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New study investigates possible gender disparities in surgical internships and residencies


Veterinary professionals at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine look into whether potential unbalanced opportunities

Delmaine Donson/peopleimages.com/stock.adobe.com

Delmaine Donson/peopleimages.com/stock.adobe.com

Daniel Lopez, DVM, an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), observed a peculiar pattern when he first started teaching. Lopez and colleagues noticed that when it came to residents, male small animal surgery residents came directly from a rotating internship while female residents appeared to have done more internships to get the exact same position.

The pattern sparked enough of an interest in Lopez and his colleagues to determine if it was a broader theme or not. This curiosity led professionals at CVM recently published a study in the journal Veterinary Surgery to discover whether or not gender plays a role in a veterinary professional’s ability to move directly from a rotating internship to residency.

“This project fits in like a puzzle piece to some of what I and other researchers have done previously, and it helps shape the picture of where future projects need to go,” said Samantha Morello, DVM, courtesy associate professor with CVM’s Center for Veterinary Business and Entrepreneurship (CVBE) and one of the papers authors.1

According to the release,1 Lopez, along with Mikayla Schroeder, DVM, created the study to take a closer look at the applicants submitted to small animal surgery residency programs, with consideration to social factors such as race and the number of internships completed, academic record, and number of publications. The researchers then had 100 American College of Veterinary Surgery (ACVS) small animal surgery residents or diplomates participating in a registered small animal surgical residency program (SASRP) complete an online survey.

Based on the results of the survey,2 men were a little less than 3 times more likely matched directly into a SASRP following a rotating internship than women, but women showed to have completed more total internships than men before matching to a SASRP. The study concluded that gender did not appear to play a part during the Veterinary Internship and Residency Matching Program (VIRMP) SASRP applicant selection process.

“Women got to the finish line as often as men, but it took them a bit longer to do so,” Morello explained.1 “This difference was driven by one specific factor — research productivity.”

This study is just one of multiple that have come out from CVM in regard to gender disparities within veterinary medicine. Another study conducted by Morello that was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association anonymously surveyed 710 faculty from 23 veterinary medical colleagues to learn more on collaborative research by gender within veterinary academia.3 The results found that while males and females participated in collaborations equally, men were more likely to engage with other men for research collaborations. Male and male collaborations were also found to be the most common compared to female and female collaborations and collaborations between men and women.3 These collaborations can potentially cause women in veterinary medicine to miss out on opportunities that can help advance their careers.

The findings of the gender disparities study have led investigations to err on the side of continuing to include gender on applications, but efforts should be made to educate potential applicants on the impact of research on residency selection. Researchers also want to encourage research engagement between female students and graduates.


  1. Gender disparities in veterinary internships, residencies stem from unbalanced opportunities. News release. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. August 31, 2023. Accessed September 19, 2023. https://www.vet.cornell.edu/news/20230831/gender-disparities-veterinary-internships-residencies-stem-unbalanced-opportunities
  2. Menard JV, Schroeder MM, Buote NJ, et al. Evaluating gender discrepancies in the time to successful match into a small animal surgery residency program [published online ahead of print, 2023 Jul 3]. Vet Surg. 2023;10.1111/vsu.13992. doi:10.1111/vsu.13992
  3. Morello SL, Nelson L, Fubini SL. Gender differences in research collaborations and academic advancement among veterinary medical college faculty. J Am Vet Med Assoc. Published online 2023:1-9. doi:10.2460/javma.23.02.0111
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