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What advice do you have for someone wanting to be a veterinarian.?

Hello, I have always wanted to be a veterinarian but now as I'm headed for university I have a lot of doubts and questions. How hard is it to get into veterinary school? What was the most challenging part and what tips would you give to someone going into their undergrad?

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Eylla’s Answer

It's truly inspiring to see a growing interest in pursuing a veterinary career among students. While I may not be privy to your individual backgrounds or motivations, I'll do my best to provide useful insights. If there's anything I miss or any further queries you might have, don't hesitate to ask!

GENERAL

First and foremost, if you're considering a veterinary career, embrace it fearlessly! This is a dynamic and ever-evolving profession. Despite the challenges it may present, it promises a stimulating work environment where you can constantly learn, grow, and make a positive impact on the welfare of animals, humans, and biomedical knowledge.

HEALTH AND WELLBEING

Despite the glamorous image often portrayed on TV and social media, veterinary work is not all glitz and glamour, nor is it particularly high-paying compared to human medicine. It's a demanding field, both physically and emotionally. You need to be resilient and perform well under pressure. Taking care of yourself is crucial – eat healthily, get sufficient sleep, and ensure you have quality downtime. This holds true throughout vet school and beyond.

ACADEMIC STUFF

Remember, veterinary medicine is a science-based field. The course will provide a solid foundation in basic biomedical sciences – a necessary stepping stone to clinical knowledge. While the course is intense, you don't need to be a 'genius'. Essential A-level subjects include Chemistry, Biology, and either Math or Physics.

WORK EXPERIENCE

Variety is key. At vet school, you'll be trained to work with any species from day one. Don't limit yourself to one practice or sector. Show that you've explored the diverse roles vets play in society. Consider gaining experience in practices, farms, stables, laboratories, zoos, kennels, rescue centers, rehabilitation centers, the army, and charities.

APPLICATIONS

Standing out among a sea of excellent applicants can be challenging. Your personal statement is crucial – make sure it reflects your accomplishments, work experience, and passion for veterinary medicine. Show them your unique individuality and your potential contributions to the profession.

INTERVIEWS

Each interview will be different, but all will ask why you want a place and why at their school – so be prepared. They may also ask about topical issues and test your basic science knowledge.

CHOOSING A SCHOOL

If you've been offered more than one place, congratulations! The final decision is yours, but do visit each school before making your choice.

IF YOU DON'T GET IN

Don't worry if you don't get offers the first time around. Many excellent candidates don't. If this happens, try to get feedback on your application and continue building your work experience portfolio.

CAREER OPTIONS

A degree in Veterinary Science/Medicine opens up a world of opportunities beyond general practice. You could focus on mixed, farm animal, equine or small animal general practice, or specialize in a particular field. You might even consider a career in biomedical or veterinary clinical research, public health, public policy, media, the army, the pharmaceutical industry, professional standards, or food production and certification. The possibilities are endless.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for taking the time to help. Susan
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Sarah’s Answer

Securing a spot in veterinary school is indeed a challenging endeavor, but your passion for veterinary medicine will be your guiding light throughout this journey! The initial step involves identifying the necessary courses for application, such as Biology, Chemistry, Math, Physics, and more. Given that every applicant must complete these classes, it's crucial to shine in these subjects to stand out from the crowd. Despite the mandatory courses, you have the liberty to choose any major that resonates with you. Another key aspect to concentrate on is gaining hands-on experience in the veterinary field. This not only fulfills a requirement for veterinary school applications but also provides you with an invaluable opportunity to confirm if this is the career path you truly want to tread. Remember, if your first application doesn't yield acceptance, it's not a roadblock as you can always try again the following year.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice. Susan
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Jordyn’s Answer

Hello Susan! I am excited to hear that you are interested in veterinary medicine! It is a growing and rewarding field, and there are so many ways that you can use a veterinary degree.

As you likely know, it is important to maintain a good GPA and take all classes required for admittance into your desired vet school. Most biology, animal science, or similar type majors will get you pretty close, but every vet school has different requirements. As you go through the first year of undergrad, start thinking about where you may apply and look up their application requirements. Most veterinary schools have an admissions counselor who can help you with this if you have questions, and your academic advisor at your current university can help you design your schedule so that you can meet all the necessary requirements. If you want an idea of where to keep your GPA, you can typically find the average GPA of previously admitted veterinary classes for your veterinary college of interest on their website. I used this as a goal to help keep my GPA competitive on applications.

Veterinary schools will also post minimum experience requirements. This is sometimes divided into animal experience (experience working with animals) and veterinary experience (experience working with or shadowing veterinarians). While these numbers reflect the minimum hours required to be considered for admission, in my experience, most admitted students have far more experience hours than this. Again, you may be able to find the average experience hours for previously admitted classes on the veterinary college's website and use this as a benchmark.

As you might imagine, having veterinary and animal experience is just as important as maintaining a good GPA. Many people have most of their veterinary experience in one area, for example small animal general practice, because they think they want to go into that area of veterinary medicine. This is good as it is important to get experience in your area of interest. However, veterinary schools like to see that you have diverse experiences as well. Consider getting experience with different animal types (small animals, equine, farm animals, or wildlife/exotic) and/or in different settings (general practice, emergency, zoo, research, etc.). If you go to a university with a veterinary college or with a strong animal science program, you can typically find plenty of opportunities through the school. For instance, I worked and volunteered in the veterinary college I later attended because I went to undergrad at the same university. This allowed me to volunteer in their community practice clinic, participate in their wildlife summer internship, work in their neurology department, and help with research in their pathology department during various stages of my career. You may also find experience opportunities through your university's Pre-Vet Club if you have one. This is a great way to learn about veterinary medicine and applying to vet school, as well as meet people with similar interests as you. Finally, many veterinary clinics will take pre-vet students either to shadow or to work as kennel staff (and work your way up -most of us small animal people started as kennel staff when we were first getting experience). But don't be afraid to think out of the box! Local zoos and aquariums often take volunteers. If you are interested in research, attend research seminars and consider reaching out to the these researchers or your professors to see if they need a student assistant. Consider working with a rescue, shelter, or humane society for more experience. Reach out to to state or local public health departments and see if they have a need for veterinary interested interns. There are so many ways to work in veterinary medicine, which is one of the wonderful things about it! Definitely pay attention to the lifestyle of people you work with to determine whether you would want that lifestyle.

As Eylla said, the majority of applicants do not get in on their first try. That's ok! Veterinary medicine is competitive, but once you apply, most veterinary schools have admission counselors who will review your previous application with you and recommend things to improve on for the next application cycle.

Finally, I do recommend making some goals for yourself to help you get everything done that you want to for your applications. But don't take it so seriously, that you forget to try out other things in college. College provides opportunity for exposure to so many other career paths. You may find, like me, that you have an interest in environmental design or physics and it may change your plans, or not. Regardless, try some things. Keep an open mind. Now is the time to explore a bit.

Jordyn recommends the following next steps:

https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/careers/veterinary-school-admission-101
https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/careers/veterinary-careers
There are more veterinary schools now than this handout says, but it provides a good overview of career paths in vet med. https://animalcareers.cornell.edu/careers/VetCareers.pdf
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Susan
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Maneet’s Answer

As you gear up for your adventure into veterinary science, begin by zeroing in on your high school subjects, giving special attention to areas such as biology and chemistry to establish a robust base. Participate in after-school activities connected to animals and veterinary medicine to acquire first-hand experience and show your dedication to the profession. Explore colleges known for their excellent veterinary programs, taking into account aspects like geographical location, facilities, and chances for hands-on learning. Stay updated on the entry requirements for veterinary schools, and think about gaining experience as a veterinary technician during your undergraduate studies to deepen your involvement in the field. Reach out to mentors and industry professionals for advice to guide your journey and make well-informed choices about your future. With commitment and persistence, you're on the right track to fulfill your dream of becoming a vet. Best wishes, Maneet.
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