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Survey: Vet Students Face Increased Financial, Mental Pressures

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Veterinary students are experiencing more financial and mental health pressures, according to a survey conducted by the British Veterinary Assn. and its Association of Veterinary Students branch.

The survey, conducted every three years since 1996, was circulated to U.K. students during the 2007-08 academic year. In total, 1,833 (45 percent) of the students participated. About 79 percent were female. Also of note: 13 percent of the total number of students were from oversees, 49 percent of whom were from the U.S.

In regard to financial pressures, 67 percent of students feel unable to work to supplement their income, with extramural studies regularly cited as a major factor, according to the survey.

In addition, 35 percent of students indicated that their financial problems are either difficult or severe and 24 percent stated that their debts will have a large affect on their choice of job after graduation.

In respect to mental health and well being, the survey found higher incidences of mental health problems among veterinary medicine students than in society at large. For instance, 29 percent of students said they either suffer from or had suffered from anxiety and 22 percent from depression. According to figures cited by the survey, about 9 percent of the general population suffers from mixed anxiety and depression.

The survey also revealed that 55 percent of the students either had or do suffer from stress and 7 percent had an eating disorder.

The associations did point out a positive note. There has been a marked increase in the percentage of respondents who were aware of the prevalence of mental health and well-being issues when they entered veterinary school, up from 33 percent among fifth-year students to 72 percent among first-year students.

The BVA, through its student branch and the Young Vet Network, represents young veterinary students and practitioners and provides support meetings for recently graduated vets. The Young Vet Network is an initiative that aims to ease the transition to professional life.

Click here to view the 2008 survey.

Veterinary Practice News ran a similar story in April about how young veterinarians experience a significantly higher level of psychological distress, work-related anxiety and depression. Click here to read the story.

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