veterinary students at WSUPULLMAN, Wash. – To help make their education as relevant to the profession as possible, Washington State University veterinary students will survey veterinarians nationwide to assess their expectations of new graduates’ abilities. Students are hoping many practitioners respond.

“This is their opportunity to potentially help change the level of performance they can expect from a new hire in their practice,” said senior veterinary student Hillary Carroll. “We need that input.”

This is the first study of its type conducted in the U.S., Carroll said, but there have been similar studies done in the U.K and Australia. The immediate goal is to encourage as many private practice DVMs as possible to respond to the survey to ensure statistical validity.

“We’d really like to conclusively determine just what is expected of us on the first day we begin practice by the people who hire us,” she said.
 
Veterinarians will be contacted by mail with a link to the survey.

The study’s goals are to use the information to enhance surgical skills curricula at veterinary schools, produce a respected, peer-reviewed study to be published in the veterinary literature and ensure that the quality of training in veterinary medicine will meet or exceed the expectations of private practitioners.

“Until we do know, we are kind of going into the profession somewhat blind,” Carroll said. “We are expected to perform, but at what level?”

For almost two years, the WSU students have conducted nationwide, faculty-mentored, scientific surveys of more than 1,000 veterinary students and 250 veterinary faculty members about the skills needed for graduates to be successful in their first jobs. Their new target is 2,000 private practitioners, including 500 new veterinary graduates.

Funded by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and WSU Educational Challenge Grant, the survey will help determine expectations of new graduates so veterinary schools can produce grads who meet those expectations.

Unlike physicians, graduate veterinarians can legally perform any medical procedure with any species on Day 1 after passing the national board examination and securing licensure. This means that colleges of veterinary medicine are responsible for ensuring that graduating veterinarians have all of the skills needed to be successful in their first job.

Most new veterinarians will proceed cautiously and will have some degree of mentoring from their employers. Over time they will fall into a routine and determine a niche where they are most capable and most comfortable.

Nonetheless, employers inevitably have certain expectations of competence from a new hire. 

The other class of 2014 students in the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine who are conducting the surveys are Tomasina Lucia, Chelsea Farnsworth, Eryn Zeugschmidt and Mike Hinckley.