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Influences on the decision to study veterinary medicine: variation with sex and background
  1. J. L. Tomlin, BSc, BVetMed, CertSAS, DipECVS, MRCVS1,
  2. D. C. Brodbelt, MA, VetMB, PhD, DVA, DipECVAA, FHEA, MRCVS1 and
  3. S. A. May, MA, VetMB, PhD, DVR, DEO, FRCVS, DipECVS, FHEA1
  1. 1Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA
  1. E-mail for correspondence: jtomlin{at}


A questionnaire was developed to look at attitudes to veterinary medicine as a career choice among students at different stages of the veterinary course at the Royal Veterinary College. Traditional-entry first-year and final-year students, as well as entry-level ‘Gateway’ (widening participation) students, were invited to participate. Wanting to work with animals and exposure to a veterinary role model through taking a sick animal to visit a veterinary surgeon appeared to be major factors in choosing a veterinary career for all undergraduates, regardless of their socioeconomic background. Overall, women were more strongly influenced by owning animals (P=0.014), and men were more positively influenced by the challenging reputation of the course (P=0.028). When the students were asked to indicate their top three reasons for wanting to become a vet, men were 9.5 times as likely as women to select ‘Want to train as a scientist’, 5.3 times as likely to select ‘Join a profession’ and 13.2 times as likely to select ‘Hardest course to get in to’; the top choice for both sexes was ‘Want to work with animals’. Thirty-one per cent of the students felt their careers adviser had been a negative influence on their decision to become a vet.

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