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What are some differences between applying to medical school and applying to vet school?

I am just entering college but I am already considered a sophomore because I dual-enrolled in high school . I need around 500 hours of experience shadowing a vet and I only have two years in which to complete these hours. I am wondering if the process of applying to medical school is as strenuous. #veterinarian #medicine #doctor #healthcare #hospital-and-healthcare #med-school #testing #animals


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Tania’s Answer

The processes for applying to veterinary medical school and human medical school are both rigorous.

1) For both you must complete prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry and physics... just to name a few. When I was completing my pre-vet classes, many of my fellow classmates were pre-med. Each individual school will have their own prereqs, so you must do research on the school(s) you are most interested in.

2) Both require experience. Vet schools have a MINIMUM requirement of 500 hours, but a competitive candidate will have more, or they will have research experience. Med schools may or may not have a minimum requirement but the admissions committee DEFINITELY want to see a commitment to volunteering at clinics or (again) doing research.

3) The purpose of getting experience (volunteer, work or research), is primarily so you know that this is the field you truly want to be in. The idea you have in your head of what it is like to be a veterinarian or a physician may be vastly different from what it actually is like to practice in those respective fields. But if you have some hands-on experience, then you have a better chance of learning what you like and don't like about that type of work. ADDITIONALLY, this is your opportunity to make connections and find mentors in the field. People that can advise you and support you along the way. Both vet school and med school require that you have letters of recommendation. The better you letter writers know you and what your goals are the stronger the letter they write for you.

500 hours is really not that much. That's about 63 eight-hour days. If you volunteer every Saturday for over a year you can do it. Or if you work or volunteer 5 days a week during the summer, it will take you about 3 months. Better yet find a professor who is doing research on topics/subjects you're interested in and work/volunteer as a research assistant. This can sometimes give you course credit and hours of experience.

Most importantly, try and figure out whether you like veterinary medicine or human medicine. They have their similarities, but they are quite different fields.

Tania recommends the following next steps:

Explore the differences between veterinary medicine and human medicine. Talk to veterinarians in your community. Talk to physicians in your community.
Start volunteering. The best way to learn about any field is to get hands on experience.
Find out the prereqs for the schools you are interested in: https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/applying-medical-school-process/medical-school-admission-requirements/admission-requirements OR https://www.aavmc.org/assets/site_18/files/vmcas/prereqchart.pdf
other useful sites: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-medical-schools/articles/how-to-make-sure-you-fulfill-medical-school-requirements-for-admission AND https://www.avma.org/public/Careers/Pages/vet-school-admission-101.aspx

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Richard’s Answer

There is no set number of volunteer, research, and clinical shadowing hours to apply to medical school. However nowadays applicants are spending much more than 500 hours total between the 3 activities.

You will need to get good grades in college in order to apply for medical school. At the medical school I attended, the average GPA is reported to be 3.85, so even one or two B's can hurt your chances of acceptance.

Any major is acceptable as long as you complete the prerequisite courses.

Typical medical school prerequisites include:
Biology: Lecture – 4 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
General Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Organic Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Biochemistry: Lecture – 1 semester
General Physics: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Math: Statistics – 1 semester
English: Rhetoric (Composition) and Literature – 2 semesters

Try to find opportunities to pursue research.

Volunteer at your local hospital or low-income clinic. Ask physicians, PAs or other clinical providers if you can shadow them.


During college study for and complete the MCAT. Devote an entire summer to studying for the MCAT and consider paying for a prep course if you can afford it.

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Apply to medical schools during your last year of college.

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