390.2480.2390.237

Values in the upper right quadrant represent P values, and values in the lower left quadrant represent weighted κ values for each pairwise comparison.

— Not applicable.

Discussion

After completing advanced clinical specialty training, veterinarians typically have a number of career opportunities to pursue. Of the options, the most common are to enter either private clinical practice or clinical academic medicine; however, other options (eg, industry and research) exist and offer various benefits and challenges, which the individual must evaluate to determine their preferred career path. The data collected in the survey of the present study provided a unique opportunity to examine factors that influenced individuals’ choices not to enter clinical academic veterinary medicine. Obtaining this information was possible because all respondents, as board-certified veterinarians, were likely qualified to enter academic careers in veterinary medicine but chose not to. The present study, to the author's knowledge, represented the first to systematically examine contributing factors for veterinarians not to pursue careers in academic veterinary medicine. The findings extended the limited knowledge on this topic and offered additional perspectives. Although results of the present study were similar to those of previous studies in academic human medicine in some respects, they differ in others.

The question of career choice has been examined in human medicine, and a number of common themes have been identified. For instance, Borges et al4 report in their review of the literature regarding academic versus nonacademic clinical medicine as a career choice that “for every reason that could engender the choice of academic medicine, there seems to be a barrier preventing a physician from entering academic medicine.” Incentives for an academic career include the opportunity to conduct research, promise of varied career opportunities, pleasure of working in an intellectual environment, and opportunity to have a broader impact on patients’ health through discovery.10 Disincentives include that academic medicine does not facilitate mentorship and has not adapted to incorporate graduates of Generations X and Y, which more highly value mentoring and work-life balance than previous generations.10–13 Additional disincentives include individuals’ concern about the competition for research dollars, perceived pay disparity between academic and nonacademic positions, and limited number of available positions.10 Furthermore, over the period of their training, residents in human medicine show decreasing interest in academic careers.14 The reasons for decreasing interests are not clear; however, 1 study6 shows that only 1,177 of 2,189 (54%) residents believed that their training provides them with the specific skills or adequate exposure to research resources or mentors needed to succeed in academia.

A large study15 of human medical school graduates shows that 18.0% (12,038/66,889) of the graduates entered academic careers and that females were more likely to do so than males; however, males who had an interest in research at the onset of their medical training, authored or co-authored a manuscript during medical school, or had lower debt were more likely than other males to enter academic careers. The authors concluded in their report15 that male and female medical students entered academic careers with different research experiences and debts, which may have impacted their career choices. In contrast, Danczyk et al16 reported that neither debt load nor gender had any effect on career choice of vascular surgeons. In the present study, a higher proportion of females (44/185 [23.8%]) than males (24/158 [15.2%]) reported no interest in teaching; however, there was no meaningful difference in their responses regarding interest in research.

Debt load was not specifically investigated in the present study; however, respondents fairly consistently reported that they considered compensation in academic medicine to be too low, and a high debt load was likely a component of that viewpoint. Similarly, a study8 shows that 80.2% (287/358) of board-certified veterinarians who had left academic positions reported that they felt compensation was too low. However, the perception of low compensation is not necessarily supported by available data. For instance, in 2016, the median and mean ± SD compensation for university professors with a degree in veterinary medicine were $106,000 and $121,593 ± $64,797, respectively, which compared somewhat favorably with the median and mean ± SD incomes for board-certified veterinarians overall ($130,000 and $148,548 ± $76,485, respectively).17 However, it is important to recognize that these values represent compensations for veterinarians from across specialties and geographic regions, and it appears that there is a wide range in compensation among the various specialties. In addition, salary ranges vary with rank and years of service in academic medicine. Although the amount of disparity in compensation is unclear, the disparity could influence decisions and may even discourage some people from investigating the possibility of an academic career, as suggested by the finding in the present study that 17.1% (62/363) of respondents did not express an opinion on the availability of opportunities in academic medicine.

Compensation satisfaction is a multidimensional factor influenced by specific jobs, individual personalities, organizational attributes, organizational commitment, and distributive justice.18 Issues of organizational commitment and justice reflect leadership and departmental culture, which studies2,8,19,20 show have a substantial influence on attrition and turnover. In the present study, a markedly higher proportion of females (39/164 [23.8%]) than males (22/148 [14.9%]) disagreed with the statement that compensation in academic medicine is too low. In addition, findings of the present study also suggested that the clinical disciplines in which veterinarians specialized impacted their decision not to pursue careers in academic veterinary medicine. The impact of the job marketplace and number of employment opportunities are likely substantial factors in determining compensation; however, no correlation was identified between these factors in the present study.

In a 2011 workshop, physicians identified 10 major obstacles to recruitment and retention of young faculty and grouped the obstacles into 3 categories: financial challenges, personal mentoring, and academic skills acquisition.21 Mentoring has a profound effect on career choice, development, and satisfaction.22,23 In human medicine, junior faculty with mentors reported greater satisfaction with time allocation at work and higher academic self-efficacy scores than did their counterparts without mentors24 Further, a systematic review25 shows that not having a mentor was consistently found to have had a negative effect on females’ choice to enter academic medicine. The present study did not evaluate mentoring, and future investigation of the issue may be warranted.

A study26 of physicians examining the choice of academic versus private practice careers indicated that the “steep climb toward the elusive ‘peak’ of professor makes an HMO [health management organization] job look like ‘smooth sailing’ by comparison, and many young physicians cannot see a clear, alternate path to success to the one modeled by senior faculty, whom they may not necessarily identify as role models.” The survey used in the present study did not specifically address this issue; however, a similar issue likely exists in veterinary medicine, and research on this issue is needed.

In the present study, the reported perception of too much bureaucracy in clinical academic veterinary medicine correlated with the reported perception of excessive expectation for committee or administrative work and the perception of inadequate compensation. These results were consistent with findings from a study8 of faculty attrition, in which dissatisfaction with these same factors was identified in higher proportions among those who had left academic medicine. Such findings in the present study were not surprising. The sources of these opinions among respondents were not sought in the present study but could have been from comments from colleagues or mentors, observation of a mentor's work schedule, or conjecture. Understanding the genesis of these perceptions would be useful for mentors and academicians in helping to advise trainees in their career choices.

Another correlation identified in the present study was reported lack of interest in teaching and lack of interest in research. This finding combined with the lack of strong correlation of either of these 2 factors with the other factors assessed suggested that many respondents had a professional focus on clinical service.

An unexpected finding in the present study was that females reported less interest in teaching than did males. This finding was in contrast to reports15,21,27,28 in human medicine that indicate females considering careers in academic medicine were more interested in opportunities to teach than to conduct biomedical research. In addition, fewer females than males in the present study reported that they agreed with the statement that compensation in veterinary academic medicine was inadequate. A study29 in academic human medicine suggests that financial rewards were less important for female versus male surgeons, whereas other studies15,16 show no difference between genders in opinions about compensation. Results of the present study did not provide adequate information regarding these 2 differences in responses on the basis of gender. Further studies are needed to investigate opinions driving these factors.

There were a number of limitations to the present study. Overall, there was a relatively low number of respondents, which might have resulted in a biased sample. Perhaps more limiting were the few to no responses by individuals in some clinical disciplines, and results for some groups in the present study should not be overinterpreted until they can be verified by larger studies. The reasons for this were unclear. Although the subsequent effect on the conclusions of the study were considered to have been minor, not having input from all specialties recognized by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties of the AVMA was a weakness of the present study and its findings. The present study did not attempt to determine which factors were the most important to respondents in their decision-making process, and determining such from the present study was not possible. Further, the present study focused only on board-certified veterinarians who, with their advanced training, were thought to have been prepared for and most likely to have entered academic veterinary medicine; therefore, results cannot be extrapolated across the spectrum of veterinary careers and opportunities. Although it could be useful to evaluate results of the present study in light of the much more robust extant literature from human medicine, it is important to recognize large potential differences that make direct extrapolation erroneous. The survey was not validated; however, doing so without compromising confidentiality was not feasible.

Specialty trained veterinarians have a number of career options, including clinical academic veterinary medicine. Although compensation is important, it is not the only factor involved with career decisions among veterinary clinical specialists. Some activities that are inherent to an academic career are simply not something that some individuals want to spend time doing. In these circumstances, it is unlikely that academic institutions can pay enough to encourage someone to enter or remain in academic medicine. Efforts to enhance residents’ research and teaching competency and to provide meaningful mentoring with a focus on developing the mentees’ careers, rather than on just technical competencies, may be more productive. For the veterinary profession to be successful in creating an increased interest in veterinarians to enter academic medicine, institutions must address factors that are important to veterinarians, and results of the present study indicated that some factors may vary depending on gender or clinical discipline. Recognition of these factors may help guide academic leaders in devising strategies and programs to enhance veterinarians’ interest in clinical academic veterinary medicine careers.

Acknowledgments

The present study was conducted by the author in partial fulfillment of requirements for the Master of Arts degree in Education (Health Professions) from Michigan State University.

The author declares that there were no conflicts of interest.

ABBREVIATIONS

ABVP

American Board of Veterinary Practitioners

CI

Confidence interval

df

Degrees of freedom

Footnotes

a.

Qualtrics Inc, Provo, Utah.

b.

SAS, version 9.4, SAS Institute Inc, Cary, NC.

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  • 7. Adams SB, Schulz K, Hardy J, et al. Retention of surgery specialists in academia: a critical agenda. J Vet Med Educ 2005;32:404415.

  • 8. Furr M. Factors associated with veterinary clinical faculty attrition. J Vet Med Educ 2018;45:1626.

  • 9. Landis JR, Koch GG. The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data. Biometrics 1977;33:159174.

  • 10. Goldacre M, Stear S, Richards R, et al. Junior doctors' views about careers in academic medicine. Med Educ 1999;33:318326.

  • 11. Schlitzkus LL, Schenarts KD, Schenarts PJ. Is your residency program ready for Generation Y? J Surg Educ 2010;67:108111.

  • 12. Valentine RJ. Presidential address: mind the gap. J Vasc Surg 2007;45:12771281.

  • 13. Bickel J, Brown AJ. Generation X: implications for faculty recruitment and development in academic health centers. Acad Med 2005;80:205210.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14. Cain JM, Schulkin J, Parisi V. Effects of perceptions and mentorship on pursuing a career in academic medicine in obstetrics and gynecology. Acad Med 2001;76:628634.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15. Andriole DA, Jeffe DB. The road to an academic medicine career: a national cohort study of male and female US medical graduates. Acad Med 2012;87:17221733.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16. Danczyk RC, Sevdallis N, Woo K, et al. Factors affecting career choice among the next generation of academic vascular surgeons. J Vasc Surg 2012;55:15091514.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 17. Dicks M, Bain B, Dutton B, et al. 2017 AVMA report on the market for veterinarians. Schaumburg, Ill: AVMA, 2017.

  • 18. Vandenberghe C, Tremblay M. The role of pay satisfaction and organizational commitment in turnover intentions: a two-sample study. J Bus Psychol 2008;22:275286.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19. Lowenstein SR, Fernandez G, Crane LA. Medical school faculty discontent: prevalence and predictors of intent to leave academic careers. BMC Med Educ 2007;7:3745.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 20. Johnsrud L, Rosser V. Faculty members morale and their intention to leave: a multi-level explanation. J Higher Educ 2002;73:518542.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 21. Kubiak NT, Guidot DM, Trimm RF, et al. Recruitment and retention in academic medicine—what junior faculty and trainees want department chairs to know. Am J Med Sci 2012;344:2427.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 22. Sambunjak D, Straus SE, Marusić A. Mentoring in academic medicine: a systematic review. JAMA 2006;296:11031115.

  • 23. Ramanan RA, Phillips RS, Davis RB, et al. Mentoring in medicine: keys to satisfaction. Am J Med 2002;112:336341.

  • 24. Feldman MD, Arean PA, Marshall SJ, et al. Does mentoring matter: results from a survey of faculty mentees at a large health sciences university. Med Educ Online 2010;15:1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25. Edmunds LD, Ovseiko PV, Shepperd S, et al. Why do women choose or reject careers in academic medicine? A narrative review of empirical evidence. Lancet 2016;388:29482958.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 26. Kenny NP, Mann KV, MacLeod H. Role modeling in physicians' professional formation: reconsidering an essential but untapped educational strategy. Acad Med 2003;78:12031210.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 27. Borges NJ, Grover AC, Navarro AM, et al. International women physicians' perspectives on choosing an academic medicine career. Perspect Med Educ 2013;2:156161.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 28. Borges NJ, Navarro AM, Grover AC. Women physicians: choosing a career in academic medicine. Acad Med 2012;87:105114.

  • 29. Corrigan MA, Sheilds CJ, Redmond HP. Factors influencing surgical career choices and advancement in Ireland and Britain. World J Surg 2007;31:19211929.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Supplementary Materials

  • 1. Vetter MH, Carter M. Differences between first and fourth year medical students' interest in pursuing careers in academic medicine. Int J Med Educ 2016;7:154157.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2. Alexander H, Lang J. The long-term retention and attrition of US medical school faculty. Anal Brief 2008;8:12.

  • 3. Bucklin BA, Valley M, Welch C, et al. Predictors of early faculty attrition at one academic medical center. BMC Med Educ 2014;14:2734.

  • 4. Borges NJ, Navarro AM, Grover A, et al. How, when, and why do physicians choose careers in academic medicine? A literature review. Acad Med 2010;85:680686.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5. Straus SE, Straus C, Tzanetos K. Career choice in academic medicine. J Gen Intern Med 2006;21:12221229.

  • 6. Neacy K, Stern SA, Kim HM, et al. Resident perception of academic skills training and impact on academic career choice. Acad Emerg Med 2000;7:14081415.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7. Adams SB, Schulz K, Hardy J, et al. Retention of surgery specialists in academia: a critical agenda. J Vet Med Educ 2005;32:404415.

  • 8. Furr M. Factors associated with veterinary clinical faculty attrition. J Vet Med Educ 2018;45:1626.

  • 9. Landis JR, Koch GG. The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data. Biometrics 1977;33:159174.

  • 10. Goldacre M, Stear S, Richards R, et al. Junior doctors' views about careers in academic medicine. Med Educ 1999;33:318326.

  • 11. Schlitzkus LL, Schenarts KD, Schenarts PJ. Is your residency program ready for Generation Y? J Surg Educ 2010;67:108111.

  • 12. Valentine RJ. Presidential address: mind the gap. J Vasc Surg 2007;45:12771281.

  • 13. Bickel J, Brown AJ. Generation X: implications for faculty recruitment and development in academic health centers. Acad Med 2005;80:205210.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14. Cain JM, Schulkin J, Parisi V. Effects of perceptions and mentorship on pursuing a career in academic medicine in obstetrics and gynecology. Acad Med 2001;76:628634.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15. Andriole DA, Jeffe DB. The road to an academic medicine career: a national cohort study of male and female US medical graduates. Acad Med 2012;87:17221733.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16. Danczyk RC, Sevdallis N, Woo K, et al. Factors affecting career choice among the next generation of academic vascular surgeons. J Vasc Surg 2012;55:15091514.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 17. Dicks M, Bain B, Dutton B, et al. 2017 AVMA report on the market for veterinarians. Schaumburg, Ill: AVMA, 2017.

  • 18. Vandenberghe C, Tremblay M. The role of pay satisfaction and organizational commitment in turnover intentions: a two-sample study. J Bus Psychol 2008;22:275286.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19. Lowenstein SR, Fernandez G, Crane LA. Medical school faculty discontent: prevalence and predictors of intent to leave academic careers. BMC Med Educ 2007;7:3745.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 20. Johnsrud L, Rosser V. Faculty members morale and their intention to leave: a multi-level explanation. J Higher Educ 2002;73:518542.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 21. Kubiak NT, Guidot DM, Trimm RF, et al. Recruitment and retention in academic medicine—what junior faculty and trainees want department chairs to know. Am J Med Sci 2012;344:2427.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 22. Sambunjak D, Straus SE, Marusić A. Mentoring in academic medicine: a systematic review. JAMA 2006;296:11031115.

  • 23. Ramanan RA, Phillips RS, Davis RB, et al. Mentoring in medicine: keys to satisfaction. Am J Med 2002;112:336341.

  • 24. Feldman MD, Arean PA, Marshall SJ, et al. Does mentoring matter: results from a survey of faculty mentees at a large health sciences university. Med Educ Online 2010;15:1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25. Edmunds LD, Ovseiko PV, Shepperd S, et al. Why do women choose or reject careers in academic medicine? A narrative review of empirical evidence. Lancet 2016;388:29482958.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 26. Kenny NP, Mann KV, MacLeod H. Role modeling in physicians' professional formation: reconsidering an essential but untapped educational strategy. Acad Med 2003;78:12031210.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 27. Borges NJ, Grover AC, Navarro AM, et al. International women physicians' perspectives on choosing an academic medicine career. Perspect Med Educ 2013;2:156161.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 28. Borges NJ, Navarro AM, Grover AC. Women physicians: choosing a career in academic medicine. Acad Med 2012;87:105114.

  • 29. Corrigan MA, Sheilds CJ, Redmond HP. Factors influencing surgical career choices and advancement in Ireland and Britain. World J Surg 2007;31:19211929.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

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