Development of a bovine continuing education program for early-career veterinarians to address clinical service shortage

Angel Abuelo, Sabine Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


There is currently a shortage of production animal veterinarians worldwide. Access to adequate continuing education (CE) increases retention of health-care workers in rural areas. However, little information is available about the preferences of bovine veterinarians in their first years after graduation. Our objective was to design a readily available CE program tailored for recent veterinary graduates working in bovine medicine. For this, we conducted a cross-sectional survey to identify early-career bovine veterinarian needs and their preferences to access CE conducted while practicing full time. Subsequently, we conducted a second survey to triangulate their responses with the opinions of experienced veterinarians, where the experienced veterinarians ranked the relevance of the CE topics that resulted from the early-career veterinarian survey. We received a total of 132 valid responses from US veterinarians in their first 5 years after graduation, and 32 responses associated with bovine veterinarians with 10 or more years of experience. Our results showed that a combination of distance education and workshops to practice hands-on skills was the preferred method for accessing CE among early-career veterinarians. Furthermore, recent graduates were willing to commit 1 to 2 h/wk to distance education. From the list of 20 topics identified by early-career veterinarians, the experienced veterinarians ranked “calf/heifer management” and “immunology and vaccinology” as the most relevant ones for practice. With the information gathered from these surveys, we designed, implemented, and piloted a 180-h CE program on bovine health management that is delivered over 2 yr through asynchronous distance education and annual hands-on workshops. Participant feedback has been very positive. Overall, the survey results will serve to develop CE programs targeted to bovine veterinarians in their first years of practice. Future research is needed to evaluate this program's success in retaining the bovine veterinary workforce within the United States, particularly in rural underserved areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3043-3050
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number4
Early online dateFeb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


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