panduh

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Hi! I'm at a bit of a crossroads and was hoping I could get some advice from the people here. Please bear with me, as this may be a long post :eek: (I've bolded the main questions in the post, for those that don't have time to read through it all, hope it helps)

Animals and art have always been a passion of mine. I'm to be 27 this month, with a BFA degree from art college and had, previous to transferring to an art school, attended UC Davis for 2 years in the hopes of going to med/vet school. Now, after 2 years in animation, I'm finding that I don't get the same rewarding experience as I did when I was working with animals and animal lovers, having spent a summer volunteering at the humane society and another summer exhibiting reptiles at elementary school science events. So now, I'm seriously reconsidering going back to school to finish up my pre-vet studies, which should take just 1-2 years cause of my Davis classes. And hence, this is where the problems and questions begin...

Am I too old (27), or too far into my initial career to even consider pursuing a veterinary profession? Or rather, how long would it take to obtain a DVM, assuming I'll be a full-time student? I know that it's extremely competitive to get into a vet school, so would it be wise to abandon my current profession for the hopes of getting into a good vet school? Has anyone else gone through the same experience? I don't want to be left in a canoe without a paddle, so to speak.

I want to maximize my time and money, so as not to spend too much more of either. I'll always have my art degree, but apart from the occasional freelancing and personal works, if I decide to go vet med, I'm putting aside the animation career. That's why reading some of the posts in this forum have made me quite nervous, where some have needed to pursue a masters before even getting accepted (another 2+ years) or having to take years off to obtain enough hours in animal/vet experience. I really don't want to be in my mid-30s or more by the time I'm a doctor, that's just a personal goal I'm setting for myself, just don't know if it's realistic or not.

My initial plan was to volunteer at the humane society again while in school and maybe also find a position part-time as a clerk at a clinic. Would this be able to satisfy the application requirements? I've read here that it's also possible to shadow a veterinarian as well, how does one go about doing that? I'm also planning to attend Cal Poly Pomona for their BS in Animal Science and taking the Pre-Veterinary Science/Graduate School Option, which includes many classes with hands-on experience. On that note, does anyone know how their program is?

Also, just curious, but is it possible to start one's own clinic right out of school? Do many graduates attempt to start their own private practices?

Sorry for the long-winded post, but it's a big transition for me. Parents are giving me a hard time as well, which is understandable. But I feel like if it's possible to accomplish professionalism in both of my passions in my lifetime, I'm gonna take that opportunity!

Thanks for reading through my post, and I hope some of you can give me some guidance, it's much needed :D
 

HorseyVet

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panduh said:
Am I too old (27), or too far into my initial career to even consider pursuing a veterinary profession? Or rather, how long would it take to obtain a DVM, assuming I'll be a full-time student? I know that it's extremely competitive to get into a vet school, so would it be wise to abandon my current profession for the hopes of getting into a good vet school? Has anyone else gone through the same experience?
A lot of people (or at least more then some think) decide to switch to a medical profession after obtaining various other degrees. Often people switch from a non-science (art, english, buisness) to a medical/science profession, but I've also known people that were in astro/aero physics or engineering that switched to animal science or vet med. So, I really wouldn't let your age stop you.

After you complete your vet pre-reqs and get accepted, vet school in the US schools is 4 years to get your DVM. You can start working as a vet right after school or you can do internships and residencies which will add another 3-4 years to your education. You do get paid for them, but often it is relatively little (20-25) to what you would get if you were to go out and work in a practice (40-60 roughly). Afterwards though you may stand to make more then a general practitioner depending on what feild you go into.

panduh said:
I want to maximize my time and money, so as not to spend too much more of either. I'll always have my art degree, but apart from the occasional freelancing and personal works, if I decide to go vet med, I'm putting aside the animation career. That's why reading some of the posts in this forum have made me quite nervous, where some have needed to pursue a masters before even getting accepted (another 2+ years) or having to take years off to obtain enough hours in animal/vet experience. I really don't want to be in my mid-30s or more by the time I'm a doctor, that's just a personal goal I'm setting for myself, just don't know if it's realistic or not.
Depending on what your GPA is now (irregardless of if the classes are vet pre-reqs or not) will determine how competitive you are right now and how much work you'll need to do to become competitive to get into a US school. I would find the school you're the most likely to want to go to (probably Davis or Western if you're in CA), and meet with their admissions people and see where they say you stand right now. You'll just need to decide if it's worth it to you to become competitive if you're not already.

panduh said:
My initial plan was to volunteer at the humane society again while in school and maybe also find a position part-time as a clerk at a clinic. Would this be able to satisfy the application requirements? I've read here that it's also possible to shadow a veterinarian as well, how does one go about doing that?


Again, I'd talk to the admission people before you start placing your time anywhere. Usually vet schools like 1-2 "depth" shadowing/vet experiences and 1-2+ additional "breadth" experiences. "Depth" means around 100-300 hours and/or someplace where you are a lot more involved/hands on. "Breadth" is sort of anything else. The goal is to show that you *really* understand multiple aspects of the profession and to make sure that you yourself really wants this career.

panduh said:
Also, just curious, but is it possible to start one's own clinic right out of school? Do many graduates attempt to start their own private practices?
You will have A LOT OF DEBT....most people have too much to open their own practice. Also you really don't know much right out of school (to be blunt you're fairly worthless) and really should be somewhere where there are older vets to teach you the ropes. Some people do start their own right out of school, but I wouldn't make this an immutable goal by any stretch.

For now, I'd really do some searching in this forum (use the search function) to find out more about being competitive and about what people do for experiences. I'd get in touch with a vet school asap and see where you stand as an applicant.
 

zufuss

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It is never to late to work for what you want. Its not going to be easy though, but the really great things in life never are.
 
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kate_g

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panduh said:
Am I too old (27), or too far into my initial career to even consider pursuing a veterinary profession?
No! The *average* age at matriculation at Davis is 26, and I think it's pretty similar at other schools. I'll be 31 on matriculation if lucky :eek: so I'd certainly say 27 is definitely not too old to start a year or two of pre-reqs. Go for it!

Oh, and as far as shadowing... If you've got pets then the easiest thing is to just send a letter to your regular veterinarian, stating your interest and asking if you can shadow. But if you're moving to attend Cal Poly, you won't have a regular vet yet... If Cal Poly has a pre-vet animal science degree, you could call their pre-vet advisor, or even just the professors who teach the pre-vet classes. They might know of vets in the area that have been supportive of pre-vet students in the past.
 
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panduh

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I'd really like to thank everyone for their encouragement and great advice! I definitely feel a lot more confident now in pursuing a second profession. I've actually made an appointment with my veterinarian to meet and talk more about this new path I'm heading into. I was really surprised and excited at how willing she was to make time for me. I'm also gonna make a visit to Western, I'm actually really close to Pomona, so we'll see if the admissions people there are equally as helpful :)

Thanks again for all the help, I've never been as nervous and excited about something as I am now!
 

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panduh said:
I'm also gonna make a visit to Western, I'm actually really close to Pomona, so we'll see if the admissions people there are equally as helpful
I have no experience with Western, so I'm not warning you specifically about them... But, don't let admissions people get you down. Certainly some of them are warm and supportive, some even drift into rah-rah (go for it! you can do it! yay!). But others are... lukewarm at best. I guess they see a *lot* of potential applicants, only some of which actually apply, and hardly any ever become students at the school. Maybe they're just trying to "tell it like it is" or something, not get your hopes up. Maybe they just don't care very much about yet another pre-applicant.

I had only gotten reactions of the supportive/rah-rah variety from vets and faculty by the first time I talked to an admissions person, and she was a total dud. On the one hand it was clear from what she said that I had a really good chance, and on the other she didn't say anything the least bit encouraging or tell me directly that I had any chance at all. It really kind of derailed my enthusiasm and made me question the whole thing. So anyway, like I said I don't know anything about the people at Western specifically, but *just in case* you get a sourpuss, get another opinion before you're discouraged. :)
 

HorseyVet

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kate_g said:
But, don't let admissions people get you down. Certainly some of them are warm and supportive, some even drift into rah-rah (go for it! you can do it! yay!). But others are... lukewarm at best. .

I had only gotten reactions of the supportive/rah-rah variety from vets and faculty by the first time I talked to an admissions person, and she was a total dud. On the one hand it was clear from what she said that I had a really good chance, and on the other she didn't say anything the least bit encouraging or tell me directly that I had any chance at all. It really kind of derailed my enthusiasm and made me question the whole thing.

lol...no kidding...I think with a lot of these admins/adcoms people the following old adage really applies: "those who can't, teach...and those who *really* can't go into administration"

All of these people usually have to be vets themselves...and with some of them you really can see why they're not practicing in any capacity anymore.

Some people are retired from practice (a fair share of little old ex-LA men) or people that joined the university to put their kids through school but yeah...a number seem to be the "duds" of vet med.
 

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Hey guys,

While some of the admissions people are definately nicer/more encouraging than others, admissions committe members and admissions people have been known to browse the boards on SDN. I would think twice about what you post about them, especially if you havent been admitted yet!
 

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HorseyVet said:
lol...no kidding...I think with a lot of these admins/adcoms people the following old adage really applies: "those who can't, teach...and those who *really* can't go into administration"

All of these people usually have to be vets themselves...and with some of them you really can see why they're not practicing in any capacity anymore.

Some people are retired from practice (a fair share of little old ex-LA men) or people that joined the university to put their kids through school but yeah...a number seem to be the "duds" of vet med.
sometimes i wonder if you even think before you start running your trap. honestly!
 

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Heh... So let me clarify that I meant "dud" in the personality sense - not that that is necessarily any less insulting. :) This particular person wasn't lacking in intellectual or professional capacity that I could tell... Just wasn't at all interested in being cheery or encouraging (hey, for all I know, I could have failed utterly to seem worthy of encouragement). Certainly it's not her *job* to be cheery and encouraging, it's her job to judge applications. It's just that most people in the business act so excited when you tell them you want to be a vet, this (lack of) response was really discouraging... I would have been happier with "to be honest, you don't stand much of a chance" than with a blase' run-through of the averages for the past years' classes.

So, my "don't let them get you down" advice to panduh stands.

(FWIW that very afternoon I spoke to another administrative person at the same school who just seemed so satisfied helping out the students and so generally happy to be alive that it was infectious. It's just the luck of the draw with who's answering the phone I guess...)
 

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panduh said:
Also, just curious, but is it possible to start one's own clinic right out of school? Do many graduates attempt to start their own private practices?
To add a possibly more useful post to the thread... I know of two vets who each *sort of* started up a practice right after school - actually one of them may have practiced at a clinic before, I'm not sure. What they actually did was buy a van and a bunch of basic supplies and offer housecall service. Routine exams on animals belonging to elderly/infirm people, or rich people who can't be bothered to sit in a waiting room. One of them was equipped for minor surgery (remove a little skin growth, I&D an abcess), the other did field spays at feral cat colonies but I think no surgery on owned animals. Anyway, clearly that limits your practice, but if you're looking for independence and business experience it's less risk than actually buying a building.

(Similarly I know of two "freelance" vet techs. Most of their business is animals who need frequent minor treatments - fluids, injections, pills, wound care. Often the owner is doing this stuff regularly and the tech is hired like a pet-sitter for vacations, but some clients hire them weekly to help out with the more serious stuff they can't do alone. I believe both of the people I know of were previously employed at a clinic, and maintain some loose affiliation but don't work regular shifts. Just an interesting thought for those of you who are licensed and might want a really flexible evening-hours job during school.)
 

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good luck to you! its never too late to pursue what you love to do :]

about shadowing, i just asked a vet if i could. she was more than happy to let me in on her day, and teach me as we went along. it was mucho funo. n.n
 

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dvm'08 said:
sometimes i wonder if you even think before you start running your trap. honestly!
Sometimes I wonder if you have anything to say that is useful or (at the very least) not condescending.

Sorry but there are some not-so great admin people out there. There are a few people who I know the personal background of how they got to an admission position and some aren't pretty. I didn't mention (nor would ever) any school in particular.
 

HorseyVet

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kate_g said:
To add a possibly more useful post to the thread... I know of two vets who each *sort of* started up a practice right after school - actually one of them may have practiced at a clinic before, I'm not sure. What they actually did was buy a van and a bunch of basic supplies and offer housecall service.
This isn't (or wasn't) too uncommon for some LA vets. I've known a few that at one point just worked out of their truck. Since it's a lot of feild work anyway (most of the LA vets I worked with didn't have a place at the clinic to keep horses etc. anyway-the clinic was for the SA) you can almost be totally functional without an "offical" clinic. You usually do *a lot* of driving depending on your area. One of the limitations was having a place for the x-ray processor, but with digital it's not as big of a deal these days.

Personally I'd still want to have some time with a more experienced vet first, but it depends on what level of treatment you're wanting to offer. If you just want to run around and float teeth and give vaccines, you're probably be fine, but you'd have to be careful about where you set up shop...If you open a out-of-the truck LA practice and offer floating and vacs for a fraction of the local vets (with clinics and higher overhead=higher cost), the clients will use you for the little stuff and only call the clinic-vets for emergencies and more complicated procedures. You might get run out of town. I've seen this happen with "equine dentist" services a couple of times...although there I'm not 100% that it was an actual vet or just a tech.
 
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panduh

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I'm gonna be visiting Western this week. Thanks for the heads-up about what I may expect with the admissions, but I definitely won't be discouraged, it'll take more than that to stop me once I get set on a goal :)

A personal mobile clinic sounds great, but I can see where problems may occur. I was watching Animal Planet, and they showed a mobile clinic that provided free neuter/spay services for low-income areas. Maybe I'll be able to participate in a service like that instead, but I do understand that it'll take some experience with seasoned vets first if I intend to start up anything of my own.

I'm gonna ask this question when I visit Western, but thought I'd get some opinions from those that came from other schools as well. I was just wondering whether it'd be better to attend a school like Cal Poly Pomona, which has an Animal Science degree program, or a UC (UCLA, UC Irvine) with a Biology degree? I know it would probably be better to go back to UC Davis, but due to monetary/family reasons, I'm really not able to move up there at the moment. It's also due to monetary reasons why I chose a Cal State university before considering a UC, but if going to a UC instead will greatly increase my chances to get into vet school, then I can take out some private loans I suppose.

Thanks again for the help!
 
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