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Factors when picking a school

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by whyrightmeow, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. WildZoo

    WildZoo Illegal in all 50
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    I don't know that I would necessarily extend any ill feeling towards the current AVMA towards SAVMA (though I do think the policies at your school seem a little unreasonable, that is the fault of your chapter, not SAVMA as a whole). SAVMA should be functioning to support clubs and student involvement. Things like SAVMA Symposium are networking opportunities, and your school chapter should be providing resources to help students attend. And I think students being involved in that kind of stuff is the only way we have any hope of changing things at the AVMA level in the future. It's not like you can have any say in all of the issues of accreditation and class sizes if you're not involved.
     
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  3. WildZoo

    WildZoo Illegal in all 50
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    I may have my own biases because I'm involved in our SAVMA chapter, and while we're pretty poor compared to some at other schools, we do offer scholarships for travel/lodging for symposium, and assistance with students wanting to attend other conferences where we can.

    I honestly don't know how much each SAVMA chapter individually has contact with the AVMA. They should have a liaison with the state VMA (ours has such a position but gets mostly radio silence from the other end), but imagine any contact with the AVMA is in the hands of the national SAVMA leadership most of the time (though our presidents and delegates did attend the AVMA conference a couple weeks ago). I do know that the concerns of debt and new schools, etc have been topics of discussion at previous SAVMA president and delegate meetings.

    (My apologies for the further derailment lol)
     
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  4. awesomenessity

    awesomenessity UCVM 2020
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    > at one of the Canadas

    :rofl:

    Yes SAR, @AussieBorderCollie and I are at UCVM (Calgary)! I'll make a pros/cons list and post it :)
     
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  5. SkiOtter

    SkiOtter c/o 2022
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    Is it not true though
     
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  6. LyraGardenia

    LyraGardenia Kansas State c/o 2020
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    Just thought I'd update some of my previous K-State info while I'm here:

    • As of this fall we're adding a clinical skills class every semester before 4th year, which replaces the outside mentorships previous classes had to do. Unfortunately my class and c/o 2019 don't get that and still have to do the mentorships, so I won't be able to comment on how useful the class is, but it should be a really big improvement IMO. The one downside is the clinical skills class will meet Friday mornings after the first year exam period, so the majority of exams first year will be at 8 am (for my class most were at 9 -- it's surprising how big of a difference that hour makes!), which takes away some of the free time we had after exams. However, if you don't have an elective Friday afternoon you'd still have the afternoon free.
    • The library is open until midnight Sunday through Thursday now, so that's nice. It closes at 6 Friday and Saturday and doesn't open until 1pm Sunday, but most people don't want to study Friday or Saturday night or Sunday morning anyway. (And the lecture halls and labs are still open 24/7).
    • I started watching the lecture recordings last semester, and I can confirm they're super helpful!
     
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  7. WeimMama

    WeimMama RUSVM c/o 2018
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    Yup I'm at Ross... when I need to procrastinate studying for finals this week I'll make a list :)
     
    #1056 WeimMama, Aug 6, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
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  8. mht2k3

    mht2k3 PennVet c/o 2021
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    might make sense to just put the doc into google docs and allow for people to edit it themselves. that way you wouldn't have to keep uploading new ones and copying down all the new info.
     
  9. SkiOtter

    SkiOtter c/o 2022
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    Maybe bats wants to keep herself useful

    That's why my mom never told my dad the steps the Internet people have her to correctly reset the router for a solid year :laugh:
     
  10. batsenecal

    batsenecal U of I c/o 2021
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    I'm honestly not very good with Google stuff like that. If someone wants to try to set one up, I'm game!
     
  11. Elkhart

    Elkhart SDN Gold Donor
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    Here's everything copied into a Google Doc. The formatting is a little bit off (I'll fix that), but it should be available for everyone to view and edit/add to freely.

    Factors When Picking A School

    ETA: Hopefully, it's a bit more readable now. Currently adding Lyra's updated information.
     
    #1060 Elkhart, Aug 7, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
  12. batsenecal

    batsenecal U of I c/o 2021
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    Like a boss
     
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  13. Elkhart

    Elkhart SDN Gold Donor
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    :laugh: :naughty:

    I also just fixed the headings, so now you can use the document outline view on the left side of the screen to jump straight to the pros or cons of any specific school that you wish without having to Ctrl+F or scroll through all 76 pages.
     
  14. LyraGardenia

    LyraGardenia Kansas State c/o 2020
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    It looks great, Sandy! I think using a Google doc was suggested back when bats made the Word doc, but no one was sure how to do it without using their personal Google account with their full name.
     
  15. imdyinscoob

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    I’m from Texas but am gonna graduate undergrad from a school in Illinois, anyone know if I would qualify for IS at U of I? What’s considered being a resident and what isn’t is kind of confusing to me
     
  16. LyraGardenia

    LyraGardenia Kansas State c/o 2020
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    You'll have to check the school's website or contact them to find out, but generally just being there for school doesn't change your residency.
     
  17. greeneyegal92

    greeneyegal92 c/o 2022!!
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    I'm from Illinois and it's not easy for out of state individuals to gain residency. According to VMCAS (and many vet programs) you'd be considered a Texas resident unless you have gotten married in Illinois or proved you moved here for a reason other than school. Doesn't hirt to call and clarify though with the professionals, hope this helps! :)
     
  18. ChoopLoops

    ChoopLoops NCSU c/o 2022 :)

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    Why isn't this a sticky pinned thread anymore?
     
  19. cdoconn

    cdoconn Cucumber with anxiety
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    It got put in the Compendium of all things Pre-Vet thread.

    It got to the point where there were so many threads stickied it wasn’t helpful anymore
     
  20. ChoopLoops

    ChoopLoops NCSU c/o 2022 :)

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    WOAH. Hadn't seen that thread. Thanks!
     
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  21. ziggyandjazzy

    ziggyandjazzy Oregon State c/o 2022

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    I don't know if I should start a new thread or just post this here.

    How important is it that the school you go to has the specialty/specialties you might be interested in pursuing? For instance, I am interested in specializing and have a few in mind, but don't have that completely figured out yet. I'm interested in neurology, ortho, lab animal, etc. Should a school's staff/rotations/caseload influence my decision at all? For instance, if you are very interested in a specialty like neurology but your top choice school doesn't have a neurologist or a neurology rotation, should that worry you? If so, how much of an issue is it? If not, why not? Thanks!!
     
  22. WildZoo

    WildZoo Illegal in all 50
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    I think at the end of the day you have to consider the financials first, and then look at things like that. If the cost of attendance is really close for two schools, and one has a better caseload for the specialty you're interested in, yeah, that's a consideration. But also remember people's interests change during school. So you don't want to go an extra $50k in debt for a specific specialty and then later realize that it's not what you want to do.

    Wherever you go you can find externships, do a rotation at another school, or get other experiences to enhance the learning you get from the school, which is going to likely be a lot cheaper as well (unless, like I said before, the cost of attendance is really close).
     
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  23. ziggyandjazzy

    ziggyandjazzy Oregon State c/o 2022

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    I should've specified. The financial piece would likely be negligible between schools. But other factors come into play such as geographical location (closeness to family, ability of SO to find a job, political climate). So, say school A is preferred by me, my family, and SO and is approximately the same cost as school B but doesn't have the specialties, what would you do? I guess it may come down to weighing what is important. I guess I am just trying to find how important it is to have the specialty you want to pursue at your school. Do most people have time and the availability to do externships? Do most people not even get depth in certain specialties until their internship year? For instance, it seems like a school wouldn't have longer than a 2 week rotation in neurology. If I didn't go to a school with a neurologist or neurology rotations, could I do a two week externship to sort of "make up" for that gap?
     
  24. WildZoo

    WildZoo Illegal in all 50
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    Certainly. I think the only thing you miss out on is the opportunity to mingle with clinicians regularly. Otherwise you can definitely make up for it in other ways. I think it also depends on the specialty.

    I'll use myself as an example. I went into school knowing I wanted to do zoo/wildlife medicine. I'm still on that track. I know at the very least I want to work with exotics in some capacity. So I would not have been willing to apply to a school that saw no exotics patients ever, and would have hesitated to apply to one that didn't have a zoo vet around somewhere. The zoo world is so small and so much about getting your foot in the door involves networking, it was important to me to be able to have those connections at my fingertips. This is with the caveat that I knew for some of the more pricey schools I applied to, I would be able to switch to in state tuition, so the cost difference would be offset to some extent. I also only applied to schools that were within driveable distance back home for me, because I wasn't willing to move too far away from my family.

    However, for some specialties, it really may not be as important. I don't know too much about neurology, so take it with a grain of salt, but it seems to me that it would be enough to supplement your experience during school (doing externships, rotations, etc), and to state that as your interest once you went on to doing your internship. I think that would be the time where it would be more important, rather than during school.

    Another factor is that you said you're not quite sure what specialty you're interested in. That complicates things as well. Money may not be a factor but it sounds like other important things are, and to me it seems they may be more important than having a specific specialty available, especially if you aren't even sure it's what you want to do.
     
  25. Lab Vet

    Lab Vet Resident, Laboratory Animal Medicine
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    Remember, OP- if you're interested in small animal specialty practice (cardio, neuro, surgery, internal medicine, etc.), internship precedes any residency you hope to claim. Small animal internships are traditionally focused on medicine, surgery, and emergency- with the potential to rotate through other services (i.e. neuro) for truncated blocks of time. Although having a strength in neuro (for example) during the veterinary school years can be helpful (in introducing you to the specialty, developing preliminary connections), the heft of your preparation and letters will come from your internship year. The onus will be on you to seek those specialists out (on top of an already busy caseload), take on additional responsibility, and prove your commitment to your specialty of interest. If you're in the midst of internship year applying for the neuro residency match, and don't have at least 2 solid letters from boarded neurologists, your application is dead in the water. This goes for any specialty. It is a very, very competitive world out there. Much as I hate to admit it, much of matching to an academic position is tied to 'who you know.' Yes, your grades and experience need to be up there. But, all things being equal, a program director will preferentially take a candidate who arrives with a recommendation in hand (better yet, personal phone call) from faculty in the specialty that he or she personally knows (i.e. neurologist from UF recommending an intern to the neuro program at UC Davis). It matters- don't let anyone convince you that it doesn't. As far as your vet school years, your focus should be on becoming an entry level DVM, not a neurologist (or any other specialist, for that matter). That's what residency is for- to turn you into said specialist. Yes, connections in the vet school years can help you get your foot in the door, but it's senior level faculty from further training that will help you walk through it..

    Lab animal and path are a little bit different, given that an internship year isn't a black and white requirement to entering residency training. For these fields, your experience and devotion to the field are paramount. Just as described above, you need letters from faculty who are well known in the field and can vouch for you in a very competitive pool of applicants. Completing externships during fourth year can help, but these are typically for 2-4 weeks at a time. It's difficult for faculty at an away rotation to get to know you very well in two-four weeks, especially when you may be working mainly with the residents. In many ways, the Match is a Catch-22. You do the best you can in trying to maximize your experience and connections (while learning about the field in the process- this really should be the main goal), but you can't do it all (i.e. visit 10 places).

    Which vet school should you attend? First, the one that accepts you- that's the best school. Second, attend the school that provides you with solid training that will teach you to become the best entry level doctor you can be (curriculum structure should be considered here) at a reasonable cost. Third- here's where you can consider caseload in any given specialty (notice the priority- lower on the list). Come internship year, that specialty caseload becomes much more important, as does the time allotted to you to spend time in services other than ER, medicine, and surgery.

    There are several SDN posters that can speak to the nuances of advanced training in various fields:

    [email protected] can talk to you about the neuro match
    [email protected] can talk to you about the path residency process
    [email protected] can talk to you about the lab animal match (I'm currently in the midst of this process myself)

    Hope this is helpful.
     
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  26. LetItSnow

    LetItSnow Skipping the light fandango
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    @ziggyandjazzy

    Having access to those specialists your first 3 years can be a major foot forward. I know someone who wanted to do cardiology - she skipped class multiple days a week to just go hang out in cardiology in the teaching hospital. She spent pretty much three years a couple times a week hanging out there - she learned a ton, she became competent at multiple major procedures far, far ahead of anyone else at her stage of career, and she was a shoe-in for an internship and future cardio residency.

    Ditto for someone who wanted to do Ophtho.

    Ditto for someone who wanted to do Sx.

    I think if all other factors are equal, and you are certain about a future specialty, I might lean towards the place that has that specialty.

    That said, you'll be surprised how many people come thinking they're headed for one specialty and end up changing their mind - or even their species of interest.

    And, if those other factors are very important .... you can pursue any specialty coming out of any school. The degree to which you can't get a head start (say, from lack of that school having that specialist) just means you have to take it upon yourself to get the foundations of that knowledge down cold, and you need to seek outside places to start pursuing that interest.

    There really isn't a black/white right answer to this. You just have to weigh the factors and decide what matters to you. Being around the specialist - if you invest in that relationship, they're open to it, and you really really make good use of the time - can be huge. But not having them doesn't prevent you from pursuing it.

    As always, I think money should be the biggest factor (but I see you said that's equivalent across your choices).
     
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  27. vetmedhead

    vetmedhead Allied to the landslide
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    Semi on topic, but I am curious to hear thoughts from some current veterinarians about specialties that are being newly recognized. I know shelter medicine semi recently became something you can get boarded in under the ABVP, for example. I'm curious how fields of veterinary medicine that have historically not had board certifications approach the fact that their members can now theoretically become boarded in that area of medicine. Is it something that employers see immediate value in (to the point of, say, helping cover the costs of sitting for boards for current practitioners who would qualify and are interested in becoming boarded)? Or is it something that takes a while to embrace? Does instituting board certifications encourage the development of more and varied training programs for those interested in entering the field?

    I'll be the first to admit that I don't know very much about specialties/board certifications, but am admittedly curious to hear thoughts from others with much more knowledge than me
     
    #1076 vetmedhead, Jan 22, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2018
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  28. Lab Vet

    Lab Vet Resident, Laboratory Animal Medicine
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    Depends on the field. For some specialties (i.e. path), boards are absolutely required to bill yourself as a specialist in the area. You simply won't be hired_as a pathologist_without board certification. I can speak a bit for lab animal. Back in the day, it was possible to be hired into entry level lab animal jobs without board certification. This is still true today, but these positions are rare- few and far between. There are plenty of new, lab animal vets WITH board certification that are clamoring for these entry level jobs (those without boards are simply out-competed in the marketplace). If I'm not mistaken, the same goes for zoo medicine (@pinkpuppy9 can tell you more). As for the small animal specialties, again I think the answer depends. I was just speaking with a boarded criticalist on my radiology block who is now completing his second set of boards in diagnostic imaging. He lamented the fact that, aside from academic institutions (and large private practices), practices aren't necessarily up for hiring a specialist in critical care (@LetItSnow knows way more about this field than I do, given his background in ER- definitely out of my depths here). If you're an exotics person, I would hazard a guess that AVBP certification in avian or small exotic mammals could help you with a job (I have it on good authority that fish/aquatics will also be coming down the pike as a recognized AVBP specialty soon as well), but NOT having AVBP certification doesn't prevent you from practicing exotic animal medicine. Cardio, neuro? You don't learn how to do hemilaminectomies in vet school (although you'll watch them), so I doubt that you can bill yourself as one without the training a residency provides. Surgery is sort of a middle ground. Plenty of non-boarded surgeons perform surgery in veterinary medicine. Some GPs (with a boat load of CE) perform CCL repairs, foregin body removals, etc. The great majority of GPs out there performing spays aren't boarded surgeons. The decision to go for advanced training really depends on what you want to do AND where you want to work. Want to work in academic medicine (as a veterinarian in a teaching hospital)?- boards are likely required (or the expectation that you will achieve board certification following initial hire is written into your contract). Lab animal? It's becoming harder and harder to find employment without ACLAM certification- very hard to compete in a market with a bunch of boarded people. Path- absolutely. Other small animal specialties...depends. Faculty at your veterinary school will be able to provide you with lots of good advice regarding these questions. As for the finances of board certification, I think the answer also depends, but it's probably safe to assume that those fees are on you to handle (the applicant).
     
    #1077 Lab Vet, Jan 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
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  29. vetmedhead

    vetmedhead Allied to the landslide
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    Thanks for the thoughtful and thorough response! Boarding has always been mysterious to me and I keep wondering when someone is going to talk to us about the process in general in my vet school classes lol
     
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  30. WildZoo

    WildZoo Illegal in all 50
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    The answer is never lol
    Or likely never
    They may touch on it but there probably isn't going to be much of an in depth discussion of it in a formal way. You're better served asking faculty about it.
     
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  31. ziggyandjazzy

    ziggyandjazzy Oregon State c/o 2022

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    Very helpful, thank you. I had gathered the difference in certain fields with regards to needing an internship vs not. I just wasn't really sure whether your leg up in certain specialties that require an internship came more from vet school or your internship year and you (as well as @LetItSnow and @WildZoo) helped me get some info about that. I am not sure on the specialty I want to pursue but I am confident I will want to pursue one, if possible. I've worked in neuroscience research so on one hand, I really like the neuro aspect and on the other, the lab animal aspect. I am the sort of person who is curious/passionate about a lot of topics so it can make it hard to narrow down exactly what I want to do if that makes sense. The vast majority of my hours are in SA GP and I haven't been able to shadow a specialist due to my location (although my family dog sees a neurologist). I know some fields that I won't want to go into (LA, optho, dentistry, etc) yet I have a long list of ones that do interest me. I think it will take me a year or two of vet school to sort of find my niche, if that is possible and makes sense. Neuro is definitely high on the list but it sounds like it won't be a deal breaker if I wanted to pursue it and really put the work in. Correct me if I am wrong but both Oregon State and Mizzou have strong lab animal science programs.

    Also, when you mention curriculum structure, how does one go about finding that? For instance, I know Mizzou has a 2-2 program, OSU has a quasi-tracking program, and WSU doesn't do tracking. Beyond this, what do you mean? In terms of didactic vs PBL? Something else?
     
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  32. vetmedhead

    vetmedhead Allied to the landslide
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    I've never been tremendously interested in most of the various specialties, and I am lucky to have a lot of close friends in or currently pursuing the fields I am more interested in learning more about. I'll have to find some brains on faculty to pick later this semester though, as it's never a bad thing to learn more about these things, especially if a class later on down the road sparks an interest in me.
     
  33. pinkpuppy9

    pinkpuppy9 Illinois c/o 2019
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    Can confirm. Older unboarded vets aren't retiring, new boarded vets are having trouble getting jobs. You usually have to start out in a small/unaccredited zoo if you're not boarded but there's also a lot of 'right time, right place' involved. Also connections play a massive role in zoo med. I'm sure they do in all specialties, but I'm not sure if they do to the degree they do in zoo med.

    We've gotten house officers to give us talks on the match, internships/residencies, and career paths. Otherwise we wouldn't get the info beyond researching on our own. Perhaps it's something your school/clubs could put together.
     
    #1082 pinkpuppy9, Jan 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
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  34. LyraGardenia

    LyraGardenia Kansas State c/o 2020
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    Interesting, we've had at least 3 talks on internships/residencies, and probably more that I didn't go to. Granted most were club meetings or lunch and learns rather than part of a class, but it's almost to the point that I'm like "umm, can we get more information about applying and interviewing for jobs for those of us who DON'T want to specialize??"

    I haven't heard much discussion as far as should you go for board certification or not, because that's going to vary depending on what specialty you want to go into and your goals, so kind of a lot to get into in an hour talk. But I feel pretty well-informed about the benefits of doing a internship (even if you don't want to specialize), how the match works, what you need to do to be competitive, what the hours are like during an internship, etc.
     
  35. Lab Vet

    Lab Vet Resident, Laboratory Animal Medicine
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    Agreed. Hit those people up personally! Folks will be more than happy to speak with you about their career trajectory- you just need to show an interest! Also, I'd add the following- talk to folks at different stages of their careers (i.e. resident vs. junior faculty vs. senior faculty). Each of these individuals will have a unique take on the process. By speaking to all of them, you'll get a well-rounded opinion as to what's involved in a trip down a particular career path. Better yet- talk to multiple people within these categories. Don't wait for a formal seminar to get the information you're after- seek out this information yourself :)
     
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  36. WildZoo

    WildZoo Illegal in all 50
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    Oh I was definitely referring to classes. We have a success/wellness/etc class where it seems like something like that would fit right in, so maybe they do touch on it third year, but so far everything on the business side is waaaaay geared towards people who want to work in private practice, particularly those who want to own a practice.

    I think a couple of clubs have had meetings on the subject of internships but I don't think they got into residencies and board certification.
     
  37. Lab Vet

    Lab Vet Resident, Laboratory Animal Medicine
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    All good questions. As for curricular structure, yes, on all counts- is the structure predominantly traditional lecture or PBL? I'll use my own school as an example. NCSU offers a lecture-based curriculum, with a solid component of PBL sprinkled throughout the first three years (fourth year is PBL, all the time). I would not have done well with a 100% PBL curriculum, so this combination worked for me. Other folks straight up hate sitting through lectures. For those peeps, Western or Cornell's predominantly PBL curriculum may be a better option. Tracking- yes, it's something to consider. As I mentioned before, my personal opinion is that vet school trains you to be an entry-level generalist. Unfortunately, knowledge in vet med is expanding at a breakneck pace. As such, limited licensure (i.e. only licensed in small animal, not large or equine) has become a serious conversation among the powers-that-be. Tracking can be beneficial- it allows you to obtain focused experience in a specific area of vet med. On the other hand, how do you know you wouldn't like other areas of vet med to which you haven't been exposed? I was torn between two institutions when deciding on vet school- NCSU and WSU. NCSU tracks, WSU does not. Both are excellent schools, but differed quite a bit with respect to clinical focus. I chose NCSU, and am happy with that choice. Although I've enjoyed tracking in lab animal medicine, I also made sure that my fourth year schedule included a good mix of small and large animal rotations. I would have enjoyed WSU's generalist curriculum as well, for different reasons. MANY people change their minds re: specialty choice during the vet school years. I encourage you not to shut out any opportunities at this stage in the game. You might surprise yourself.

    Mizzou has a research-heavy, well known residency in lab animal medicine. As for Mizzou's lab animal offerings in the pre-clinical/clinical years of vet school, I can't say [Mizzou rejected me outright ;)]. I know quite a bit about the Oregon Consortium residency in lab animal medicine, but can't speak to the curricular offerings during vet school. If you have questions about NCSU's lab animal curriculum, I can talk extensively about my experience. Other than that, I'm just not privy to insider information about other schools. I wouldn't worry about residency placement at this stage. A LOT has to happen between your first day at vet school and application to the Match. There are many factors at play. If you're serious (about any specialty), bust your hump to get experience and make connections in that field- both on campus, and off. Programs will expect to see evidence of commitment, whatever your interest. Tracking vs. non? In my opinion, not all that important. ALL accredited vet schools will give you a solid education in the basics, which is what you need. Learn how to be a doctor before learning how to be a specific type of doctor. It's the mentality and problem solving structure that will carry you to where you want to be.
     
    #1086 Lab Vet, Jan 23, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  38. Lab Vet

    Lab Vet Resident, Laboratory Animal Medicine
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    LIS makes a good point. I have several classmates who put classwork (and even grades) on the back burner in order to spend time in the teaching hospital or offsite gaining experience. I, personally, could not have managed this. It was rare for me to miss class. If I did, I was sick and on death's door. Attending lecture and taking notes in real time was (and still is) an important part of my learning strategy. Ditching class to spend time in the teaching hospital (or elsewhere) would have been disastrous for me. I would recommend holding off on this option until you figure out how you best learn in veterinary school, and whether or not you can handle skipping classes. Make no mistake about it- grades and objective measures of performance (class rank- even more than grades) matter in the calculus of the Match. At some point, squabbling over grades is like splitting hairs (i.e. a 3.7 vs. a 3.9). That being said, there's a gigantic difference between a 2.9 and a 3.5. I don't necessarily agree with the emphasis on grades (stellar grades doesn't necessarily equal a fantastic clinician), but it's simply a fact that these metrics are used to make first cuts in a very competitive admissions process (not unlike vet school). To succeed in the residency/internship game, you need to achieve in multiple dimensions- grades, experience, and letters. If you can handle skipping class to do what this individual did (spend lots of time with clinical faculty during your pre-clinical years), by all means consider that a viable option. I would strongly caution against doing so until you have an honest idea of your academic abilities. It is very hard to repair a damaged GPA. GPA is forever, especially when it comes to your clinical education. Even if you don't skip class to hang out with faculty and house staff, LIS raises a good point. There are certainly benefits to having multiple faculty within your area of interest at your home vet school. I did, and took full advantage of that during all four years. I just offer the following caution- don't get so caught up in the process of becoming a XXXXXologist, that you miss the process of first becoming a veterinarian.
     
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  39. LetItSnow

    LetItSnow Skipping the light fandango
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    Not to take away from Lab Vet's good points, because there were a ton of them. But for a difference perspective, I <really> like tracking.

    1) I don't think it means you don't get exposed to other things. I did my equine and LA hospital shifts like any other student. I went through the whole "how to PE a cow". I did all the same fundamental classes. If none of that was going to pique my interest, then forcing a generalist education vs tracking sure wasn't.

    2) Tracking can give you a small head start. Not that you can't catch up if you don't track - it's not that big of a deal. But, for instance, I had access to a 2-week ultrasound rotation as a SA tracking person that other students didn't. Going straight into ER work my comfort level with ultrasound right out of school was huge. There were certain classes that I also had access to for better exposure to more clinical problems; I was really grateful for that.

    I personally think tracking is a pretty good thing. ($$ are still the more important thing, though.)
     
  40. kcoughli

    kcoughli Lab Animal Resident
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    Agreed. Not to mention that even if you're not a fan of the idea of tracking, there's probably always going to be the option of a "Mixed" track where you can do both LA and SA and at that point its essentially no longer tracking.

    As an aside, I tracked mixed (for reasons I won't get into right now) and I got into the ultrasound rotation at UMN :)
     
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  41. ziggyandjazzy

    ziggyandjazzy Oregon State c/o 2022

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    I think tracking would be good for me because I know I do not want to do large animal. Of course I will take classes with it, but I wouldn't have to take as many with a program that allows for tracking.
     
  42. ChoopLoops

    ChoopLoops NCSU c/o 2022 :)

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    Totally off topic, but can one of you guys explain to me what lab animal medicine actually is? I know you have to have a vet on site for animal-based research, but I assume there's more to it than that, and it seems like a really popular field in this forum.
     
  43. kcoughli

    kcoughli Lab Animal Resident
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    Man I'm not really even sure where to start. In my mind, the job of the lab animal veterinarian is half regulatory (ensuring that the research being proposed is not creating unnecessary stress, harm, and discomfort to the research animals) and half just being a veterinarian and caring for animals who happen to be used in research. Basically, treating and managing the health and well being of animals used for scientific research.

    In practice it comes down to a lot more than that, much of which depends on the institution. There are laws and regulations set forth by various governmental agencies (USDA etc) that require a veterinarian to be on IACUC boards (institutional animal care and use committees - all animal research has to be approved by such a committee before it can be performed) and to be available to treat the animals.

    I could probably go a lot further in depth but I'm a bit off my game right now.

    Perhaps @Lab Vet wants to chime in

    Edit:
    Examples of things I've done as a lab animal vet: Stitching up baboon fingers because two neighbors got in a fight and one bit the finger of the other. Managing diabetes in an old, fat macaque by training him to allow us to check glucose levels and administer insulin. Checking mouse cages and separating the aggressive mouse because he'd beaten up his buddies leaving them wounded and informing the lab that the wounded mice needed to heal before being used because they weren't "normal" animals at that point. Clipping mice toenails and applying topical antibiotic to try to stop the ulcerative dermatitis lesion that kept getting bigger on the mouse's back. Providing SQ fluids, hay, and critical care to a bunch of post-op rabbits that weren't eating and being thrilled to come in the next day to see a giant pile of feces beneath their cages.
     
    #1092 kcoughli, Jan 24, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
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  44. ChoopLoops

    ChoopLoops NCSU c/o 2022 :)

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    Wow. That actually sounds *really* cool. And it sounded like its a competitive enough field that you need to be boarded to get a job?

    This is something I'm excited about vet school - learning about all the different careers I might be interested in outside of GP/private practice. :)

    Thanks so much for responding @kcoughli !
     
  45. LetItSnow

    LetItSnow Skipping the light fandango
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    @kcoughli
     
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  46. LetItSnow

    LetItSnow Skipping the light fandango
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    Oops. She already replied. Sigh. NINJA KCOUGHLI!
     
  47. kcoughli

    kcoughli Lab Animal Resident
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    I know right?! I think it's really cool. At this point it's not as bad as zoo med but similar in the fact that a decent number of non-boarded vets are working in the field, but it is becoming more and more difficult to get a job in the field without being boarded or "board-eligible." I think being boarded or board-eligible are "preferred" qualifications (if not mandatory) on most if not all of the job postings I've seen in the past year or so.
     
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  48. Ashgirl

    Ashgirl Pokemon Academy c/o 2018!
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    Tracking definitely has it benefits, especially if you already know what you want. I wish we offered tracking (Equine was roughhhhhhhh), or at least an option to eliminate a few that might not be necessary.

    On the other hand, there are things I didn't expect to learn on FA that will carry over to my SA career, plus my LA/Equine rotation helped with NAVLE things. But more importantly, at my particular school, I'm fine we don't track because I still had 10 weeks of electives and 16 weeks of off-time to "track." You may have less equine at another school by tracking, but I enjoyed the extra elective/extern time to really figure out what you like (Or at least I loved/appreciated my 12 weeks of ECC anyway :love:).
     
  49. Lab Vet

    Lab Vet Resident, Laboratory Animal Medicine
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    Tracking works differently at different schools. I have friends who are 'small animal focused' at NCSU who are not taking ANY food animal/equine rotations throughout fourth year. To me, this is a real shame. We did have basic large animal skills/husbandry/production classes throughout years 1-3 (required), but I'd like to see at least one required rotation in a field that isn't your area of interest. There is a lot to be said for stepping out of your comfort zone and engaging in a different facet of the profession. I quite enjoy large animal/production medicine. The production disciplines share much in common with lab animal. Had I been younger, I would have seriously considered entering the field as a large animal practitioner. Another thing that sort of bugs me about tracking (at least at our school), is that that the large animal folks are required to take multiple small animal rotations in our companion animal hospital. How is that fair to the large animal peeps? If large animal focused peeps are required to take small animal rotations, I think that the opposite should also be true as well- small animal folks should have to take at least one rotation in an area not their discipline. Just my opinion.

    Students at NCSU aren't barred from taking rotations based upon their 'track' (we call them focus areas), with the exception of zoo folks. Many of the zoo rotations have prerequisite barriers to entry that a student wouldn't have obtained prior to fourth year had they not been a zoo focused student. Some of the advanced equine stuff (like podiatry or equine ortho) may also be restricted, not sure. Other than that, rotations are fair game. I'll be completing a rotation in equine medicine, and I'm a lab animal student. Same goes for my rotations in swine medicine and ruminant health management. If a food animal person was really into ultrasound, they'd be welcome to take our rotation in the small animal hospital (I'm just not sure how much they'd get out of it). For the newer students on this board, schools will require a set number of 'core' clinical blocks that ALL students, regardless of track, are required to take. These differ by program, but typically include things like radiology/DI, anesthesia, clin/anatomic path, etc. The remainder of your schedule you'll fill out with general electives and rotations required by your track. There are some blocks I'm super stoked I'm not required to take...like Therio (cringe- I've always hated repro, and any sort of ortho- because I"m simply not a fan).

    It's good to get a variety of respectful opinions on clinical year strategy, as you've seen here on this thread. One thing you should definitely ask various schools is the quantity of blocks allotted to extramurals and vacation. Why? Because these make a difference in preparing you for the match/jobs (whichever way you're going to go upon graduation). I met a student from Ohio State this summer who was granted 12 weeks of extramurals in her clinical year to complete off-site experiences in her discipline of choice. NCSU comes nowhere near that with respect to offsite flexibility- we get 6 weeks, max, for credit. I mentioned vacation, as we have an additional 8 weeks to use for extramural experiences as we see fit. There's a catch to doing that, though. For those individuals completing experiences in practice (using vacation blocks), NCSU's malpractice insurance won't cover you on a vacation block as it's not being completed for NCSU credit. AVMA PLIT must be in place BEFORE starting, should you want to go the vacation for experience route. It goes without saying that said student wouldn't receive credit for those blocks, but nobody really cares about that. You don't need to have earned school credit in order to list and experience on your CV/resume. Just something to consider. You want to have a decent idea of the flexibility alotted to you in fourth year upon starting the curriculum. It matters with respect to planning.
     
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  50. Lab Vet

    Lab Vet Resident, Laboratory Animal Medicine
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    Lab animal vets (LAVs) juggle three major categories of responsibility: clinical medicine, regulatory oversight, and personnel/facility management. The relative contribution of each of these categories to a LAV's overall time budget will typically shift throughout his or her career. LAVs are essentially general practitioners for a subset of of the animal kingdom- those used in research. We're blessed as a discipline, as that subset contains a wide variety of critters, from traditional rodents, to equids, to large african lizards (my own research background), and beyond. The TYPE of medical interventions LAVs employ in research facilities depend on the species and nature of the project. Non-human primates receive individualized care, much like a dog or cat in private practice. Rodents are typically treated as populations. Here, the medical concerns become quite similar to those faced by a large/production animal vet. I learned a lot from my swine medicine block with respect to biosecurity that is directly applicable to lab animal. LAVs will also perform or assist on surgical procedures, the complexity of which depends on his/her comfort level. I know of at least one LAV double boarded through ACLAM and ACVS. This individual would be far more qualified than a general LAV on the surgical side. Typically, LAVs will perform general surgeries (like spays, neuters, mass removals) and assist with the design/execution of more complicated procedures (i.e. device implantation). Many lab animal residencies/positions are housed at HUMAN medical schools. As such, much of the research is being performed by human physicians. Some of these folks are top-flight surgeons. Before vet school, I was employed at a large, academic medical center by a human cardiothoracic (transplant) surgeon to head up his animal research. My boss had 10x the surgical ability of the lab animal vet employed by the facility. That being said, he still asked for the LAVs input with respect to animal specific anatomy, and the best drugs to use to achieve a safe outcome. This is one of many ways that LAVs and scientists collaborate to bring safe, ethical research outcomes to fruition.

    Regulatory oversight is the next sphere of responsibility, and @kcoughli touched on that above. This is a big part of a LAVs job. Combing through proposed animal studies (IACUC protocols) and assessing these for ethical animal use/research methods is one of the LAVs most important responsibilities. LAVs also advise scientists on which animals to use for a study, with respect to species and number. They are responsible for providing annual reports to institutional administrators with respect to animal use statistics/adverse events, and also report to various agencies within the US government. They must be on hand to field questions from government/agency inspectors, and are the end of the line when it comes to handling adverse events/poor outcomes. There's a fair bit of negotiating required in a LAV's job description. You have to be able to interact successfully with multiple types of people at different levels of the hierarchy, within and external to your institution.

    The final category of an LAVs responsibility falls to management- of people and facilities. LAVs are responsible for setting the per diem budgets paid by investigators to house their animals, fee-for-service offerings (i.e. surgical and anesthesia support), etc. They have input, with architects, into the design of new buildings that house animals (or the renovation of pre-existing facilities). They oversee large teams of other veterinarians, vet techs, animal care personnel, regulatory staff, and others. At the top of the lab animal chain, veterinarians are essentially running the show as far as animal research is concerned.

    This is just a brief overview of what LAVs do. The relative contribution of each of these categorical areas varies depending on career stage (junior vs. senior) and place of employment (contract vs. academia vs. government vs. industry). If you have further questions as to what LAVs do, feel free to post here, or, better yet, talk to these folks at your school. In all likelihood, they'd be more than happy to speak with you about their career trajectory and day to day responsibilities as a LAV. Thanks for your interest!
     
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  51. LetItSnow

    LetItSnow Skipping the light fandango
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    Why? Just because you say so?

    I didn't take "ANY" food animal/equine rotations throughout fourth year.

    So what? Why would I?

    What did I lose by doing so? I lost exposure to parts of medicine I already knew enough about to pass boards, in areas I will never practice. Fine by me.

    What did I gain by doing so? I gained more experience, was better prepared for the area I practice, and got to apply my tuition money to something that mattered to me.

    As long as a school is preparing a student to pass boards (the minimum bar we're all judged by), it makes absolutely no sense to me to say that it's a "real shame" a student doesn't take rotations outside their area of interest.

    It seems like you have a bias showing through here. Just because you enjoyed it doesn't mean everyone else should do it. And I think lab animal types have a bit of a broader spectrum to cover - that doesn't mean the rest of us should. It's just too costly to expect that anymore.

    Ok, but that's throwing the baby out with the bathwater. To me it sounds like what you're saying is that NCSU's LA track has problems. That doesn't mean tracking is broken. It's important to make that distinction.

    Anyway.

    I mean, I guess I just don't see your point. You think people should "step outside their comfort zone." Ok, great - I agree with that. But I think that a) there's a time and a place, and fourth year rotations isn't it, and b) people who DO think fourth year is a good time for it can take a mixed animal rotation and get a nice blend of all sorts of medicine.

    But why on earth would you want to force those of us who by fourth year are ready to drill down to spend our time learning about things we have no interest in (beyond the basics required for boarding)? The first three years are a great time to get exposure. Fourth year is a great time to really start narrowing your focus and learning to doctor the things you want to doctor.

    You need to consider cost. Why on earth would I want to pay for a two-week rotation in LA production medicine? I would have been furious if I had to do that. School is already stupid expensive.

    Just doesn't make any sense to me.

    True that. I think the more the better. But with the caveat that if a student wants to stay on campus, that's ok. All externships are not created equal, obviously.
     

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