Sep 8, 2019
Hello all,

Hoping to gain some insight here as I am just beginning my journey and am looking for some guidance as to which direction to point my feet in. (FYI: I am in Alberta, Canada)

My story: I have been passionate about vet med since I was a small child - the quintessential "I'm going to be a vet" kid. I worked at stables, exotic animal farms, kennels, etc all throughout high school, took (and did well in) all the required courses to apply for an animal science degree, then grade 12 hit, I succumbed to the pressures of "what if you do a degree in animal science/etc and don't get in to a DVM program"? - Long story short - I took the safe route. I initally started in a vet tech program, to try and stay within the realm of veterinary medicine, but quickly realized that I couldn't financially make it work knowing I would graduate and make $15/hour, so I transferred after my first year to university and graduated in 2013 with a BHSc in Medical Laboratory Science, started working in a hospital laboratory as a technologist (Hematology, Biochemistry, Transfusion medicine). For the past 6 years I've been working away, my job is stable, good pension, good benefits, well paid and low stress... but... not my passion.

I recently had my a-ha moment and have finally decided that I should try and do whatever I can to make my lifelong dream a reality, but am not sure how to proceed at this point. I am 30 years old, have been out of university for 6 years, and while my degree did give me the majority of the pre-requisites, I would need to take at least 2 more courses, and most likely re-take at least 2 courses which I didn't get good enough grades in (that's what I get for slacking in genetics and statistics...) My 4th year GPA was ~3.3... do vet schools look down upon "re-doing" courses and boosting GPA post-grad?). Has anyone decided to go this route post-graduation? What steps did you take to make it happen and what should I do to begin the process of making myself an attractive applicant? I do have the health care aspect - anything in the realm of lab I am obviously immensely comfortable with, bacteriology, cytology, hematological morphology, analytical/pre-analytical interferences and interpreting bloodwork. You would be surprised how similar the WBC morphologies of animals are to humans!

For info, I would hopefully be applying to UCVM in Calgary. I do own a horse, work with greyhound adoption, and also a potential internship opportunity working with wolves. I have a meeting with an equine vet and would definitely be pursuing shadowing with either my large animal vet or my small animal vet. My current job is shift/flexible hours so my plan would be to attempt to meet admission requirements over the next 1-2 years before applying.

These are my current musings... I would love any and all feedback!
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West Coast Best Coast c/o 2022
2+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2015
Veterinary Student
Hey, you do seem like you have a solid plan, and I agree with getting some shadowing experience while still working your current job. I also think that going back to school at 30 is a lesser deal for you than it would be for someone in the states, due to the (relatively) low cost of tuition for UCVM. My vet school class has someone who started at 40, and the class below me has several in their 30s. It really isn't uncommon to start out of your 20s.

Since you would be applying specifically to UCVM, it might be worth it for you to post in the UCVM/WCVM 2024 thread since quite a few UCVM students are active there and can give you specific advice. :) I never applied there so I really am not all familiar with the intricacies of their application.
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7+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2012
Right Coast
I’m not at all familiar with vet school admissions processes in Canada but I’m a career-changer/older student as well. I’m 31 and this is my first application cycle and I can tell you what’s worked for me.

Personally I chose to stay in my former career (engineering) while I gained veterinary experience and took classes to apply to vet school. Unlike you though, I had to take pretty much all of my prereqs because my original degree didn’t require chemistry or biology courses. I’m not sure how the student loan and tuition rates look in Canada but I was able to cash pay my prereqs and not take on student loans so I’ll be going into vet school in a financially sound place (if accepted).

Also like you, my job was somewhat flexible. I was able to get a weekend job in a small animal general practice, which I worked for 4.5 years and gained a ton of hours. Later I switched to small animal ER on weekends and got quite a few hours there. I also found an avian, exotics, and wildlife hospital that let me shadow, started riding along with two equine/large animal vets, and volunteered in a low cost clinic. I’ve used vacation time from work and sacrificed many weekends to get these hours but it’s been worth it, though tiring at times! I think it’s definitely doable and I wouldn’t even consider leaving your job until you have a nice chunk of vet hours under your belt and are confident it’s the right career for you. Or do what I did and stay until you start vet school.

I would reach out to UCVM admissions to see if they can guide you in terms of the schooling you need to complete. Are your classes old enough that you need to repeat some? Is your GPA on par with accepted students? If not, how do they recommend you go about fixing that (repeating courses vs taking additional upper division biology courses)?

Good luck to you! Feel free to reach out any time if you need moral support from another non-trad :)