"Practice management, covering these and related issues to prepare (students) for the real world, was an elective before.
But we felt we needed to do more in this area, as do other schools," Neer explains.
Communication and life skills also are part of Iowa State University's (ISU) core curriculum, namely for the veterinary program's
second-year students, says Dr. Kim Langholz, DVM, MA, clinician in community practice at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
During students' fourth year, an interview with a client is videotaped and evaluated to help students transition to the workforce.
"It's easier to recognize areas where you might need to improve when you can see yourself on tape," Langholz says.
When it comes to first-year job turnover, Langholz isn't convinced culture shock is solely to blame: "Other factors, including
financial and geographical issues, may come into play," she says.
Hefty student-loan debt that's magnified by a regionally depressed job market can push recent graduates to accept jobs they
otherwise might not consider.
"Later, that student may find that the job is a mismatch, which typically happens in the first or second year," Langholz says.
"And that's true, not only in our profession but others as well, such as first-year school teachers."
At OSU, Neer has developed another tool to aid graduating students. He arranges periodic employment forums, inviting potential
employers to campus to conduct interviews. His most recent forum drew 27 employers and a large student turnout.
"Students have so many more opportunities to choose from today than ever," Neer says.
If they're well prepared, culture shock can be minimized, he adds.
"The best thing, what most of them want, is good mentorship — to hook up with a good mentor. That's key. That goes a long
way toward overcoming that natural apprehension, that fear that naturally comes with a student's first job."