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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2010 Apr 15;236(8):849-57. doi: 10.2460/javma.236.8.849.

A survey of reasons why veterinarians enter rural veterinary practice in the United States.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.



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


Cross-sectional descriptive study.


Veterinarians and veterinary students in the United States.


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.


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.


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.

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