A qualitative study of why students choose to study veterinary nursing.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


Veterinary Nursing is a popular subject amongst undergraduate students, but due to the high attrition rates from the profession there is a shortage of Registered Veterinary Nurses in clinical practice. By identifying the factors that motivated student veterinary nurses to enrol on their degree and persist to their final year of study, it may be possible to enhance the support available for students when they are deciding whether to study veterinary nursing.
Online semi-structured interviews were used with ten student participants from the final year of a BSc (hons) Veterinary Nursing programme. The data were analysed using a six-step method of thematic analysis. The Situated Expectancy-Value Theory, a theory of motivation, 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 programme, but that, partly due to the representation of the veterinary nursing profession in marketing materials, when students enrol on a training programme they do not seem to have a thorough understanding of the veterinary nurse 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 veterinary nurse role.
Veterinary nursing marketing materials need to be improved to ensure they provide prospective student veterinary nurses 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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Veterinary Medical Education
Early online date31 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Aug 2023


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