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Deciding between medical and veterinary school

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by diehlmg, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. diehlmg

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    I know this has probably been a thread or some post earlier on, but I was wondering if anyone had to decide between:

    1. Medical or Veterinary School, 2. What their/your decision was, 3. What influenced their/your decision.

    I have always known I wanted to practice medicine, but deciding between vet or med school has, for the past few year, been a struggle for me. I am a college student that has been an EMT, and a practicing one at that, for a year and a half...worked as a veterinary assistant at a SA clinic for five years, and have had experience in Large/farm animals as well. I have also shadowed both professions and one would think that I should have a clear idea of what i want and who I am, but that is simply not the case. Thank you all for any posts and information you can provide.


    Best Regards
     
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  3. Electrophile

    Electrophile Working Dog Doc
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    Very good (and important!) question! I had secretly wanted to be a vet since I was six, but was pre-med all the way up to junior year of college when I switched to pre-law (and switched to pre-vet in grad school while realizing I wouldn't be happy for the rest of my life being an attorney). One of the deciding factors was not wanting to have to put up with all the crazy administrative stuff that physicians have to. I wanted to practice medicine and work with patients and colleagues, not be filling out paperwork juggling insurance crapola constantly. That's why there is a lot of resistance to managed care in veterinary medicine, despite the fact it will probably help more people pay for high dollar procedures. They don't want to lose that autonomy and the extra piles of paperwork. Not to mention the CYA (cover your @$$) defensive medicine (though we have have to worry about it too, just not *quite* to the same degree, but it's getting there).

    And as much as I think the respect you get as a physician is pretty cool, I don't like how you are likewise expected to drive a 50K luxury SUV or sports car, have a million dollar house, send the kids to private school, etc. Not that all physicians are like this, but there are expectations for having a certain lifestyle that vets don't necessarily have.

    For what it's worth, on both SDN and on VIN, I feel I've heard more physicians (including my aunt and great uncles, both MDs at universities) say they wish they would have done something else. That the money doesn't come for a long time (mid to late 30s). That they've spent 100K on childcare for their kids they never get to see. That what medicine is like now is not how it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. In vet med, it seems that conditions are actually somewhat improving for our patients, clients, and practicing good medicine in general. Pets live longer and are generally cared for better, people care more animal welfare in food animal than they used to, we have most of the same diagnostic toys, treatments, and surgeries that the MDs/DOs have. Now, our debt load as future vets has skyrocketed, which will need to be addressed somehow, but I feel that vet med in general is better than it was 10 to 20 years ago, but I've heard physicians say the opposite is true in human medicine, where it's a lot more cookbook, more CYA, much less patient/doctor interaction, less pay/reimbursement, Big Pharma and Big Insurance taking over, etc. *shrug*

    Not that vets don't say that either, but it seems like life is a teeny tiny microscopic bit more flexible as a vet. It seems a little easier to be a part time and/or relief vet if you want to spend time with your family. And there are a TON of different jobs you can do besides just private practice. There is some flexibility in human medicine as well, of course, it just seems that specialty is the standard because of $$$. I'll always kind of wish what it would have been like to be an MD, but if it makes you feel better on the vet side of things, you can always get an MPH. We also have to learn a good bit about human medicine anyways for a number of reasons which I can go into if you like.

    Anyways, try to imagine yourself 15-20 years down the road trying to see what you will enjoy more. And get a lot of opinions from both human and veterinary doctors and see what their dreams and regrets were. If you had the same kind of autonomy that a lot of private practice vets, that'd be a harder choice for me to make. That's why I came to the conclusion that I did that I would be better off in vet school than law school and med school.
     
  4. diehlmg

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    I know this has probably been a thread or some post earlier on, but I was wondering if anyone had to decide between:

    1. Medical or Veterinary School, 2. What their/your decision was, 3. What influenced their/your decision.

    I have always known I wanted to practice medicine, but deciding between vet or med school has, for the past few year, been a struggle for me. I am a college student that has been an EMT, and a practicing one at that, for a year and a half...worked as a veterinary assistant at a SA clinic for five years, and have had experience in Large/farm animals as well. I have also shadowed both professions and one would think that I should have a clear idea of what i want and who I am, but that is simply not the case. Thank you all for any posts and information you can provide.


    Best Regards
     
  5. tennisball80

    tennisball80 Membership Revoked
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    Are you interested in human or animal ? I like human biology so I am premed.
     
  6. diehlmg

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    I know this has probably been a thread or some post earlier on, but I was wondering if anyone had to decide between:

    1. Medical or Veterinary School, 2. What their/your decision was, 3. What influenced their/your decision.

    I have always known I wanted to practice medicine, but deciding between vet or med school has, for the past few year, been a struggle for me. I am a college student that has been an EMT, and a practicing one at that, for a year and a half...worked as a veterinary assistant at a SA clinic for five years, and have had experience in Large/farm animals as well. I have also shadowed both professions and one would think that I should have a clear idea of what i want and who I am, but that is simply not the case. Thank you all for any posts and information you can provide.


    Best Regards
     
  7. diehlmg

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    that's the problem i suppose, I am interested in both. I have talked to other pre-med/pre-vet students...and they just don't understand that I could be interested in both...as if because I am interested in human biology or medicine, that has to exclude animal biology and medicine. Biology, science, medicine, and the humanities and how they fit together in theory and practice is all interesting to me. I suppose that's where the problem lies. Thank you for the reply and advice/conversation starter. I am hoping this type of dialogue helps in the decision process.
     
  8. URHere

    Physician PhD 10+ Year Member

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    Personally, I had a very hard time deciding between the two. In the end, I chose human medicine because veterinary medicine just didn't allow me the same freedom to use the skills I would develop. For many people, if a pet gets sick, that's the end of the line. No chance to perform surgery, or to even bother with a diagnosis. On the other hand, if a human is sick, the sky is the limit.

    It may be selfish, but if I am going to learn to treat a problem, I would like to be able to use that knowledge in my actual career.
     
  9. Chocolate Bear

    Chocolate Bear Moderizzle Fo'Shizzle!
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    Hmm, I've had this same thought, as I think many pre-meds have, but certainly not to this degree, where it was such a struggle to decide. I sort of overwhelmingly chose medicine after toying with the thought of being a vet.

    So are they both equally attractive in your mind? Like, do you see yourself equally happy in either profession?

    Do you feel the need to talk to your patients? Make a deep connection with them when they are really sick?

    What about lifestyle issues? What kinds of practice settings appeal to you, in either profession? Wouldn't you be more likely to open your own practice as a vet (I could be wrong)? Does that appeal to you?

    How much shadowing experience do you have with both professions? I'd think that with enough exposure, this decision would become easier to make, but perhaps not.
     
  10. MossPoh

    MossPoh Textures intrigue me
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    Well, when someone asks you "What do you want to do?" what is the first image that pops into your head. You really can't go wrong with either. I love animals, but I also know that it wouldn't bring the same personal fulfillment or career paths I was interested in as medicine. Vet school is tough to get into simply because there aren't many of them. In addition, for whatever reason, they don't make as much. I know money shouldn't be a factor but if you are in an honest to god tie between the two, that'd be my tie breaker. I get the sense that you know a lot more of what vet stuff is like than medical. EMT is a great catalyst, but it is very different from being a doctor. Shadow a variety of physicians.

    When weighing your decisions think about location of schools, realistic chances at achieving each, potential levels of happiness, money, and that overall gut feeling. I honestly think that, if you remove yourself from all external influences, the best decision for you will jump out.
     
  11. Chocolate Bear

    Chocolate Bear Moderizzle Fo'Shizzle!
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    This thread is cross-posted, so I'm closing. Interested parties can respond to the OP here.
     
  12. slowbutsteady

    slowbutsteady slowbutsteady
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    I chose medicine because i want to talk to my patients. and have them talk back.

    i'm serious.
     
  13. J ROD

    J ROD Watch my TAN walk!!
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    Do you like for your patients to have excessive hair and enjoy the occasional bite or scratch then chose vet?
     
  14. J ROD

    J ROD Watch my TAN walk!!
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    It definitely can make things easier when they can respond back. :)
     
    #13 J ROD, Jan 1, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2009
  15. moe_4eva

    moe_4eva doprepd on my haed
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    If I can put in my two cents here, I would say that unless you have a very strong desire to work with animals, go the human medicine route. My wife is working her way through veterinary school, and I through med school so I have maybe a bit of a unique perspective on the matter.

    The unfortunate fact with choosing the veterinary route is that loans will kill you. The OOS students are paying 55k a year to attend, and with the average veterinarian making 50-70k depending on where you end up, it will be very difficult for them to pay off 200k+ in loans. My wife will absolutely need to rely on me (not that I mind) to pay off the bulk of her loans, and she's considered in state so will graduate with around 120k in loans. She's told me many times that if she didn't love animals so much, she would have picked a different route. The veterinarians she's worked for have actually sat her down on more than one occassion to try to talk her out of it due to the financial situation of new graduates, and these people were highly successful with incomes above 100k (which is considered quite good).

    The loophole to the above is if you have a strong desire to do mixed animal veterinary medicine (ie rural medicine), and work mostly with large animals and a few small here and there. There are programs in place that work like rural human medicine in that they will pay back a portion of your loans, although you have to commit to working in a rural area for a number of years, which can be hard for many people to do.

    Aside from the financial situation, I actually envy veterinarians. They have the ability to practice just about any kind of medicine they choose, provided they find someone to train them. Being able to do the equivalent of FM clinic in the morning, and spend the afternoon doing ortho surgery is a wonderful benefit that is often overlooked. It's also very challenging, as someone above pointed out, to not be able to ask your patient what it's symptoms are. And don't let anyone tell you that you're missing that human interaction, since dealing with the owners of your patients is quite comparable to a pediatrician dealing with the parents.

    I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about switching to veterinary medicine early on, but for me, I decided on human medicine due to a desire to work more directly with people, and for the frustrations of practicing veterinary medicine. I can only imagine how painful it is to have the ability to fix an animal, but have the owners choose to put it down due to an inability (or lack of desire) to pay to have the animal fixed, as this frequently occurs.

    Good luck on your decision, it really is a great path to take either way (if you can put the financials aside, or your parents are paying for your schooling).
     
  16. slowbutsteady

    slowbutsteady slowbutsteady
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    hairy?

    biting?

    scratching?

    sounds like could be either field. :scared:
     
  17. J ROD

    J ROD Watch my TAN walk!!
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    Very true! :laugh:

    Guess I should have thought about it a little more....
     
  18. michigator04

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    I never considered vet school, but my SO did. From what I understand the admissions process is even tougher for vet school b/c of fewer schools to choose from. I vaguely recall a 3.8/3.9 gpa average for accepted vet students. Can anyone confirm or refute this?
     
  19. ar2388

    ar2388 rads resident
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    i love animals, but i could never be a vet because it requires putting animals to sleep.. i cant ever kill an animal...
     
  20. Depakote

    Depakote Pediatric Anesthesiologist
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    I've merged multiple threads on this issue into the existing Pre-Allo thread.
     
  21. diehlmg

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    Thank you all for your input, it really helps. Also, thank you to those who have merged the posts.
     

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