DOI: 10.3138/jvme-2023-0027 ISSN:

A Qualitative Study of Why Students Choose to Study Veterinary Nursing

Suzannah Harniman
  • General Veterinary
  • Education
  • General Medicine

Veterinary nursing (VN) is a popular subject amongst undergraduate students, but due to the high attrition rates from the profession there is a shortage of registered VNs. By identifying the factors that motivated student VNs to enroll on their degree and persist to the final, it may be possible to enhance the support available for students when they are deciding whether to study VN.

Online semi-structured interviews were used with 10 student participants from the final year of a BSc (hons) VN program. The data were analyzed using a six-step method of thematic analysis. The Situated Expectancy-Value Theory was used as a framework to interpret the results and allowed for an in-depth understanding of the participant's values and beliefs to be obtained.

The results highlighted that a high intrinsic value for animals is a common reason for enrolling on the program, but that, partly due to the representation of the VN profession in marketing materials, at enrollment students do not seem to have a thorough understanding of the VN job role. As students’ progress through their training journeys, they develop a sense of professional identity that motivates them to continue, but they also gain an insight into the challenging reality of the VN role.

VN marketing materials need to be improved to ensure they provide prospective student VNs with an accurate insight into the realities of the VN job role. They will then be in a position to make an informed choice to join the VN profession.

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