Experience: Variety vs. Depth

bipolarbear123

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Feb 18, 2012
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  1. Pre-Veterinary
    I will be applying for this upcoming cycle for the first time. This summer, I plan on doing essentially all of my veterinary experience hours. Up until now, I have accumulated a fair amount of various animal hours (farm animal, equine, small animal, wildlife); however, my vet experience has been limited to feral cats. Because my time this summer is focused on getting my hours, I really want to dedicate my hours to the animals I actually want to focus on (I want to do wildlife (DVM/MPH), specifically marine wildlife). There's a marine mammal rescue center by my house, which is where I want to spend all my time. However, I have also taken a job as a vet assist at a small animal clinic. I had zoo and shelter volunteer opportunities lined up, but honestly, I really just want to spend my time at the marine mammal center. That would mean all of my vet hours would come from marine mammals and small animals. In addition, I would only have about 800-900 hours by the time I send my app. Is my limited vet experience going to look bad, or is it okay since it will mostly be in the area I want to go into? I know adcoms want to see experience in different areas, but I already know what I want to do and would really like to focus on that. Does it help that my animal experience hours are diverse? Any advice would be helpful. Thanks!
     

    SocialStigma

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      It's definitely more important to have a lot of experience in your intended area rather than 100 h each from 5 different areas (imo). Variety is great and can only strengthen your application, but not at the cost of losing out on an opportunity to gain more experience in your desired field (unless you already had hundreds of hours).

      I'm biased though because I ONLY had vet experience in my field of interest (SA and avian/exotics).
       
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      SnowyRox

      Pennwe c/o 2016
      Jan 30, 2012
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        Your plan should be fine. I think your passion will shine through your app and you will love the summer spent on marine research.

        Just make sure there's a vet on staff at the marine center that you're working with or your hours won't count as vet experience.
         
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        Jamr0ckin

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          I had a very concentrated amount of hours in small animal, because that is my interest, but I was told multiple times I didn't have enough large animal experience. I think even if you got 20 hours, it would show that you at least have an idea about what is involved in different aspects, such as large animal.
           

          bipolarbear123

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          Feb 18, 2012
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            Your plan should be fine. I think your passion will shine through your app and you will love the summer spent on marine research.

            Just make sure there's a vet on staff at the marine center that you're working with or your hours won't count as vet experience.

            There is a full-time vet on staff; however, it's not enough to just have a vet on staff, right? You need to actually be supervised by the vet?
             

            bipolarbear123

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              I had a very concentrated amount of hours in small animal, because that is my interest, but I was told multiple times I didn't have enough large animal experience. I think even if you got 20 hours, it would show that you at least have an idea about what is involved in different aspects, such as large animal.

              Yea, that's what I'm worried about. I do have a lot of hours with horses, but they're animal. Do they have to be vet to show that you understand what's involved in other areas?
               

              Fly Racing

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                Yea, that's what I'm worried about. I do have a lot of hours with horses, but they're animal. Do they have to be vet to show that you understand what's involved in other areas?

                I'd say you are fine unless this is the "strong" area of your app. If other areas are strong, your vet exp won't be scrutinized as hard. Actually, a good amount of marine will make you unique so long as you have a clear and legitimate plan with going into that specialty. In which case I'd strive for 100 small and if you can pull it off 40-50 in mixed large. Otherwise I think horse animal exp goes along way to show you are comfortable handling them even though you have no further interest in that specialty.
                 

                bipolarbear123

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                  I'd say you are fine unless this is the "strong" area of your app. If other areas are strong, your vet exp won't be scrutinized as hard. Actually, a good amount of marine will make you unique so long as you have a clear and legitimate plan with going into that specialty. In which case I'd strive for 100 small and if you can pull it off 40-50 in mixed large. Otherwise I think horse animal exp goes along way to show you are comfortable handling them even though you have no further interest in that specialty.

                  I feel comfortable with the rest of my stats; experience is definitely the weakest part about my app. I didn't want to make it weaker by obtaining most of my vet hours in one area.. but thanks for your input! I'm hoping it won't matter much.
                   

                  Tco87

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                    I've only talked to a few admissions officials, but they were fairly unanimous in wanting depth of experience in your area of interest to show that you REALLY understand what you're getting yourself into. While they do want to see variety, it's more to prove you realize vets can fill many roles and they don't just vaccinate kittens and puppies all day. I would definitely go to the marine mammal rescue if I were you. Can you shadow a large animal vet or equine vet for just a day or two? Even thought that's a limited number of hours, I think it would be very helpful for you. And 800-900 hours should be enough.
                     

                    that redhead

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                      I know adcoms want to see experience in different areas, but I already know what I want to do and would really like to focus on that.

                      Some schools want to you do this kind of thing, where you focus your experience in your area of interest. The thing is, so many people change their mind, even in vet school. I came into vet school wanting to do lab animal, and I haven't changed my mind and don't intend to. But that's because I have experience in a lot of other fields of vet med and instead of saying, "Well, I just like this one so I'm only going to focus on it", I can say, "Well I've tried a, b, c, d etc and I like lab animal best." You can do what you want, of course, and if you'll be happiest at the marine mammal place, go for it. But I think it's worth it to consider adding some hours from other places like large animal or zoo, just to diversify what you've got to offer.
                       

                      JoAnna423

                      NCSU c/o 2017!!!!
                      Jan 10, 2012
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                        Everyone stats of vet hours are so varied...its hard to say what is best and what is not...knowing people personally and also looking at "successful applicant stats" thread on here you can see that...it goes from thousands of hours in 4-5 areas to just a few hundred in one. All depends on the school, the cycle, etc...I think your plan is fine...and being someone who is interested in zoo/exotics also I can say that it is harder to get vet experience in this area versus other interest, there just arent a HUGE number of vets/opportunities in the zoo field to work with...and I think vet schools know that.

                        Also I have been told by numerous vets (one of which was on VMRCVM admission committee) that understanding the RELATIONSHIP between all different fields is just as important...if you are interested in exotics but didnt get a lot of vet hours in them you can use your PS to explain how experience with other species has related to your understand of veterinary medicine as a whole and tie it in with your interest. :D
                         

                        RadRadTerp

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                          I ONLY worked with small animals prior to vet school because I was working full-time in a small animal clinic and animal shelter. The only large animal experience I could list was that my family has a farm in their home country where they have chickens, sheep, and pigs, but I only added that to my PS and not much else. I think you can make up some loss of diversity by having solid scores on the GRE, good GPA, and research experience.
                           

                          NStarz

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                            And just an anecdote to add, I got into 5 schools and turned down 4 interviews without a lick of large animal experience. I had 1 day shadowing an equine vet, and the rest of my experience was in small animal (though varied small animal--GP, ER, specialty, shelter). If you have a well-rounded and solid application, I think the LA experience matters a bit less than for someone who is trying to prove themselves to the profession because of low numbers.
                             

                            moosenanny

                            UC DAVIS class of 2014!!!
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                              If you are applying to Davis, I think having more depth in your intended area of interest is best. For specific other schools though (namely Mizzou), it is better to have 100 hours in SA, food animal, and equine (that's how you get maximal points in their system). So, varies by school - but all you can really do is get the most experience/hours you can and portray them well on your application.
                               

                              bipolarbear123

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                              Feb 18, 2012
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                              1. Pre-Veterinary
                                Everyone stats of vet hours are so varied...its hard to say what is best and what is not...knowing people personally and also looking at "successful applicant stats" thread on here you can see that...it goes from thousands of hours in 4-5 areas to just a few hundred in one. All depends on the school, the cycle, etc...I think your plan is fine...and being someone who is interested in zoo/exotics also I can say that it is harder to get vet experience in this area versus other interest, there just arent a HUGE number of vets/opportunities in the zoo field to work with...and I think vet schools know that.

                                Also I have been told by numerous vets (one of which was on VMRCVM admission committee) that understanding the RELATIONSHIP between all different fields is just as important...if you are interested in exotics but didnt get a lot of vet hours in them you can use your PS to explain how experience with other species has related to your understand of veterinary medicine as a whole and tie it in with your interest. :D

                                Good idea! It has definitely been a struggle to find a center that focuses on marine wildlife and conducts research as well (in my area), so that's a great tip!
                                 

                                bipolarbear123

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                                1. Pre-Veterinary
                                  If you are applying to Davis, I think having more depth in your intended area of interest is best. For specific other schools though (namely Mizzou), it is better to have 100 hours in SA, food animal, and equine (that's how you get maximal points in their system). So, varies by school - but all you can really do is get the most experience/hours you can and portray them well on your application.

                                  Davis is my first choice (IS), which is why I was a little concerned, because I know my experience is minimal compared to the average applicant. Besides hours, my app is pretty strong (good GPA, GRE, research experience). I'm also looking at UF and Cornell; do you know what is better for them?
                                   

                                  moosenanny

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                                    Davis is my first choice (IS), which is why I was a little concerned, because I know my experience is minimal compared to the average applicant. Besides hours, my app is pretty strong (good GPA, GRE, research experience). I'm also looking at UF and Cornell; do you know what is better for them?

                                    No, sorry - I only applied to four schools, and only truly know the specifics for those. But if Davis is your first choice, I would focus on doing what is best for them (meaning, more depth in your area of interest, but an overall expression throughout your application and interview that you understand the many facets of the profession, are willing to learn a ton about non-marine mammals throughout school, etc.).
                                     
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