Educational Session: Recruitment

Saturday, March 14, 2015

8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Examining Veterinary Medicine’s New Minorities: Male and Rural Undergraduate Students’ Attitudes toward the Veterinary Profession
Russ Daly, South Dakota State University

A generation ago, veterinary student bodies were more evenly distributed between genders and urban/rural backgrounds. Currently, male and rural students are minorities in veterinary colleges. Understanding the viewpoints of these students is important when diversification of student populations is sought. An annual survey of agricultural undergraduate students at a Midwestern land-grant university asks about student interest in, and attitudes towards, becoming a veterinarian. To date, 891 student responses have been obtained over 9 years. Students are asked whether they plan to attend veterinary school, and if so, to indicate their reasons why and when they became interested, and their desired practice type and location. Students not planning on veterinary school are asked whether they were once interested in becoming veterinarians, and their timing and reasons for not choosing the profession. Of this group of undergraduates, females are more likely to choose veterinary medicine than males. Reasons for male student interest in veterinary medicine are similar to those of female students, with a few exceptions. Males interested in veterinary medicine become interested later than do females. Species interests in practice are similar between genders, with a few exceptions. Reasons for males’ disinterest in veterinary medicine are different than those of females. Rural students surveyed were less likely than others to choose veterinary medicine. Their reasons differ from those of non-rural students. Rural students desire employment in different types of practice than do non-rural students. Rural students more often cite costs as a deterrent to veterinary school. Audience members will gain an understanding of how male and rural undergraduate students view veterinary medicine. This knowledge will help guide recruitment and selection for veterinary colleges looking to diversify their student body.

Learning about the Costs of Veterinary School: Pre-Veterinary Students’ Reactions to a Tuition Amortization Exercise
Russ Daly, South Dakota State University

According to surveys of agriculture students at South Dakota State University (SDSU), the high cost of veterinary school is a deterrent to their pursuit of veterinary medicine as a career. On the other hand, many other students profess dedication to becoming veterinarians regardless of the cost. In order to help students objectively understand costs of a veterinary education, pre-veterinary students enrolled in a first-year introductory course at SDSU complete an assignment that examines the cost of veterinary school and their future ability to pay for that education. Students choose a college of veterinary medicine and research current tuition costs. The four-year tuition amount is treated as a loan balance to be repaid following graduation. This amount is entered into an amortization calculator at current interest rates. The monthly payoff at 10-year and 30-year terms is compared to current starting salaries to determine the proportion of income needed to service the loan. Students write a reaction statement to the figures they have obtained. Over the past four academic years, 230 submissions have been categorized and compiled. Student reactions were categorized according to the level of surprise at the figures, and their resulting level of discouragement in continuing with the profession. Data will be presented on student reaction to veterinary school tuition levels and their resulting level of discouragement in continuing their interest in veterinary medicine. These results relative to gender, size of home community, grade in the course, and other factors will also be presented. Audience members will gain an understanding of how veterinary school costs are affecting interest in the profession by undergraduate students. This knowledge will help steer educational messages and financial management efforts directed at aspiring veterinarians.

Highlighting the Mutual Benefits of a Diverse Learning Environment while Serving a Community in Need: Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic
Greg Wolfus, Tufts University

With our large tertiary care teaching hospitals, today's graduating veterinary students are well versed in how to practice high cost ideal medicine.  We have found that complimenting this education with exposure to an economically diverse client population creates graduates who are more confident, more compassionate and eager to address the needs of their communities.
Who Are We Selecting and What Are the Outcomes?
Jacque Pelzer, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Jennifer Hodgson, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine

The applicant pool within veterinary professional programs has not changed over the past 5 years, with about 6,201 applicants per year. Of those applicants 77% are female and 19% are males with an average age of 21 years. Additionally, of those who respond to the AAVMC applicant survey and identify with at least one race, 71.81% are Caucasian. Based on this data, we know who we are selecting; 21 year old white females. What are the outcomes of this strong bias towards one group? There will be a short presentation which will include the most recent VMCAS data and theories related to student selection. This will be followed by a general discussion on the intended and/or unintended consequences of our selection decisions on both the academic programs and the profession. This discussion will focus on a variety of diversities, not just ethnicity, and how our admissions practices, not necessarily our applicant pool, may impede our ability to influence change.