AAEP Commission on Veterinary Sustainability: Student Subcommittee Update
Young veterinary student with black horse. The AAEP Commission Student Subcommittee surveyed vet students recently.
According to an AAEP survey of veterinary students, mentorship and case exposure are the highest ranking factors students want in their first job. | Getty Images

The student subcommittee of the AAEP Commission for the Sustainability of Equine Veterinarians met in person for two days in June in Denver, Colorado. There, we had several Student Chapter AAEP student presidents attend our meeting for the first day and they offered great insight and support for AAEP’s efforts!

AAEP Student Survey

Prior to the meeting, we sent out a student survey and received approximately 140 responses. We learned that 48% of the students had decided that they would like to be an equine veterinarian in high school or earlier. Thirty percent of the students decided on equine veterinary medicine in undergraduate college. The three most common reasons for wanting to be an equine practitioner were working with horses, helping owners and horses, and being outside. Their biggest concern or potential doubts about becoming an equine veterinarian were salary, hours, emergency coverage and lifestyle in order of importance. The students ranked mentorship and case exposure/experience as the number one and two qualities they want in their first job. Salary, benefits and location were a distant third.

Connecting Students with Practitioners

Our initial focus for the students has been to connect private practitioners with current students to share their positive experiences in equine practice and educate them about a career in equine veterinary medicine. We spent a significant amount of time developing a speaker’s bureau of equine practitioners to speak to the SCAAEP and possibly undergraduate pre-vet and equine programs. We have a positive PowerPoint directed at student questions regarding equine practice for the speakers to take with them to address the survey results.  

Increasing Skills Training Opportunities

We are also striving to increase the clinical skills training offered at each AAEP student chapter across the nation. We are exploring hosting regional clinical skills boot camps on several topics detailed in our student survey. These include but are not limited to radiology, ultrasound, lameness, colic workups, theriogenology, as well as lifestyle and financial planning.

We are also working with the internship subcommittee to provide guidance for students as they seek externships and transition from student to young equine veterinarian.

AAEP Student Subcommittee Challenges

The biggest challenges of our subcommittee are communication with the students and the faculty advisor role. As SCAAEP officers leave and advisors change, we seem to lose contact with the chapter. Shelby Mosley at AAEP has worked hard to get chapter contacts. We are exploring easier methods to keep in continual contact with students and faculty advisors.  We revised the faculty advisor guidelines for the chapters and wish to add a private practitioner to the advisor list to help with the time commitment for advisors. 

Lastly, we contributed ideas to advocate for equine veterinary students in a letter drafted by AAEP President Dr. Rob Franklin. The goal is to follow up on those letters and to reach out to learn how we can promote equine practice in veterinary school and among the admissions committees. 

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