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Hi my name is Melissa and I am a 9th grader, I am interested in becoming a Veterinarian and I have a question ,What recommendations do you have for a student at my stage of veterinary career preparation? Any tips for me?

#veterinarian #veterinarian #career #job #student

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Maggie’s Answer

Melissa if I were you I would look for opportunities to volunteer at your local animal shelters or animal hospitals. You could also google animal or pet business in your area to contact them to see if they would allow you to gain some experience working with pets and animals. You may even want to consider starting you a small dog walking or babysitting business to get more hands on experiences if the opportunities are limited in your area.
Thank you comment icon Thank you Maggie for your feedback . Melissa
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Daniel’s Answer

Melissa,

My daughter and her friend from High School both became veterinarians, and it is a very long path. It is good that you are thinking about it at the beginning of High School. The veterinary field is very competitive, more so even than medical school, so you need to be working toward your goal early in your high school career. As was suggested in a previous answer, working with animals however you can is a good start, not for credit to get into Vet school, but to make sure you really want to be a vet. A veterinarian is a very difficult job, requires 8 years of school, none of which will be paid by anyone but you and your parents. There are virtually no scholarships for Veterinarian school, which will cost at least $250,000. That is AFTER a four year college degree in Pre-Veterinary, Animal Sciences (best undergraduate degree), or Biology. You really need to be certain about your career path. Over 50% of working veterinarians regret their career choice, and the burnout rate, those abandoning their careers before retirement, is very high. The pay for the first few years is not great considering your debt, and nowhere near what a people doctor receives. Animals, especially the big ones, can kill or maim their doctor. Even the small ones can do significant damage with teeth and claws. Getting into Veterinary school is extremely hard, typically requiring a grade point average above 3.90. Also you will be competing with students who grew up on farms, are the children of Veterinarians, or have parents working in animal research. The best thing you can do in High School is to take all of the AP courses available in Biology, Chemistry, and if your school offers it, Agriculture. My daughter was blessed with a country school that offered eight agriculture elective classes. Also she participated in 4H and FFA (Future Farmers of America) from middle school through high school. She also volunteered at a local farm museum for all of her High School years, and was able to shadow local veterinarians on Career Days. I would recommend you join FFA and 4H clubs to learn about working with animals. Even if your dream job is working with dogs and cats, and you can't imagine working with livestock animals, the experience working with animals is vital to being accepted into Veterinary School after college. With an animal science college degree, you can change your mind and go into animal research, where there are many grants and stipends for graduate school. You can also take an animal science degree directly into industry, where the pay is attractive and the hours are reasonable. In Veterinary School you will be expected to learn and demonstrate expert knowledge in both tests and hands-on labs, with domestic, livestock, exotic, and wildlife animals. About the only animals they ignore are fish, which is its own specialty. Most Veterinary businesses are mixed practices, working with domestic and exotic pet animals. Others, in farm country, will treat pets, but focus on the big traditional five livestock animals (Cow, Sheep, Pig, Horse, Goat). These days that group is expanded to Llama, Alpaca, Camel, Bison, and Emu. Some people also specialize in Avian specialties, including Chicken, Turkey, and other birds. In the end, most veterinarians wish they had decided to become Pediatricians, because just like animals, infants through toddlers usually cannot explain what is wrong with them, and have very different anatomies and conditions than adults. Veterinarian and Pediatrician have about them same amount of schooling, but the latter pays a lot more money, the hours are better, and your patients can't kill or maim you. All that said, my daughter loves her studies, her patients, and would not consider being anything but a Veterinarian (for now). She tells me if she had it to do over again, she would have pursued a two year Veterinary Assistant degree, then transferred into a four year university for an Animal Science baccalaureate. That would have given her more chances to adjust her career path and earn more money during the second half of her college time. Some day she may go into animal research or teaching, after she tires of practicing medicine, but that will require more schooling.

Daniel recommends the following next steps:

Learn about and possibly join 4H and FFA
Through your school, look into shadowing both pet and livestock animal veterinarians
Sign up for as many AP biology and chemistry courses as you can cram into high school. They will save your money and time in college.
Think about the schooling commitment required to be a veterinarian. Can you see yourself in school for eight years after high school?
Look at your grades. If you can't see yourself finishing high school with all A's and a lot of AP courses, plus a lot of practical experience with animals, you may want to look at becoming a Veterinary Assistant, where the requirements are a lot less rigorous, with a LOT less schooling, and a lot less expense.
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