Background: While little is known about the motivations underpinning veterinary work, previous literature has suggested that the main influences on veterinary career choice are early/formative exposure to animals or veterinary role models. The aim of this study was to develop and provisionally validate a veterinary career motivations questionnaire to assess the strength of various types of career motivations in graduating and experienced veterinarians.

Methods: A cross-sectional sample of experienced veterinarians (n=305) and a smaller cohort of newly graduated veterinarians (n=53) were surveyed online using a long-form questionnaire. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was used to iteratively derive a final, short-form questionnaire for survey of a second cross-sectional sample of experienced veterinarians (n=751).

Results: EFA derived a final questionnaire with 22 items loading onto six factors (social purpose, animal orientation, vocational identity, challenge and learning, career affordances, and people orientation). While motivations based on animal orientation were predictably strong, those based on vocational identity were not universal and were weaker in younger and graduate veterinarians; both of these motivations were rated lower by male veterinarians. Motivations based on challenge and learning emerged as some of the strongest, most universal and most influential; people orientation and social purpose were also important, particularly for older veterinarians.

Conclusion: The major motivations for pursuing a veterinary career may best be represented as an intrinsic passion for animal care and for learning through solving varied challenges. These motivations are largely intrinsically oriented and autonomously regulated, thus likely to be supportive of work satisfaction and wellbeing.


veterinary, veterinarian, career choice, motivation, questionnaire

Link to Publisher Version (URL)


Find in your library

Included in

Education Commons