How many hours of shadowing to get a "feel" for large animal?

wheelin2vetmed

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I've been shadowing a small animal vet, but after speaking with some admissions committees (even though I don't know how realistic large animal will be from a wheelchair), I feel I should shadow a large animal vet.

I went to a large animal surgical center that does horses, pigs, etc, and dropped off my personal statement and talked with them for awhile. I'll be following up on Monday and will hopefully get in there pronto.

How many hours would you consider sufficient to put down on the VMCAS? The center only does 1 day of shadowing, but I informed them that I'd prefer to shadow a bit more. Personally, I don't think one day gives anyone a thorough understanding of medicine. Neither does 20, or 100 hours for that matter, but I'm cutting it close at this point.

I want the committees to see that I've at least seen large animal medicine, and have an idea regarding what areas would and wouldn't be feasible from a wheelchair. I think that looks a lot better than "Ya, I'm in a wheelchair, so I'm not even going to consider X, Y, Z." I don't live my life like that, so I shouldn't approach vet med any differently.

20 hours of shadowing enough (regarding my situation) to put down on the VMCAS?
 

thecatastrophist

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Any amount is enough to put down on VMCAS. Plenty of students, myself included, have added veterinary experiences that were 8 hours or less. If you did it, don't assume that it's too small to be significant. I'm a firm believer that you should always focus on the quality of an experience. Will one or two days give you a perfect overview of all things LA? No, but it will give you a better idea of what the field entails. I think that's worth something.
 

Elkhart

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Seeing as it sounds like large animal isn't your primary interest, I definitely think that 20 hours is sufficient. There's still a good number of students applying, from what I have seen, with no large animal experience, so literally pretty much anything that shows that you did take that extra initiative to explore other areas is good! While it won't necessarily teach you all of the ins and outs of large animal medicine, it should be enough to at least give you an idea for what it's all about, as well as let you see what actually working with these animals is like.

And seriously, don't worry about having experiences with lower hours. I'm pretty sure it is understood that not all vet experiences are set up to be three-digit hours long. Heck, I have a couple of experiences that are less than ten hours. You can bet that I still listed them!
 
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neocia

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I got in to 3/5 schools and had no large animal veterinary hours on my application, only large animal husbandry through volunteering at farm animal rescues and a local zoo.
 

wallydo

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I want the committees to see that I've at least seen large animal medicine, and have an idea regarding what areas would and wouldn't be feasible from a wheelchair. I think that looks a lot better than "Ya, I'm in a wheelchair, so I'm not even going to consider X, Y, Z." I don't live my life like that, so I shouldn't approach vet med any differently.
@wheelin2vetmed , I love your attitude. Your posts constantly inspire me on this board. This attitude is great for the profession we so desperately seek.
 

wheelin2vetmed

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@wheelin2vetmed , I love your attitude. Your posts constantly inspire me on this board. This attitude is great for the profession we so desperately seek.
Haha thanks. If my attitude can help others see life and situations differently, I'm all for that. But I'm DEFINITELY NOT an inspiration. I know you're not being patronizing, but that word is thrown at me so much it's unbelievable!

At the end of the day, I tell people, I'm the exact same dude with the exact same drive post-injury, I just roll around and wont be jumping on a trampoline anytime soon. However, my situation definitely instilled wisdom about life. We're always told not take this, that, and the other for granted. I am absolutely thankful for what I still have now, mobility wise. If I broke my back a few inches higher I'd be a quadriplegic: goodbye music, goodbye vet med, goodbye being 100% independent. Worse yet, I could've just died. So ya, I have a lot to be thankful for, and that has allowed me to look at life a lot differently. Took me about a year to get to that point (which looking back, was pretty fast), but I'm glad to be where I am mentally. But, I'm no different than anyone else, I just have a glaringly obvious physical disability that others tend to label preconceived notions to.

Regarding the inspiration thing: yesterday I was at the grocery store grabbing food and some lady comes. In a slightly condescending tone says, "It's just so amazing to see you here, you're such an inspiration." I'm never rude, and I know her statement is coming from a good place, but seriously, lady, I'm grabbing vegetables.
 

heyyimhayley

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I did one shadow day (~9 hours) and about 30 hours of volunteering at a therapeutic riding center (so equine experience). Do you guys this that's enough for large animal if it isn't my primary interest? I have 2000 hours of SA, 450 in exotics, and 300 in research (also exotics, it's avian research). I wanted to get more, but I live in the middle of Boston with no car. The way I finally got the 40 hours I did was by taking an hour and a half train ride, plus a cab ride from the train to the barn... kinda a hassle, but I wanted to be able to show the schools something. Any thoughts?
 

wheelin2vetmed

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I did one shadow day (~9 hours) and about 30 hours of volunteering at a therapeutic riding center (so equine experience). Do you guys this that's enough for large animal if it isn't my primary interest? I have 2000 hours of SA, 450 in exotics, and 300 in research (also exotics, it's avian research). I wanted to get more, but I live in the middle of Boston with no car. The way I finally got the 40 hours I did was by taking an hour and a half train ride, plus a cab ride from the train to the barn... kinda a hassle, but I wanted to be able to show the schools something. Any thoughts?
I think you have absolutely nothing to worry about. My total vet hours will likely be 1/24 of yours. :nailbiting:
 

Coquette22

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W2VM: I think the surgical center will definitely be valuable and I certainly had some experiences on my application that were only a handful of hours. That said (and I'm probably telling you something you already know because you've always seemed to have your head screwed on properly) the surgical center will be very different from a lot of large animal medicine and surgery, most of which is done in fields and barns, assuming it doesn't end with "Well let's do what we can until the animal goes to market.". But you'll still see the diseases and how various large animal species are restrained and how blood draws and procedures are done, so it's certainly worthwhile (and I'm completely jealous). Just don't be surprised when your experience at the surgical center doesn't match up with the 'real world'. :)
 
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heyyimhayley

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Mar 29, 2015
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Hey! I've actually got a similar experience profile to yours. I have about 10 hours shadowing an equine vet along with just over 140 hours volunteering at a therapeutic riding facility and about 50 from riding as a child. Equine isn't my area of interest, so I think that that's pretty sufficient -- I would imagine yours is fine, too. I have a complete lack of large animal and am currently working to find a vet somewhere to squeeze a few hours of that in before submitting my VMCAS. But I'm not going to sweat it too much if I can't find anything (liability concerns seem to be the biggest reason large animal vets around here refuse shadows, and unfortunately there's not much I can do about that).

Does your state VMA have a search function on their website where you can narrow down vets by area? Maybe try that if you feel that you really need the large animal hours?

I've already got small animal, small animal holistic, wildlife, zoo, equine, and exotics/avian... I don't think having no large animal is going to be THAT make-or-break, as nice as it is to have. I'm going to continue trying, though! Even if it's only 5 hours.
Oh wow that is similar! I only started at the equine center in May and I go once a week for a few hours, so it's something, but not substantial. Again, whether it's a make or break thing, I put it a LOT of effort to get that with all the commuting. Actually, I rode as a child too (stopped around middle school, maybe younger)... but I wasn't going to include that since I was so young. I did my experiences as anything vet/animal related in high school I included, and then everything I've ever done in college. But nothing from HS that wasn't animal related, and nothing before high school at all.

I've tried looking for area veterinarians, and there's really nothing that's commutable by public transit. At this point, there's only a month left, and I don't have days off, so it's just not feasible. :/ I just gotta have fingers crossed, and get myself a car for next summer in case I don't get in. You sound like you have more depth overall than I do too. My small animal is pretty typical, and then outside of that my exotics is an aquarium internship and the avian research.
 

LetItSnow

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Hm. I spent 4-5 days at an equine clinic (I just set aside a week in the summer). I rode ... uh ... 1 day? Maybe 2 days? With a dairy vet.

I don't think I had any more than that. Caveat: I worked a dairy farm as a kid and had plenty of large animal (but not medicine) exposure/comfort from that.

I also, though, volunteered at a very large wildlife rehab center for a year.

But by FAR most of my experience was tied up in SA shadowing, and SA volunteering at MN's teaching hospital.
 
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