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Accepted both DVM and MD

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limeindacoconut

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Hi All,

So, I'm in this weird situation where I was accepted to both an MD and a DVM program. I've been having a whopper of a hard time deciding which path to pursue, so I figured that I would come to the experts for advice!

Long story short - I am definitely more interested/passionate about veterinary medicine compared to human medicine (I've spent over five years working in vet clinics of various types, so I am familiar with the pros/cons of the job), but I am concerned about the veterinary job market and career stability in this field. I'm also interested in pursuing a veterinary residency if I go this route, but it seems like the locations/options for residencies are somewhat limiting.

As people who are in the field, what are your opinions on the job market and profession as a whole right now? For what it's worth, I (incredibly fortunately) would be able to come out of either program debt/free, so that whole can of worms doesn't factor into my overall decision.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Any/all advice is appreciated.

Thanks!
 
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Lab Vet

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Hi All,

So, I'm in this weird situation where I was accepted to both an MD and a DVM program. I've been having a whopper of a hard time deciding which path to pursue, so I figured that I would come to the experts for advice!

Long story short - I am definitely more interested/passionate about veterinary medicine compared to human medicine (I've spent over five years working in vet clinics of various types, so I am familiar with the pros/cons of the job), but I am concerned about the veterinary job market and career stability in this field. I'm also interested in pursuing a veterinary residency if I go this route, but it seems like the locations/options for residencies are somewhat limiting.

As people who are in the field, what are your opinions on the job market and profession as a whole right now? For what it's worth, I (incredibly fortunately) would be able to come out of either program debt/free, so that whole can of worms doesn't factor into my overall decision.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Any/all advice is appreciated.

Thanks!

The answer to your question re: "the market" depends on what you want to do. Right now, the market for small animal practice is booming- particularly as a GP, but also in specialty areas. Generally speaking, new graduates are not strapped to find work upon graduation (doesn't mean that each individual is getting his/her 'perfect' job, but there are many jobs out there; this wasn't the case 5-10 years ago). 'Career stability'- what do you mean? Are you concerned that you'll be let go from a job due to falling business, etc, or you won't be able to make your target salary? For the salary concern, only you can answer that question. Please see the previous thread re: salary expectations in vet med. Generally, veterinarians make a very modest living- particularly those who graduate with debt. If you want to 'bank it' in life, vet med is not the career for you.

As for residencies, again, it's up to you. Some specialties only offer a handful of residency programs; other offer more. Many specialties require completion of an internship before you'll even be considered for a residency slot. Residencies/internships exist at academic institutions, as well as private practices, throughout the United States. When the time comes, it will be up to you to decide what pursuit of that specialty is worth. Is it worth relocating several states away? Perhaps in an area you're not thrilled about? Perhaps in a setting that wasn't your first choice? This road will most certainly require financial sacrifice in the training phase. This is true of human medicine as well. It's a bit too early for you to be worrying about residency placement when you haven't yet entered veterinary (or medical) school. You don't know how you'll fare in the curriculum, or how competitive you'll be for limited slots. Also, your interests may change drastically as you progress through either path of clinical education.

Veterinary medicine (generally speaking) is a poor financial decision. I'm glad that I made the choice I did to attend, but I've also sacrificed significantly (we all have, for the most part). My life looks nothing like that of my non-vet friends (have a wide margin of disposable income, take extended trips abroad, buying nice homes/vehicles), and never will. This isn't a judgement- just a call that you be very honest with what you want from your adult life. If you'll be unhappy NOT having the flexibility to spend your income in this manner, I don't recommend vet med as a career. Yes, there are the exceptions (the OP in the previous post appears to have shadowed one of these individuals). I argue that this is not the norm- by any stretch of the imagination. It's true that you'll have more financial freedom without the millstone of educational debt tied round your neck, but you're still not going to be rolling in cash. If none of that matters to you, and you're content with a modest living, by all means, go for vet school.
 
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limeindacoconut

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Thank you for the thoughtful response, Lab Vet!

To clarify: when I mentioned "career stability," I meant it in terms of career satisfaction and overall happiness of career choice. From what I've been reading around the forums, there seem to be a lot of people who regret going into vet med for one reason or another. It seems that a large amount of this is due to the crazy financial stresses of high debt and (relatively) low income, but dealing with confrontational owners and enormous emotional pressures also seems to play a large role. Of course, this may be amplified in GP work, but I would imagine that these problems are also quite present in specialty positions.

On a related-ish point, you're absolutely right about it being early for me to worry about a possible residency. The only reason I mentioned that as one of the factors that I'm considering is that my husband will be graduating from MD/PhD roughly the same time I finish whatever program I go to, so the issue of where he (or I) match is something to think about. Of course, as you said, my interest could change drastically during school, so a possible vet residency may not factor into the equation at all. There are so many unknowns!
 

Caia

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Honestly, if you can see yourself being happy in human medicine, I would go that route. All things being equal ( you like both, no debt, accepted to both programs), I'd pick the one with the most financially secure future. Just my opinion.
 
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MyTime2Fly!

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I just left my second year of human medical school. I regretted not going to vet school. I found myself uninterested and bored in clinics. Every time I took my dog or duck to the vet I would pick their brain about vet medicine. I loved it. I envied my avian and equine vet. I made the decision to go into human medicine for the money. that was the ultimate decision breaker for me. That being said, although quality of life is a huge deal. I somehow made the assumption my quality of life would be better with a higher income. I no longer believe this. I am not worried about income. My local vets don't seem to be suffering financially either. I took out a coin and decided, heads stay in human medicine and tails... leave and go to vet school. I flipped heads up... I felt my heart sink and I was genuinely disappointed. For me that was a nice confirmation of my hearts desire. I have spent countless hours in trauma centers, hospitals and clinics. It was just flat for me. I found myself always leaning and thinking about veterinary medicine. Look at where you find yourself... your thoughts and truly your interests. You have worked in a vet clinic for years...why did you choose to work in a vet clinic and not a hospital or clinic for years? just a thought. sometimes we already know the answer to our question, but we overpower it or ignore it trying to make the "right" decision. I stopped making pros and cons lists and stressing. I got quiet and analyzed where I always lean. I always lean in my heart towards veterinary medicine. and I do not want to live with regrets so I left human medicine. I always had a twinge of regret that just grew as I studied human medicine. And i was an excellent student. I didn't leave because it was too hard or too stressful. Ask yourself. where will you feel regret? where does the twinge happen when you lean a direction? Listen quietly you will know. Best of luck to you!
 
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Doxorubicin

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I'm a little late to the party, but I thought I would offer my perspective. I'm in my third year of (human) medical school.

On and off for years through high school and college, I tortured myself over whether I wanted to go to med school or vet school. Ultimately, without outside financial support, my decision to attend human med school was partially based on gut feeling and partially based on some heavy number crunching. Now that I'm halfway done with medical school, I'm very happy with my choice, but I sometimes think about how cool it would be to be able to treat all species but one! But learning how to diagnose and treat human disease is overwhelming enough, and ultimately, I think I would've always wondered "What if I'd gone to med school?" if I'd chosen anything else. I've learned a lot of stuff -- some of it has even come in handy in real life, too, and I can't wait to learn more.

As I will need to decide on a specialty sometime in the next year, I sometimes think about how nice it would be to be able to work right out of vet school without needing to become a specialist or complete a residency. On the flip side, there are a number of diseases/patient populations in human medicine I would be happy to not deal with -- forced specialization in human medicine can be helpful here. If you want to do-it-all from dentistry to dermatology, neurology to urology, and oncology to operating, veterinary medicine is your best bet. Don't get me twisted here, you learn about all of human disease in med school, and you can pick a specialty that allows you to be both in the clinic and the OR... but good luck getting the human neurologist to deliver your baby, you feel me?

If debt is no concern, I'd say go where your interests are. A number of people drop out of medical school every year because it's not what they want to do. The roads to MD and DVM are long, but with 3-7 years of residency beyond medical school + potential fellowships, becoming a board-certified physician is daunting even for those who have never wavered in their interest in human medicine.

My plug for medicine: I feel that there are few other educational pathways that force one to so fully engage with humanity. To that end, I've already found medicine rewarding. Witnessing life's most beautiful and tragic moments and caring for both the upper crust and the utterly destitute are transformative experiences. When you wear a white coat, patients share their lives with you. To be allowed in is, despite my weekly whining and poo-pooing of medical school, such a great privilege.

tl;dr: Was torn between DVM and MD, picked MD, have no regrets. Treating a bunch of species would be sweet, but I'm happy with where I am now. Follow your gut!
 
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WhtsThFrequency

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As I will need to decide on a specialty sometime in the next year, I sometimes think about how nice it would be to be able to work right out of vet school without needing to become a specialist or complete a residency. On the flip side, there are a number of diseases/patient populations in human medicine I would be happy to not deal with -- forced specialization in human medicine can be helpful here. If you want to do-it-all from dentistry to dermatology, neurology to urology, and oncology to operating, veterinary medicine is your best bet. Don't get me twisted here, you learn about all of human disease in med school, and you can pick a specialty that allows you to be both in the clinic and the OR... but good luck getting the human neurologist to deliver your baby, you feel me?


While I definitely agree with your post, I just wanted to point out that veterinarians can and do specialize via formal internships and residencies - derm, rads, surgery, internal med, anesthesia, neuro, therio, path, onco, optho, pharm, etc. So that is an option if you want to work in a narrower area of vet med.
 
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Doxorubicin

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While I definitely agree with your post, I just wanted to point out that veterinarians can and do specialize via formal internships and residencies - derm, rads, surgery, internal med, anesthesia, neuro, therio, path, onco, optho, pharm, etc. So that is an option if you want to work in a narrower area of vet med.


Certainly — sorry if I came across in my post as suggesting otherwise.

One of my big struggles in deciding veterinary vs. human medicine was the question of whether I wanted to be able to do it all; I found veterinary medicine alluring because it would’ve allowed me to.

My understanding, however, is that the match rates for any given veterinary specialty are generally much lower for match rates in human medicine.

For instance, in 2018, the veterinary specialty with the highest match rate was anesthesiology, in which 55% of applicants to anesthesia residencies matched. In 2018, the match rate for anesthesiology was 91%.
(Human) dermatology had the lowest match rate of any specialty this year — 62%. Veterinary dermatology’s match rate was 29.73%.

I am totally ignorant about the veterinary match, but it would seem that if you’re the kind of person who needs to be a boarded specialist to be fulfilled in your professional practice, human medicine offers a much safer chance of being able to do that in the specialty of your choosing.
 
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JosephKnechtDVM

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Certainly — sorry if I came across in my post as suggesting otherwise.

One of my big struggles in deciding veterinary vs. human medicine was the question of whether I wanted to be able to do it all; I found veterinary medicine alluring because it would’ve allowed me to.

My understanding, however, is that the match rates for any given veterinary specialty are generally much lower for match rates in human medicine.
Certainly — sorry if I came across in my post as suggesting otherwise.

One of my big struggles in deciding veterinary vs. human medicine was the question of whether I wanted to be able to do it all; I found veterinary medicine alluring because it would’ve allowed me to.

My understanding, however, is that the match rates for any given veterinary specialty are generally much lower for match rates in human medicine.

For instance, in 2018, the veterinary specialty with the highest match rate was anesthesiology, in which 55% of applicants to anesthesia residencies matched. In 2018, the match rate for anesthesiology was 91%.
(Human) dermatology had the lowest match rate of any specialty this year — 62%. Veterinary dermatology’s match rate was 29.73%.

I am totally ignorant about the veterinary match, but it would seem that if you’re the kind of person who needs to be a boarded specialist to be fulfilled in your professional practice, human medicine offers a much safer chance of being able to do that in the specialty of your choosing.

For instance, in 2018, the veterinary specialty with the highest match rate was anesthesiology, in which 55% of applicants to anesthesia residencies matched. In 2018, the match rate for anesthesiology was 91%.
(Human) dermatology had the lowest match rate of any specialty this year — 62%. Veterinary dermatology’s match rate was 29.73%.

I am totally ignorant about the veterinary match, but it would seem that if you’re the kind of person who needs to be a boarded specialist to be fulfilled in your professional practice, human medicine offers a much safer chance of being able to do that in the specialty of your choosing.

Veterinary medicine is kind of schizophrenic and backwards as regards to the need for specialization. There still is the romantic attachment to the past days of James Herriott and the mixed practice veterinarian doing everything that is needed on every species. Yet, there are now over twenty recognized specialty boards and over forty recognized specialties (including the ABVP specialties) and veterinary teaching hospitals operate more like a human general hospital and really follow the human model of body system specialists and discipline specialists etc. And since the PEW Report on veterinary education in 1988, it has been realized there is increasing depth of knowledge as well as amount but very little change to the 4 year curriculum model and ready for all aspects of practice in four years which is ludicrous because not even an MD is expected to be "clinically ready" for solo practice after 4 years. And MDs in the three areas of internal medicine (adults), pediatrics(kids) and family practice(all ages) are trained for 3 years after medical school to be the "primary" care provider. Family Practice is probably the most similar to veterinary medicine in the breadth of medicine, surgery, obstetrics they are trained in over three years, with some 4 year programs. And Family Practice as I researched on American Association of Family Practice Foundation website, was created in the early 1970s after primary care physicians capabilities and training had come under scrutiny as being inadequate for MDs who maybe had only a general internship in medicine and surgery after medical school.

The reality is that in veterinary medicine outside of the specialties, you are on your own to figure out how to practice well and confidently because there are not just enough "mentors" or good practices sometimes to help a graduate learn what really is important to know in order to function well day to day with the bread and butter of general practice on small animals or even other areas like food animal practice where husbandry and management of a "business" is often as important as knowing how to treat a herd or individual animal. In my opinion, it is more important to have depth of knowledge(and maintain that knowledge) about a few things rather than be mediocre by trying to do a little bit of everything and keeping current in multiple areas/species.
 

WhtsThFrequency

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Certainly — sorry if I came across in my post as suggesting otherwise.

One of my big struggles in deciding veterinary vs. human medicine was the question of whether I wanted to be able to do it all; I found veterinary medicine alluring because it would’ve allowed me to.

My understanding, however, is that the match rates for any given veterinary specialty are generally much lower for match rates in human medicine.

For instance, in 2018, the veterinary specialty with the highest match rate was anesthesiology, in which 55% of applicants to anesthesia residencies matched. In 2018, the match rate for anesthesiology was 91%.
(Human) dermatology had the lowest match rate of any specialty this year — 62%. Veterinary dermatology’s match rate was 29.73%.

I am totally ignorant about the veterinary match, but it would seem that if you’re the kind of person who needs to be a boarded specialist to be fulfilled in your professional practice, human medicine offers a much safer chance of being able to do that in the specialty of your choosing.

Oh yes, absolutely. 29% match is actually surprisingly high for vet derm - that is usually a very tough one. We have match rates in several specialties that are consistently below 10% - super competitive. 62% would be on the upper end overall for us! Of course, part of it is due to the fact that for us, residencies etc are elective and there are few places to do them other than at an academic institution.

So you're very right in that going into vet med with the intent of specializing and never wanting to do general practice is a risky move - because you may never get a residency. Now, I say this hypocritically, as I was that person . Luckily I was chosen for a pathology residency by a great place, so I was all right...but I know lots of other very qualified people who were not so lucky. If you know you want to be a specialist, human medicine is generally a better path....for me, though, I just couldn't give up the species variety and all the neat and unique things you see in some versus others, even in the context of a specialty!
 
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