Nov 24, 2010
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Hi everyone!

So until very recently I have been undecided on whether I want to apply to veterinary or medical school. In the process of trying to figure out which path was right for me, I have put in a lot of hours into both working with animals and people in a clinical setting. I spent the past ~1 year completing a 200 hour internship at the hospital. Last quarter I graduated from UCLA and I recently started working at a private doctor's office.

I also have extensive experience working with animals (vet experience, field work, research experience, international volunteer work), and I plan on continuing to volunteer with a veterinarian in my area.

I'm wondering whether my experience in human medicine would detract from my application to vet school. Would adcoms be understanding and realize that not everyone has it all figured out when entering undergrad? As for my current job, I really do enjoy it since for the first time I have the opportunity to see the private office aspect of medicine, which would certainly be applicable as a vet. Also, I get to summarize the doctor's notes for office visits and consultations, which, again, would be extremely applicable as a vet and in vet school. But would adcoms look at that and wonder why I didn't spend that time working with animals? (The answer to that question is that I couldn't find a paid position in my area that involved working with animals).

Thanks for your help!
 

LetItSnow

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I'm wondering whether my experience in human medicine would detract from my application to vet school. Would adcoms be understanding and realize that not everyone has it all figured out when entering undergrad?
I have trouble imagining it hurting your application (so long as you also have the animal/vet experience they want, as it sounds like you do). I think the real question is whether it helps your application or is neutral. I suspect it could help your application, but that's just gut feeling. Can't even say why I think so.
 

twelvetigers

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Just be very prepared to explain why, in te end, you have chosen veterinary medicine. That's probably the most important thing.
 
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Nov 24, 2010
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Would I be able to list my volunteer hours at the hospital (human patients) on the VMCAS application (e.g. under "community activities")? And do you think that would even be a good idea, or would it be better to not include it?

Also, did anyone who has already gone through the application process have a similar background? How did it turn out?
 
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May 29, 2011
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I have noticed on some VMC websites that they say to list any lab experience. If you have experience in a hospital laboratory you would probably want to list that. Also, I don't think it is going to hurt you're application to list human medical experience. Animal and Human medicine are highly related, and any experience you have gained within the human medical field can apply to veterinary medicine. I worked in a hospital laboratory for six months as a phlebotomist and I will more than likely list that on my application when I apply. I know that a lot of the terms and procedures that I learned in the hospital have come in handy in my experience with shadowing a veterinarian. As a matter of fact, the techs and even the vet sometimes ask my advice about the proper way to collect blood samples. Hope this helps.
 

Minnerbelle

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Would I be able to list my volunteer hours at the hospital (human patients) on the VMCAS application (e.g. under "community activities")? And do you think that would even be a good idea, or would it be better to not include it?

Also, did anyone who has already gone through the application process have a similar background? How did it turn out?
Not a similar background, but there are schools that seem to value community service (non-animal related) so I'd say go for it! A couple of my interviewers really commended me for making the time to volunteer with children in after-school programs. I also remember a person or two on here saying that during their post-mortem, they were told they might want to try getting some community service.

Though it was in a research lab, my most significant employment/experience before applying was in human hospital as well, working for an MD. I even said outright in my PS that I was testing out if a PhD was the right path for me. It's totally okay (and probably wise) for you to have explored other career options before honing in on vet med anyway, so don't worry about that!
 

SocialStigma

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Also, did anyone who has already gone through the application process have a similar background? How did it turn out?
Not completely the same (as I have no human clinical experience) but I actually went the pre-med track for my undergrad because even though I knew I definitely wanted to be a vet, I'm also really interested in human medicine and it would be my only chance to study it. I took human anat&phys, human pathoanatomy, human pathophysiology etc rather than animal. I also have been working in a hospital lab (supervisor wrote one of my LORs).

I was never asked about it (the interview was MMI anyway) and got in without a hitch, so I say go for it.
 

jmo1012

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VMRCVM mentioned one time that they like seeing EMS/EMT stuff on the app, i bet it would carry over. at the very least it makes you diverse in a different way!
 

GellaBella

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I worked for a human doctor for about 2 years when I was in undergrad. Like you I wasn't sure if I wanted to go into human medicine or vet med.

I just listed it under employment on my VMCAS application and included what I did (took patients initial histories, took blood pressure, temp, pulse, resp rate, weight etc, watched minor surgeries, assisted with EKGs etc).

No one asked me anything about my time in a drs office. I've been asked many times why vet med rather than human med and I've just been honest: I could honestly see myself doing both, I enjoy science and medicine regardless of who my patient is, but that at the end of the day, I keep coming back to vet med. I enjoy the challenge of having a patient who cannot speak and tell me what's wrong, and I feel the greatest personal satisfaction helping an animal.

I think that you should DEFINITELY list your experience, because 1) it's still medicine, you will have seen the same basic procedures in a human drs office as in a vet office (history, PE etc) 2) you've had interaction or seen interaction with patients 3) you can tell the adcoms how your experience in a human drs office convinced you that vet med is right for you.

I think it will be looked positively on.
 

almostglue

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I had EMS experience and definitely mentioned it on my application. I pretty much always wanted to be a vet, but my undergrad school had a volunteer student run EMT program. I had an absolute blast doing it and I think it really helped me with vet school, too. In my opinion, medicine is medicine and the basics of human vs. animal are the exact same. I think working as an EMT gave me a leg up on some of my classmates on basic medical skills and knowledge, and almost more importantly - knowing how to talk to people. Client communication is something a lot of vet students don't have any experience in and being an EMT means you have to learn to talk to people and comfort them. Not all that different from when the human is the sick one to when it's their pet who's sick.

I proudly listed my EMT experience on my application - there are so many positives that can come from a human medical background I think it helps your application. If you get the chance in your personal statement, maybe you could focus on how human med experience has helped prepare you for a vet career (in other words, don't come right out and say you weren't sure whether you wanted to do human or vet med), but focus on things like communication skills and medical skills that you've learned.

My interviews were a long time ago, but I definitely don't recall any negative comments regarding my EMT experience, in fact most people think it's kind of cool. I know one school asked me if I applied to vet school and never got in (meaning... if I knew I would never get into vet school) what would I do with my life. After indicating that I was willing to apply several times, I answered that if I could never get into vet school I would become a paramedic and work EMS. I still got accepted there.
 

bunnity

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I had 4000+ hours in human medicine - I worked the same job from when I graduated high school until I moved the summer after college graduation. I think it helped my application although I don't know for sure. I think that many of the issues and experiences you will face in human medicine will be useful in vet medicine, especially the ability to talk to people who are afraid and upset.
 

LetItSnow

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I had 4000+ hours in human medicine - I worked the same job from when I graduated high school until I moved the summer after college graduation. I think it helped my application although I don't know for sure.
Heh. That's like anything we put in our apps - we hope it helped but never really know for sure.

I have to think it helped. There's so many obvious connections and similarities that experience and success in one of the fields ought to be a pretty good predictor of success in the other. The only way I could see it hurting would be the possible "ok, so is this person SURE they want vet instead of human? Are they just going to waffle again?" angle.... and I think that's pretty easily dealt with in a personal statement or interview.

@almostglue: Do you work in emergency vet medicine, or did you go completely away from the emergency side of the emt gig? That's quite an interesting background/transition!
 

almostglue

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@almostglue: Do you work in emergency vet medicine, or did you go completely away from the emergency side of the emt gig? That's quite an interesting background/transition!
Actually... I can't stand vet ER stuff; I worry too much. Being an EMT was an absolute thrill and I loved every second of it, but I just do not feel as comfortable with vet emergencies. I do feel a lot better about it now that I've finished my internship, but I have no interest in emergency/critical care for animals. Not sure if it's because as an EMT I only had a limited number of things I could do so there wasn't as much to worry about? There's so much I don't know these days!

I kind of did the EMT thing on a whim because human injuries always grossed me out although it never bothered me as much on animals. Absolutely loved it. :D And I really do think it helped me out for vet med - again, basic med skills (IVs, fluids, etc.) and communication skills. I also was involved in the leadership of the unit and so it helped out with office inter-relations, too.
 
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