Background: Shyness is defined as “the tendency to feel awkward, worried or tense during social encounters, especially with unfamiliar people.” While shyness is not necessarily a social disorder, extreme cases of shyness may classify as a social phobia and require medical treatment. Extant research has noted shyness may be correlated with social problems that could be detrimental to one’s health, career, and social relationships. This exploratory study examined the prevalence, source, and nature of shyness among incoming Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program students at one veterinary medical school. Methods: One hundred first-year DVM program students were administered a modified version of the Survey on Shyness. Results: Results indicate most students (85%) self-identified as at least a little shy, a figure that is believed to be significantly higher than national population norms in the United States. Students attributed the primary source of shyness to personal fears and insecurities. Students reported frequent feelings of shyness and generally perceived shyness as an undesirable quality. Students reported that strangers, acquaintances, authority figures, and classmates often make them feel shy. Conclusions: Given the high prevalence of self-reported shyness among veterinary medical students, institutions may wish to include strategies to address shyness as part of a comprehensive wellness program.
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