Jul 12, 2019
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Pre-Veterinary
Hello! I am currently a senior looking to apply to vet school in hopes of becoming a vet pathologist afterwards. I think my stats are pretty good other than having no animal experience. I have a 3.8 cGPA, 4.0 sGPA, and 4.0 GPA over the last 3 semesters. I am taking the GRE soon and my practice tests are coming out at around 318 (Great quant, bad verbal). I have well over 1000 hours of research in biology with multiple publications and more coming down the pipe right now. I have also worked as a lab tech for about 4 months. But, like i said, i have zero animal experience but i have the idea that it may not hurt me too bad because i do not want to be a practicing vet who works directly with animals. I want to be a vet pathologist who also does research and maybe even teaches if the opportunity arises. I do plan on doing vet shadowing in the coming months (100-200 hours).

EDIT* I should also say that the research i have done all involves histology so i have 1000-2000 hours of experience in that field.

What are my chances of admission, advice you have for me?
 

love2hunt

VMCVM c/o 2021
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Jul 11, 2016
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What happens if you don't make it into a pathology residency program after vet school? That's a $100k minimum gamble that I'd sure be nervous to make. I'd strongly recommend making sure you'd be happy using your DVM in a field other than pathology before applying.
 
OP
Histologylover
Jul 12, 2019
4
0
Status
Pre-Veterinary
Why vet pathology instead of human pathology????
Two things, variety and the basis of human pathology's. Human pathologist only work with humans, i want more variety in the species that i work with. Also, as a vet pathologist you can directly effect the health and happiness of humans by helping their animals and seeing animal pathology's before they can affect humans.
 

SkiOtter

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Mar 10, 2016
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Human pathologist only work with humans, i want more variety in the species that i work with.
Not sure if that’s enough of a reason to do vet over human. Have you looked at the debt to salary ratio of each? You will also still have to work with animals in school, regardless of wanting to do only path and not work directly with animals ever. You will still likely have to do a rotating internship after graduation before a path residency.
Also, as a vet pathologist you can directly effect the health and happiness of humans by helping their animals and seeing animal pathology's before they can affect humans.
That’s more of an indirect effect. As a human pathologist, you would be directly affecting human health by figuring out what kind of tumor someone has.
 
OP
Histologylover
Jul 12, 2019
4
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Status
Pre-Veterinary
Not sure if that’s enough of a reason to do vet over human. Have you looked at the debt to salary ratio of each? You will also still have to work with animals in school, regardless of wanting to do only path and not work directly with animals ever. You will still likely have to do a rotating internship after graduation before a path residency.

That’s more of an indirect effect. As a human pathologist, you would be directly affecting human health by figuring out what kind of tumor someone has.
Also, i should say, that i do like animals. I have owned dogs/cats/fish all my life and plan to continue to do so. I don't want to NOT work with them, i just don't plan on that being my main action as a vet.
 

MixedAnimals77

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May 16, 2016
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Hello! I am currently a senior looking to apply to vet school in hopes of becoming a vet pathologist afterwards. I think my stats are pretty good other than having no animal experience. I have a 3.8 cGPA, 4.0 sGPA, and 4.0 GPA over the last 3 semesters. I am taking the GRE soon and my practice tests are coming out at around 318 (Great quant, bad verbal). I have well over 1000 hours of research in biology with multiple publications and more coming down the pipe right now. I have also worked as a lab tech for about 4 months. But, like i said, i have zero animal experience but i have the idea that it may not hurt me too bad because i do not want to be a practicing vet who works directly with animals. I want to be a vet pathologist who also does research and maybe even teaches if the opportunity arises. I do plan on doing vet shadowing in the coming months (100-200 hours).

EDIT* I should also say that the research i have done all involves histology so i have 1000-2000 hours of experience in that field.

What are my chances of admission, advice you have for me?
So I guess my question is you say you plan to get 100-200 hours of vet shadowing in the coming months. So you haven't even shadowed a vet yet? I would highly advise you against applying if you haven't even had some clinical experience yet as you will have to do clinicals in school. Plus the lack of animal experience I think would be a very uphill battle in terms of applying as most schools require a veterinarian to write a LOR. Also are you wanting to do gross or clinical pathology?
 
OP
Histologylover
Jul 12, 2019
4
0
Status
Pre-Veterinary
So I guess my question is you say you plan to get 100-200 hours of vet shadowing in the coming months. So you haven't even shadowed a vet yet? I would highly advise you against applying if you haven't even had some clinical experience yet as you will have to do clinicals in school. Plus the lack of animal experience I think would be a very uphill battle in terms of applying as most schools require a veterinarian to write a LOR. Also are you wanting to do gross or clinical pathology?
I wish to do anatomical pathology. I will have shadowed by the time I apply.
 

JaynaAli

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Clinical pathology resident here...a lot of this is probably better answered by WTF since she's an anatomic, but here's my take.

I personally think you will face an uphill battle with vet school admissions committees as things are now, though it's probably not impossible with the right essays and interview stuff. You can go into school thinking 100% that you want to be in pathology, but things change. Just ask @twelvetigers, she used to want to do path, spent years working in a clin path lab, and then changed her mind along the way. Many, many people change their mind about what they want to do within vet med during the course of school. You absolutely may be someone who doesn't waver, but the general consensus for applicants is to experience multiple aspects of vet med and don't stick all your eggs in one basket. Your current paucity of non-pathology vet experience is probably a bigger red flag to me than a lack of animal experience. What happens if you don't get a residency program? They're competitive, and no everyone who wants one will get one. What will you do then...are you okay finding another career in vet med or will you have "wasted" 100k+ going to vet school? Admissions committees may have a pathologist on them, but most members will not be. You absolutely need to get some "regular" vet experience to round out your application, preferably from more than one place. That way if a school asks you 'what if that path path doesn't work out' you can explain how you've shadowed and there's more that interests you. You have to understand, admissions committees are picking people for vet school, not pathologist school. There is still 2-3 months to get experience before applications, though I would also recommend at least considering waiting to apply next year to give yourself more time...if your planned vet experience yet is small animal, go find a large animal rescue or something to get some animal experience. At least go volunteer at a dog/cat shelter on weekends. Do at least something...even 50 hours animal experience would be better than none at all. With all that said, can you get into vet school and eventually pathology with minimal experience in other fields? Yes. I think I've seen WTF say before that she knew she wanted to be a pathologist and had only a little shadowing in other fields because she had to do it, and she made it work. So it's probably possible, but it may not be easy and some schools may care more about your lack of varied experiences than others.

Another thing I will ask is can you do this research without a DVM? There is very little money in most animal-focused research...the money is in human research and then translational stuff that can be applied to humans. Human pathology is in a pretty bad state right now from what I have read, but being an MD may open more doors for research than a DVM, depending on what you need to do. I know you said you want to work with different species, but most researchers end up with very specific projects related to specific diseases. Maybe it's ignorance of the field on my part, but it seems to me the variety in path seems to come from diagnostics, which you don't even mention wanting to do (you mention research and a little teaching).
 
Jan 18, 2006
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Anatomic here.

A rotating internship is not necessary for anatomic pathology residencies. We're also a little special as in we don't go through the match. However, path is extremely competitive (on the level of zoo med...for example, I had to beat out about 30-40 other people for my spot and had to work my ass off for it). Even though you don't need an internship, you need to show a LOT of dedication to field in terms of externships, jobs, etc during vet school. There is absolutely no guarantee that you will get a spot. It's not like surgery or internal medicine with match rates of >50%. You need to be okay with a back-up field, whether that be general practice, or research (and if it's research, you'll probably need to get a PhD too).

Like others have said, going in with a one-track mind is a big gamble, especially when it comes to a competitive field like path. I didn't know I wanted to do path from the get-go, but I did know that I wanted to do something other than general practice. Research, some other type of specialty like radiology, etc. But again, I had alternatives, I had back-ups. And I still got clinical experience (not a whole lot, but I did). I also had years and thousands of hours of research experience that I accumulated during undergrad, which is what likely got me in. My advice to you right now would be to find schools with strong research programs and emphasis on research experience, and focus your applications there while you shadow.

You already said you're going to get clinical experience. Please do. Because the clinical experience puts all of the pathology in context. I'm a veterinarian first and a pathologist second. Trust me, all of the clinical and diagnostic stuff comes back around - you need to know the CLINICAL MEDICINE as well as the tissue and cell biology and histology. It's all related. Not to mention you will need shadowing and letters of recommendation from a veterinarian.

A great pathologist is not the cell-obsessed genius who sits in a little corner office at their scope all day and never sees an actual animal. A great pathologist is one who understand and appreciates all of the hands-on procedures and clinical diagnostics that come with vet med. I consult with referring vets and other practitioners all the time -we're not islands.

That being said, I love my specialty. I teach path at an MD school and do locum work at a vet school. It's pretty sweet.
 
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twelvetigers

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Mar 12, 2008
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I personally think you will face an uphill battle with vet school admissions committees as things are now, though it's probably not impossible with the right essays and interview stuff. You can go into school thinking 100% that you want to be in pathology, but things change. Just ask @twelvetigers, she used to want to do path, spent years working in a clin path lab, and then changed her mind along the way.
So, I definitely wanted to be a clinical pathologist. I put it in my personal statement, I shadowed the rounds at the teaching hospital for about 200 hours (in addition to like 2000+ hours of other vet and animal experience). I got into vet school after several applications.

I didn't make good grades. If you want a residency, you have to do well, and I didn't really - I struggled. I didn't expect to struggle. I wasn't a bad student in undergrad. But I really did struggle. I didn't like vet school, that made it harder. So I wasn't able to get the experience I needed and my GPA wasn't where it needed to be.

HOWEVER, even if I had done well, the idea of another 3+ years in that environment was VERY unappealing by the time I was done. And typically you either need some time in general practice or a rotating small animal internship to get into the residency first, and that (the internship, anyway) would have been miserable for me. GP has been okay, so I wouldn't have minded, but still - that's four years on top of the the four you put into vet school. It's a long haul.

It's gonna be really hard for you to have any idea if your plans would change - I didn't think mine would... I was so certain. But life happens. So, since you just can't know, you really do need to make sure you have some sort of 'plan B' within vet med. Something else you wouldn't mind doing. I ended up in GP... and it's alright, but it's not what I wanted. I'm finding my way to something else now. But the loans don't stop even if you have some 'buyer's remorse' about the whole deal... yanno.

You'll need to get some normal clinic (general practice) experience because:
  1. They'll want to see it on your application.
  2. It's a lot of what vet school aims to teach you and it helps to have some understanding of it, even minimal.
  3. You may have to do it for a year or so in your pursuit of pathology.
  4. You may have to do it full time if things just don't work out, which is hard to imagine, but definitely possible.
I think you still have some time to mull it over and decide if this is your one true path. If it is, so be it - but you'll have to make sure your application is competitive first, and clinical experience is where it lacks the most.

Also, in regards to vet vs. human - LOOK AT THE SALARIES and make sure you are okay with where you would stand. You may get to see more variety in vet met, but tissues are tissues and you'll see a lot of the same stuff every day with whichever you choose. And human pathology goes a lot more in depth on some things, so perhaps that makes up for the lack of special variety.