wildlifer

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Hi all, I apologize in advance for my novel of a post here. I just figured it would be easier to throw it all together and hope I can get some feed back!

Background, I originally went to UVM for Animal Science/ Pre-vet. However, about my junior year, fall semester, I had a bit of a breaking point where I felt there was no way I was going to make it into vet school. After some many stressful nights and sessions with my advisor, I decided to essentially "drop" the pre-vet concentration and just focus on completing my major while also taking classes I found interesting. I started to take wildlife biology classes the following semester and fell in right at home so to speak but wanted to just graduate and be done school for while. I graduated in 2009 with my first Bachelors in Animal Science.

The next three years I spent working a variety of jobs, from lab animal technician, to avian field technicians, community health care stint, and even a ski bum job (I was young, why not??). Anyway, I kept coming back to the wildlife-field type jobs as I really enjoyed that type of work but felt as though I was lacking in some education, as I only took a handful of wildlife classes my last couple semesters at UVM. With that being said, I decided that I really wanted to go back to school. Fall of 2012 I enrolled full time at Unity College in their Wildlife Biology program and graduated in 2014 with my second Bachelors in Wildlife Biology.

Upon graduation, I was very fortunate to be hired on as a Seasonal Common Loon Biologist through a local non profit that does a lot of wildlife research. Past two summers I have done this work and absolutely love it, but I am finding myself becoming drawn back to the idea of my very original plan from when I was 17 of attending vet school.

This is where all you folk come in and hope you can give my some insight/advice!

1.) Because I stopped focusing on the pre-vet track my junior year at UVM, I actually do not have all of the pre-reqs, specifically Physics I & II and Biochemistry. I took an evolution and population genetics course, but am not sure if that is sufficient enough for the genetics requirement? How many people take pre-reqs at a community college and were those credits accepted? I feel like this would be my cheapest way of completing them as there is a school about 15 minutes away from my house that offers those classes.

2.) Animal experience, what counts? I have had several hours from my different field jobs, lab animal tech, milker on a dairy farm, etc. However, I have not had any in an actual vet clinic. I am planning to (hopefully) volunteer down at this wildlife center/clinic this fall/winter to gain more experience but am wondering if I should try to volunteer in a small animal practice as well to help round out the experience?

3.) How hard is it for the older students to get in? I just turned 28 and probably wouldn't apply for at least a year- year and half, as I would need that time to complete pre-reqs, retake GRE, etc.

4.) How do you manage your financials once in school? Like most people I have the typical bills, student loans, car payments, car insurance, phone etc. From the vets and vet students I know, working while in school is unlikely, so are you just primarily living on your loans/financial aid??

I appreciate anyone who has taken the time to read this and any advice/feed back you may have to give! Thanks!!!
 

dyachei

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you're not that much older than many students in vet school. Our average age was like 26 or 27 first year. We had several much older students.

Everything that you mentioned counts as animal experience but vet experience is much more important. In fact, I would work on that first. make sure you want to be a vet before applying. You can be involved with wildlife without being a vet. So make sure you want to be a vet.

You live primarily off loans though you can get student liaison positions with the school or have very part time jobs to help with income. I dont recommend that until you know how you will do in school with just the class load.

Although some points are typically given for academic rigor, courses from cc's are fine for most things. Just make sure you are taking upper level courses where you need to (schools will list these on their websites).
 
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that redhead

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First, welcome to SDN :)

1.) Because I stopped focusing on the pre-vet track my junior year at UVM, I actually do not have all of the pre-reqs, specifically Physics I & II and Biochemistry. I took an evolution and population genetics course, but am not sure if that is sufficient enough for the genetics requirement? How many people take pre-reqs at a community college and were those credits accepted? I feel like this would be my cheapest way of completing them as there is a school about 15 minutes away from my house that offers those classes.
Always worth checking with schools you intend to apply to if a particular course fits the bill. As for CC, many people take their pre-reqs at a CC and are accepted.

2.) Animal experience, what counts? I have had several hours from my different field jobs, lab animal tech, milker on a dairy farm, etc. However, I have not had any in an actual vet clinic. I am planning to (hopefully) volunteer down at this wildlife center/clinic this fall/winter to gain more experience but am wondering if I should try to volunteer in a small animal practice as well to help round out the experience?
Animal experience is different than veterinary experience, and the latter is "worth" more on an application as it shows you understand the role of a veterinarian, the challenges that you may face, etc. It doesn't have to be in a traditional hospital setting. It sounds as though you have plenty of animal experience but really need to get that vet experience. Hopefully the wildlife clinic has a vet on staff you can work with directly to have it count, but certainly look into other ways of getting vet experience like a small animal practice, large animal practice, zoo, aquarium, etc.

3.) How hard is it for the older students to get in? I just turned 28 and probably wouldn't apply for at least a year- year and half, as I would need that time to complete pre-reqs, retake GRE, etc.
Age itself isn't a determining factor either way. Being more mature/out of school longer may give you more to talk about versus a traditional pre-vet student, though.

4.) How do you manage your financials once in school? Like most people I have the typical bills, student loans, car payments, car insurance, phone etc. From the vets and vet students I know, working while in school is unlikely, so are you just primarily living on your loans/financial aid??
Yes, you're living off loans unless your family/SO supports you. Make a budget and be conscious of where your money is going.
 
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wildlifer

wildlifer

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Thank you both for responding, it's much appreciated. To clarify a bit more on the animal vs veterinary experience, I have worked along side a veterinarian before. When I worked at the medical lab as a lab animal technician, there was a head veterinarian on staff who was essentially "in charge" of all of the operations there. And currently I am working alongside a veterinarian on a loon restoration project through a non-profit. Would these experiences count for both animal and veterinary experience?
 

dyachei

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Thank you both for responding, it's much appreciated. To clarify a bit more on the animal vs veterinary experience, I have worked along side a veterinarian before. When I worked at the medical lab as a lab animal technician, there was a head veterinarian on staff who was essentially "in charge" of all of the operations there. And currently I am working alongside a veterinarian on a loon restoration project through a non-profit. Would these experiences count for both animal and veterinary experience?
if your supervisor was a vet, it's probably vet experience.
 

LuckySpartan

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Hi!! You are not old!!! I just turned 30 and i'm applying this year :)
I think there is a lot to be said for being an "older" applicant. You have experienced a bit more of "life".

1.) It is important that you check with the schools you are applying to in regards to what will meet their pre-reqs. I took all my pre-reqs at a community college. I graduated with a BBA in Marking from a private business university in 2008 and then worked for an international company since. A community college was my best option, financially and also the class size was nice. With that being said, a few classes I needed they didn't have and I took at another university. Keep in close contact with your schools you wish to apply to. They will be the best resource along the way to make sure you are meeting their requirements.
2.) Animal experience is any experience you have working directly with animals. All animals. Get as much diverse experience as you can!
3.) The hardest part about being an "older" student is going from having a good job with a nice bank account to being a poor student again. The rest is a breeze! Being that you have professional working experience you will find yourself to be more mature/ focused than many other student in your class. (This isn't true for all people, just a generalization). Being a "older" applicant is DEFINITELY an advantage!
4.) All I can comment on is the financial situation while completing the pre-reqs. You have two options, either go to school part-time and work or go to school full time and be very frugal. I went back full time. It was hard at first and I had to take out student loans for the first time ever. Once you get through he first semester, everything falls into place.

I think it is great that you want to go back to school! Figure out a plan that works for you and it will be well worth it! If you have any more questions or would like to know more about my experience fell free to message me! Happy to support you in your journey

(sorry for any spelling/ grammar mistakes responded in a hurry)
 
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wildlifer

wildlifer

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You're far younger than I was when I started vet school. :) I'd still call you "young". :)

Our class age avg was something like what Dyachei's was. Around there, anyway.
Thanks for that :). Just sometimes feel old when I'm still contemplating school and career choices while everyone else around me is more settled and getting hitched and popping out babies.
 
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wildlifer

wildlifer

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Hi!! You are not old!!! I just turned 30 and i'm applying this year :)
I think there is a lot to be said for being an "older" applicant. You have experienced a bit more of "life".

1.) It is important that you check with the schools you are applying to in regards to what will meet their pre-reqs. I took all my pre-reqs at a community college. I graduated with a BBA in Marking from a private business university in 2008 and then worked for an international company since. A community college was my best option, financially and also the class size was nice. With that being said, a few classes I needed they didn't have and I took at another university. Keep in close contact with your schools you wish to apply to. They will be the best resource along the way to make sure you are meeting their requirements.
2.) Animal experience is any experience you have working directly with animals. All animals. Get as much diverse experience as you can!
3.) The hardest part about being an "older" student is going from having a good job with a nice bank account to being a poor student again. The rest is a breeze! Being that you have professional working experience you will find yourself to be more mature/ focused than many other student in your class. (This isn't true for all people, just a generalization). Being a "older" applicant is DEFINITELY an advantage!
4.) All I can comment on is the financial situation while completing the pre-reqs. You have two options, either go to school part-time and work or go to school full time and be very frugal. I went back full time. It was hard at first and I had to take out student loans for the first time ever. Once you get through he first semester, everything falls into place.

I think it is great that you want to go back to school! Figure out a plan that works for you and it will be well worth it! If you have any more questions or would like to know more about my experience fell free to message me! Happy to support you in your journey

(sorry for any spelling/ grammar mistakes responded in a hurry)
Thanks for the positive feedback/advice! Right now I'm just trying to determine what programs I'd be interested in and if this is really the path I should take. Hence why I'm asking questions, researching programs, etc.
 

Teepster87

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I would definitely say that physics could be done at CC, but I don't know about biochemistry (or possibly genetics). Get familiar with the requirements for your in state school if you have one, or schools you're looking at out of state.
And don't overlook taking the GRE. Being well prepared for that can help you get a few extra points I've been told.
 
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wildlifer

wildlifer

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I would definitely say that physics could be done at CC, but I don't know about biochemistry (or possibly genetics). Get familiar with the requirements for your in state school if you have one, or schools you're looking at out of state.
And don't overlook taking the GRE. Being well prepared for that can help you get a few extra points I've been told.
Thank you! Yes, I do plan on getting in contact with the programs I'm interested in regarding the pre-reqs, as the CC near me does offer both Physics and Biochemistry. Unfortunately I'm from Maine, so every vet school is OOS. And as far as the GRE, you're absolutely right! The first time I took it was just a bad idea/bad timing. Hardly prepared, was already stressed out do to personal life events, and had to drive in a blizzard to get to the test center that on a normal commute was 45 minutes away. Needless to say, I didn't do so hot. So preparing for and retaking the GRE is essential for me, no matter what I do, whether it be vet school or graduate school.
 

Lupin21

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I got started on my pre-reqs at the age of 28. Got in at 30. Have committed to the phd/dvm track so likely be at or pretty close to 40 when all is said and done. I feel like as long as you've got a good head on your shoulders, know what it is you are getting into, and make sure the classes you have taken are accepted and you apply smart, you've actually got a leg up on the young'ns. I was valued for my life experience and what that in turn brings to the vet community. Knowing how to package yourself is incredibly valuable in that respect, so I feel like my age was an advantage.
 

Lab Vet

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3.) How hard is it for the older students to get in? I just turned 28 and probably wouldn't apply for at least a year- year and half, as I would need that time to complete pre-reqs, retake GRE, etc.
Hi and welcome to SDN! I'm 36, and am just starting my second year of vet school. Although I'm the oldest member of my class, there are several students in their 40s in the NCSU 2019 class. You can do it!
 
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wildlifer

wildlifer

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Thank you all for the input. For those of you that are going to be in vet school or already in vet school, how do you deal with your undergrad debt??? This is probably one of my biggest concerns about going back to school, whether it be graduate or vet school. Having completing two undergrad degrees, I have accumulated quite a bit of student loan debt as is. And since I'm from Maine, I would be OOS no matter where I went. I do know there are some schools that allow you to change to IS after a year but either way, I'd be pretty far in the hole should I go through this. Anyone else having this dilemma??
 

Elkhart

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Thank you all for the input. For those of you that are going to be in vet school or already in vet school, how do you deal with your undergrad debt??? This is probably one of my biggest concerns about going back to school, whether it be graduate or vet school. Having completing two undergrad degrees, I have accumulated quite a bit of student loan debt as is. And since I'm from Maine, I would be OOS no matter where I went. I do know there are some schools that allow you to change to IS after a year but either way, I'd be pretty far in the hole should I go through this. Anyone else having this dilemma??
I am applying to vet school this cycle with just under $40,000 in debt before interest (this includes five years of undergrad + living on campus for all five years). As much as I kick myself for getting myself into the hole before vet school, I really can't say that I regret any part of my undergraduate experience and that at my total cost being around ~$14,000/yr... it could have been much, much worse. I do think about it a lot, but at the same time, I can't imagine doing anything else with my life but working in vet med, so I push through it. It has limited my choices of schools to apply to, as I'm only looking at those within reasonable affordability. I do have one more expensive "stretch" school, but I don't think my chances there are great. That said, I'd still go if I were to be accepted there.

In all honesty, it depends on how much debt you're currently in and how willing you are to deal with it. Vet school alone is quite the financial burden, so having undergraduate debt on top of that can certainly be a deterrent for some people. I decided to go for the plunge, but only because I have a relatively cheap IS school and I have qualified as IS for tuition purposes at another through a new veteran/military dependence program. If I lived in, say, PA where my IS school was the tremendously expensive Penn, or I lived in a state with no school or no contract seats, I don't know if I would have done it.

And don't forget that your loans will continue accruing interest -- both undergrad and vet school. Keep that in mind. Interest is killer.

Only you can choose whether or not you are willing or not to make that sacrifice.
 
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dyachei

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Definitely not old. In my class I had several career changes (out of 70). One was a former SWAT sniper. One of the best people in our class. Another had been teaching beforehand before deciding to go vet. It's not that uncommon. They were much older than 27-28. If this is what you want, don't let age stop you.
 
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wildlifer

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Thank you all responding. It's not so much the age that is causing some hesitation. It's more of the financial burden that I would endure on top of what I am already dealing with that is causing me to not go "full force" just yet. I really want to be sure before I start that process, as it will be a timely one with finishing up pre-reqs, GRE, apps, etc. Honestly, if I didn't have as much debt as I do, I don't think I'd be as hesitant about it.

How much aid is typically given to vet students? I know you have loans, that's a given. But I'm referring more to grants, scholarships, etc that you don't have to worry about paying back later? For the people who are currently in school or graduated, how much of your tuition & expenses were in loans and how much were in grants and such? Like a percentage? I know it can vary but just a rough idea would be nice. Thanks everyone, you all have been super helpful!
 

epivetlove

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How much aid is typically given to vet students? I know you have loans, that's a given. But I'm referring more to grants, scholarships, etc that you don't have to worry about paying back later? For the people who are currently in school or graduated, how much of your tuition & expenses were in loans and how much were in grants and such? Like a percentage? I know it can vary but just a rough idea would be nice. Thanks everyone, you all have been super helpful!
That's going to be entirely dependent on your school, what your interests are going in/going through school, your grades, extracurriculars, etc. I got $3,000 in scholarships my first year. This past school year I got nearly 10K due to academic merit and financial need. I have a classmate that received $20,000 for being heavily involved in the beef cattle industry. It's all very variable, but I'd be surprised if you didn't get any non-loan aid, especially if you're relying on loans to get through school.
 

motherofcavs

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Thank you all for this thread and especially wildlifer for starting it. I am a career changer myself - I worked in public accounting for 5 years before I decided to try to apply to vet school. My animal experience when I started this was limited to my 3 dogs and my prerequisites to my calculus class that I took 10 years ago. Starting all over was quite honestly the scariest thing I have ever done (other than pet a tiger...), but I cannot imagine going back. I opted to take prereqs at a 4-yr university as a post-bacc program. There are pros and cons to each...I don't know if I would go that same route if I had done more research on community college and online course options. I just applied for the first time this cycle (fingers crossed; anxiety through the roof!), although I am still finishing a few classes.

Having said all of this, my 30th birthday is 3 weeks away and I am terrified of getting too old for school, especially already having incurred some student loans for my masters degree. It is nice to hear that there are others like me. Good luck to you!
 
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wildlifer

wildlifer

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Thank you all for this thread and especially wildlifer for starting it. I am a career changer myself - I worked in public accounting for 5 years before I decided to try to apply to vet school. My animal experience when I started this was limited to my 3 dogs and my prerequisites to my calculus class that I took 10 years ago. Starting all over was quite honestly the scariest thing I have ever done (other than pet a tiger...), but I cannot imagine going back. I opted to take prereqs at a 4-yr university as a post-bacc program. There are pros and cons to each...I don't know if I would go that same route if I had done more research on community college and online course options. I just applied for the first time this cycle (fingers crossed; anxiety through the roof!), although I am still finishing a few classes.

Having said all of this, my 30th birthday is 3 weeks away and I am terrified of getting too old for school, especially already having incurred some student loans for my masters degree. It is nice to hear that there are others like me. Good luck to you!

Best of luck to you as well! The more I have been discussing this decision with my friends and family, the more I'm realizing it is a good decision for me. When I think back to when I was 20-21, there's absolutely no way I would have been ready for vet school. Sure, I had animal experiences and what not, but I just was not ready for the work load and the commitment. Now that I'm older and a bit wiser, I feel more confident about going this route. Unfortunately, I was too late to apply for this cycle, so I'm hoping to get in for class of 2021. Hopefully we both get accepted! :)
 
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Thank you all for this thread and especially wildlifer for starting it. I am a career changer myself - I worked in public accounting for 5 years before I decided to try to apply to vet school. My animal experience when I started this was limited to my 3 dogs and my prerequisites to my calculus class that I took 10 years ago. Starting all over was quite honestly the scariest thing I have ever done (other than pet a tiger...), but I cannot imagine going back. I opted to take prereqs at a 4-yr university as a post-bacc program. There are pros and cons to each...I don't know if I would go that same route if I had done more research on community college and online course options. I just applied for the first time this cycle (fingers crossed; anxiety through the roof!), although I am still finishing a few classes.

Having said all of this, my 30th birthday is 3 weeks away and I am terrified of getting too old for school, especially already having incurred some student loans for my masters degree. It is nice to hear that there are others like me. Good luck to you!
Hi!!! I was also in public accounting (only 2 years), did my post-bacc full-time at a big university, and now applying for the first time. I felt kinda guilty for "wasting" my CPA license but glad to see I'm not alone ;) #noragrets
 
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motherofcavs

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Hi!!! I was also in public accounting (only 2 years), did my post-bacc full-time at a big university, and now applying for the first time. I felt kinda guilty for "wasting" my CPA license but glad to see I'm not alone ;) #noragrets
Don't feel guilty. We always have the freedom to come back to it if we want to...although I can't imagine ever going through another busy season. Also I am hopeful that the CPA license will come in handy one day...or if anything it will look good framed in an office. Good luck to you!!!:luck:
 

Shantilly

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Glad to find all you "older" applicants and fellow career-changers! I was an accountant, too, and I keep telling myself that background will come in handy for running a practice later. It's already helped me in physics and chemistry. Good luck to all!
 
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I am considered one of those older students. I lived abroad for 3 years prior to starting vet school. I always knew I wanted to go to vet school, I just wanted to do other things before returning to school. I am so happy I did because I can't imagine going from undergrad straight to vet school with no break (I mean there is nothing wrong with that route, I am just thankful for the break).

In terms of working.... I technically have two jobs. I say technically because one of my jobs is a student representative job so I get paid to promote a veterinary company at school (also a great networking opportunity and I am just making a broad statement of what the job entails). My other job I work in a lab one weekend a month working on cases (plating bacteria) to give the usual staff a break and they work around my test schedule. I only work 2 hours in the morning on Saturday and Sunday 1x/month. In all that brings in $300/month... nowhere covering my actual living expenses but every little bit helps.
 
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LetItSnow

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I was an accountant, too, and I keep telling myself that background will come in handy for running a practice later.
I think being an accountant has about a 99% chance of being an incredibly useful background to you. It might even be the single BEST background to have.
 
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Starry-chan

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I just turned 28 and probably wouldn't apply for at least a year- year and half...
There's somebody over twice your age going to CSU: http://source.colostate.edu/he-schools-young-professors-in-lifelong-learning-he-is-the-oldest-veterinary-student-at-csu/ :)

I think being an accountant has about a 99% chance of being an incredibly useful background to you. It might even be the single BEST background to have.
Really? That intrigues me. Why is that?
 
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LetItSnow

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Really? That intrigues me. Why is that?
Primarily because the Shantilly mentioned "running a practice later." This is a tough business with increasingly tighter margins, and clinics go under because of poor financial management (among, obviously, other reasons). Someone with a background in accounting (or any branch of finance) would have a big leg up over someone who had no background in it, went to vet school, and was trying to learn it on the fly.
 

Starry-chan

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Ah, so somebody experienced with accounting could promote financially sound practices in the clinic.
 
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Minnerbelle

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Primarily because the Shantilly mentioned "running a practice later." This is a tough business with increasingly tighter margins, and clinics go under because of poor financial management (among, obviously, other reasons). Someone with a background in accounting (or any branch of finance) would have a big leg up over someone who had no background in it, went to vet school, and was trying to learn it on the fly.
It would be great to have an accounting background and run your own clinic.

It may get super frustrating if you have an accounting background and you work for the typical poorly managed vet clinic.
 

Starry-chan

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It may get super frustrating if you have an accounting background and you work for the typical poorly managed vet clinic.
So in that situation, accounting knowledge wouldn't help, because your opinion isn't considered?
 

Minnerbelle

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So in that situation, accounting knowledge wouldn't help, because your opinion isn't considered?
Yeah, but don't take me too seriously on that one. Poor management that associate vets don't agree with is one of the bigger reasons why many people decide to open up their own clinic (so they no longer have a crappy boss to answer to). It would be frustrating regardless of whether or not you have an accounting background. I would imagine you would be more apt to realize that you are being underpaid, and/or that clinic finances are being poorly managed if you have it though. Not a reason why you shouldn't learn accounting.

My younger sister in her late 20s just finished an accounting program that cost like 10% of what it cost me to go to vet school, that took like a semester to complete I think. She's job searching now, and has already gotten some good offers with salaries of at least 60k. Sheesh, when you think about it that way, what a crappy investment vet school was!
 

Starry-chan

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...is one of the bigger reasons why many people decide to open up their own clinic (so they no longer have a crappy boss to answer to).
Does having high educational debt (which most recent grads have) make it difficult to get the loans that would be needed to start their own clinic?
 
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Gwenevre

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Does having high educational debt (which most recent grads have) make it difficult to get the loans that would be needed to start their own clinic?
I liked your tag :)
 
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Minnerbelle

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Does having high educational debt (which most recent grads have) make it difficult to get the loans that would be needed to start their own clinic?
I dunno, never looked into it, but if you have questions about ownership, see if Dyachei can weigh in. She's our clinic owner guru here.
 

dyachei

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Does having high educational debt (which most recent grads have) make it difficult to get the loans that would be needed to start their own clinic?
the short answer is yes. they typically look at income to debt ratios and what repayments you can make. It's gotten a lot harder in the last few years to get loans.
 
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Starry-chan

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And that makes things tougher for vets close to retirement, yes? Because there are fewer people to potentially buy their clinic?
 

LetItSnow

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I've heard that the other major player is starting some standalone clinics, as well.
Yes. I am not positive I'm correct, but I thought someone said the majority of their new practices in the last year were standalone.

I think they're gradually moving away from their pet store partnership intentionally. Combine that with their acquisition of a large specialty/referral practice ..... Hmm.
 

dyachei

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Yes. I am not positive I'm correct, but I thought someone said the majority of their new practices in the last year were standalone.

I think they're gradually moving away from their pet store partnership intentionally. Combine that with their acquisition of a large specialty/referral practice ..... Hmm.
There are rumors that their partnership is dissolving with new ownership to that pet store. So they may NEED to move to standalone. They are looking for a place near my clinic.