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What is my best option to become a veterinarian?

To give a little context, I’m a 30 year old female from India. The last time I studied biology was in high school (12th grade). I did my undergraduate degree in engineering.

During my senior year in engineering, I went through a traumatic experience. My local municipality had hired men to go around and kill all stray dogs, and many of our beloved dogs (all rescues) were killed in this operation. Deeply saddened and frustrated, I fought for justice and got the mayor suspended.

During this justice seeking period, I got myself involved with various animal welfare organizations and started helping them out with rescues. I felt I was doing what I loved, helping animals and fighting for their rights.

After graduation I set up a small shelter in my small town, which was first in our house, then an old burned down shed, and then slowly grew to a decent size shelter housing over 100 rescued animals. I have since setup 2 veterinary clinics, hired doctors and significantly increased (~2000) the number of animals we rescued and rehabilitated over almost a decade.

Veterinarians are a rare breed in India. And finding a decent veterinarian is harder than winning a jackpot. Most of the times, I end up reading medical textbooks, journals, videos and try to provide diagnostics myself. I have also assisted in various surgeries, and have handled several types of animals ranging from dogs, cats, birds, snakes, cows, monkeys, and more.

Before you judge me for providing medical services to animals without a degree, if i didn’t do it, they would have died. I have single handedly saved hundreds of animals from the brink of death. If anybody is to be blamed, it is the subpar vet schools here, and the absolutely unskilled veterinarians that they produce. I have hired and fired over 5 doctors because some of them were so bad at their job that they couldn’t even perform a simple spay/neuter.

I have now decided to take matters in my own hand and become a veterinarian. To pursue this goal, I need help. I have the fire in me to do whatever it takes, but I just need some direction.

1. I know I don’t satisfy many prerequisites for vet school. Is going to a 3/4 year pre-vet school the only solution to this? Can I take the prerequisite courses from a community college in the US and then get into vet school?
2. Let’s assume that I do a pre vet program and pass with flying colors. What are my chances of getting into a vet school? I’m hoping that my extensive background in animal care will provide some boost to my chances?
3. Do you suggest any other path to achieve my goal of becoming a veterinarian quicker? With my estimates it will probably take me 7-8 years to become a vet. I’ll be 38 when that happens, and im fine with that. But I also want to know if there is a faster or better way to do this.
4. Any alumni from AVMA accredited vet schools that can provide some pointers in maximizing my chances with admission, scholarship?

I truly appreciate any help. You will not only be helping me, but also thousands of animals that I will save in the future.

Thanks!

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John’s Answer

Hello Nikitha, to become a veterinarian, you will typically need to complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program from an accredited veterinary school. Some schools may require you to complete certain prerequisite courses before being admitted to the DVM program. You can consider taking these courses at a community college, but you will need to check with individual schools to see if they accept credits from community colleges. Admissions to veterinary schools are competitive, and selection is based on several factors including academic achievements, work and volunteer experience, and personal qualities. Your extensive background in animal care and the hands-on experience you have gained through your shelter and veterinary clinics could be viewed favorably by veterinary schools and could help boost your chances of being admitted. Pursuing a pre-veterinary program at a university may be the most direct path to becoming a veterinarian, but you should also consider exploring alternative paths such as online or distance learning options or participating in veterinary externships or shadowing programs. These opportunities can provide valuable exposure to the veterinary profession and increase your chances of being accepted into a veterinary program.

You can try reaching out to alumni from AVMA-accredited veterinary schools and professional organizations, such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), for advice on maximizing your chances of admission and securing scholarships. Networking and building relationships with professionals in the field can also help find out about potential opportunities and resources.
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Sarah’s Answer

You definitely have a unique background and experience with animals! Both of which will add to your applications to vet schools in the US. As you would need to complete certain prerequisite classes prior to admittance to vet school, I would reach out to a few schools to get an idea how best this would be done and what classes would be accepted. My guess is that you could certainly take these classes through a community college. There won't be a means to get through a veterinary education any quicker other than how "quick" you can take the required classes! I would recommend getting some exposure to veterinary medicine in the US as well so that you would have that experience prior to applying in addition to what you've done on your own. As for scholarships, that can be a challenge! Your best chance for a (slightly) lower cost is to become a resident in a state with a vet school so that you might be able to get in-state tuition - all states vary however in how long it will take to be considered a "resident". Oh and as a side note.....even spays and neuters are major surgeries and should not be considered "simple" - there can always be complications and unforeseen circumstances!
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