Date of Award



© 2018 Sherry Bushong

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Brianna Parsons

Second Advisor

Michael Patrick

Third Advisor

L. Nicki Wise


Thousands of American veterinary students attend fully-accredited international veterinary institutions every year. There are currently 14 veterinary programs located internationally that are fully-accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association—the same association that accredits American veterinary programs. Although these veterinary students choose to attend these programs, little is known about their experience adapting to the new location and their stressors during their time as veterinary students. With the number of veterinarian suicides rising and the focus on veterinary student mental wellness increasing, gaining a deeper understanding of their experience as students is essential for the future of the profession. The purpose of this mixed method instrumental case study was to identify the nonacademic factors that contributed to psychological distress in veterinary students who have graduated from geographically isolated veterinary programs. Having already completed years of the program in an isolated location(s) and, in some cases, continuing their education and practice in various locations, these veterinarians experienced both academic and nonacademic stress throughout their veterinary academic career, which may have impacted their physiological well-being. While stress can have both positive and negative effects, it is important for graduates to reflect on their veterinary educational experiences and address their stress levels during the acculturation process. Applying the Acculturation Stress Theory to this study assisted in understanding the effect this experience had on veterinary students’ psychological state and overall well-being. The quantitative and qualitative survey used in this study, which was comprised of 75 veterinarians who graduated from international veterinary programs produced conflicting data. Overall, these participants scored low levels of acculturation stress in the quantitative data. However, qualitatively, the responses to the open-ended questions described incidences of discrimination and challenges due to geographic location and culture shock. Although these participants expressed high stress levels due to academic and nonacademic stress factors, each participant in this study was satisfied with the decision to pursue veterinary education in a geographically isolated location.


Ed.D. Dissertation