Veterinary medical school challenges students academically and personally, and some students report depression and anxiety at rates higher than the general population and other medical students. This study describes changes in veterinary medical student self-esteem (SE) over four years of professional education, attending to differences between high and low SE students and the characteristics specific to low SE veterinary medical students.
The study population was students enrolled at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine from 2006 to 2012. We used data from the annual anonymous survey administered college-wide that is used to monitor the curriculum and learning environment. The survey asked respondents to rate their knowledge and skill development, learning environment, perceptions of stress, skill development, and SE. Participants also provided information on their academic performance and demographics. A contrasting groups design was used: high and low SE students were compared using logistic regression to identify factors associated with low SE. A total of 1,653 respondents met inclusion criteria: 789 low SE and 864 high SE students. The proportion of high and low SE students varied over time, with the greatest proportion of low SE students during the second-year of the program. Perceived stress was associated with low SE, whereas perceived supportive learning environment and skill development were associated with high SE.
These data have provided impetus for curricular and learning environment changes to enhance student support. They also provide guidance for additional research to better understand various student academic trajectories and their implications for success.
- Learning environment
- Perceived stress
- Skill development
- Survey research