spicykimchi

Inactive
Nov 5, 2010
169
0
California
Status
I will try to make this as brief and un-boring as possible.

I am a college student. Between 2003 and 2004 I failed 6 classes due to health problems and not knowing I could withdraw. I stayed out of school for 5 years while my health recovered. I went back to college in 2009 and since then I have gotten all A's and B's, and I withdrew from a total of two classes.

Other Facts of Note:
-I receive financial aid
-I am 25 years old
-I have no veterinary experience
-I have a fiancè
-I plan to have children

How do these factors affect my ability to mold myself into a competitive applicant, and what must I do to make a veterinary career and a marriage with children compatible?

Be brutally honest and don't be afraid to hurt my feelings.
 

StartingoverVet

Flight Instructor for hire
Lifetime Donor
7+ Year Member
Feb 17, 2010
23,641
8,077
Neither here nor there.
Status
Non-Student
Biggest issue to start is actually the no veterinary experience. I am not aware of any school that would accept you without some time spent that qualifies at veterinary experience. They will assume you really have no idea, and are not committed.

And given the academic background (which is certainly not insurmountable), you want the rest of your application to be as strong as possible.

That means while getting that experience you will need to get letters of recommendation (almost always one will have to be from a vet, sometimes more than 1), you will need to take the GRE, and have a great personal statement. Why vet med? Why are you applying if you have no background, etc.

The other factors are pretty irrelevant. Most people need financial aid, 25 is a pretty typical age to attend, family plans, are marital status are also irrelevant.

If you are serious, continue the academic success, start working on your experience, ace the GRE, etc. It is not unrealistic in the future but you need to get to work!
 
OP
S

spicykimchi

Inactive
Nov 5, 2010
169
0
California
Status
Hello StartingoverVet and thank you for your well-written and helpful reply.

I wanted to ask two things to clarify the communication between us:
-Did you think I was wanting to apply this year? I'm still at the crossroads of deciding if it is worth it to start accumulating all the experience and classes I would need to be able to apply to a vet school with. I still need like 35 credits worth of pre-reqs and I am thinking I would need 1,000 or so hours of veterinary experience. I would also need to take the GRE.
-Are you asking what makes me interested in this career?
 

bunnity

Penn 2014
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 26, 2009
2,032
206
Status
Veterinarian
My advice: start with the veterinary experience. You may well find that you don't want to be a vet (that's why the schools require it in the first place) or you may find something to motivate you through the next difficult years of applying and then the REALLY difficult years of vet school. You'll never know until you try. I don't think you can really make a decision until you know what you're making a decision about.
 
OP
S

spicykimchi

Inactive
Nov 5, 2010
169
0
California
Status
Okay let me get this straight:
-Academically speaking, and life circumstance speaking, this is still possible for me.
-The veterinary experience is what I need to concern myself the most with at the moment.

If I am correct then I say this: What kind of experiences do I need to be having to find out for sure if this is for me? And am I correct in thinking that what I have learned about the profession from reading books, talking to people, and watching videos doesn't scratch the surface of what this job is all about? Do I have to spend dozens if not hundreds of hours in a clinical setting before I will even have a clue?
 

lei325

Pseudo-adult
7+ Year Member
Jan 7, 2010
301
22
Connecticut
Status
Veterinarian
I agree with bunnity. Your first step should be to get some veterinary practice, either volunteering at a local animal shelter, or observing at a vet clinic, etc etc. There are so many ways to get experience. Getting in a lot of hours may take a while. Once you know that you really DO want to be a vet (which may not be the case, it depends on what you get out of your experience), you've got the long haul of getting through the pre-reqs. That may take a few years. So while you're doing your pre-reqs and accumulating experience hours, you may get married, have a kid, maybe two.

This does not prevent you from becoming a vet.

I believe that with all my heart. I don't think that getting married and having a family and going to vet school isn't impossible. Hard, yes. One of my classmates has a 9 year old (teen mom) and still managed to get an undergrad degree and get into vet school. (She's amazing, by the way.)

But what you need to decide is whether it will be worth it for you in the end. How bad do you want it? I mean, really. How bad do you really want it? It's extremely time consuming, vet school, as is a veterinary career (although you could do part time, I've seen it done). It could put strain on your relationship, it'll require you to put kids in daycare or with a nanny, etc etc. Would you be willing to put yourself through stuff like that in order to achieve a DVM?

I guess what I'm really trying to say is do YOU think that vet school is a reality for you? Because really, you're the only person who can truly make that decision. I know there are plenty of people on here who have had it rough, too, either from familial problems or health problems or just having a rough time of it in undergrad and not getting the grades. But they all decided that it was their goal to become a veterinarian and they've put their minds to it and slogged through and are almost to the other end of things.

So. How bad do you really want it? Is it hard to imagine yourself doing anything else? If you answer is yes, I really want it and no, I can't imagine myself doing anything else, then hey. You've got your answer.
 

bbeventer

Illinois 2016
5+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Sep 27, 2010
2,532
114
Illinois
Status
Veterinarian
Okay let me get this straight:
Do I have to spend dozens if not hundreds of hours in a clinical setting before I will even have a clue?
Yes. Experience in various practices of different types is helpful as well. In the end you may find out you hate dealing with yeast ridden dogs.
 

GellaBella

Penn Vet V'14
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 9, 2008
1,118
189
Philadelphia, PA
Status
Veterinary Student
Okay let me get this straight:
-Academically speaking, and life circumstance speaking, this is still possible for me.
-The veterinary experience is what I need to concern myself the most with at the moment.

If I am correct then I say this: What kind of experiences do I need to be having to find out for sure if this is for me? And am I correct in thinking that what I have learned about the profession from reading books, talking to people, and watching videos doesn't scratch the surface of what this job is all about? Do I have to spend dozens if not hundreds of hours in a clinical setting before I will even have a clue?
You are correct that reading books and watching videos won't cut it as far as admission committees are concerned. You will be expected to have lots of veterinary experience - either through shadowing a veterinarian (what I did), working as a vet tech or assistant, or doing research. You don't actually have to touch animals yourself during these activities (again, shadowing a vet is just fine) but you need to put in enough time for vet schools to believe that you know what you're getting into.

You are also expected to have a variety of experiences...small animal clinic, wildlife, animal shelter, large animal...these are all examples but generally the more diverse experiences you have, the better.

When I was applying and went to the Cornell open house they mentioned that their typical accepted student had something like 4000 hours of vet experience, between at least three different fields.

If you have an idea of the type of vet you think you'd like to be make sure that you get lots of that experience since some schools will ask you when you apply what you're thinking of going into and if you don't have the experience to back that up that's been a problem for some people.

Somewhere around here is the successful applicants thread which shows people stats that have been accepted including hours of vet experience.

As far as the other things you posted in your original post...there is nothing there that would make me say you're doomed. It's can all be managed and/or over-come. The experience is the important thing (and the gpa, gre, etc) and it's best to start working on it as soon as possible
 

New Foundland

be seeing you
Jan 6, 2010
266
1
Status
Veterinary Student
Where do you live?
Find out everything about your In-state school.
Find out what they value the most in applicants, how competitive their applicant pool is (the avg gpa and experience of accepted applicants), how they treat the different portions of your academic record (science gpa, last 2 years, cu. gpa etc)

Then judge whether that school looks like it could be within your reach after a couple years of gaining experience and whatnot..
If the IS school's app process does not favour you at all, are you willing to go in debt a quarter of a million dollars to go to an OOS school that favours your academic record more ?
 
Jan 18, 2006
16,869
14,918
Status
Veterinarian
When I was applying and went to the Cornell open house they mentioned that their typical accepted student had something like 4000 hours of vet experience, between at least three different fields.
Ok...from what I know of admission to any school, 4000 hours as average is crazy. No way. I had maybe 400 hours in two clinical fields (admittedly tons of research experience though) and got in easily. 4000 hours as average is nuts. That would be the equivalent of working a year and a half to two years full time in a clinic, something most undergraduates cannot do.

However, experience is CRITICAL for you to know this is what you want to do. You cannot understand in intricate personal interaction of a vet by reading in textbooks (although I know the medicine is fascinating!). You need to get out there and do the day to day vet life.
 

Kat0303

UTCVM co 2012 WOOOOOOO!
10+ Year Member
Feb 28, 2008
152
0
TN
Status
Veterinary Student
I 100% disagree that you need a ton of experience to get in. Yes, it would be in your best interest to get the experience you need to determine if you really want to do this, and I think actually being involved in a setting with a vet would be the best way to do that. But don't be discouraged that it will take you years of experience to even be eligable to apply to vet school. There are many people that had a few months or less (including myself)total of vet experience and got in. In my opinion, you need enough experience to convince yourself and the admissions committee that you are sure. I wouldn't disagree that people with a lot of hours may look better on paper, but it certainly isn't required at every school to have thousands of hours of experience (or even any in some cases) and I think it's worth a try to apply even if you don't have a ton. I have a few friends in my class that have zero hours working with a vet. That's definitely not the norm, but it just goes to show you it happens.
 
OP
S

spicykimchi

Inactive
Nov 5, 2010
169
0
California
Status
I understand and agree with you guys that books and videos would be something laughable to put down as "veterinary experience" on an application. I was trying to find out if they give me any idea at all of what the career is like. I'm getting the impression that they don't scratch the surface.

Was anybody shy about approaching a vet and asking to shadow? How did you overcome that? And what should I do in the instance I call every vet around and none will let me shadow? I am in a situation where I don't think actually working for a vet is an option. I don't want to explain this situation publicly but I will in a private message.
 

PendantWorld

Cornell CVM c/o 2015
Dec 1, 2010
111
0
New York
Status
Veterinary Student
Was anybody shy about approaching a vet and asking to shadow? How did you overcome that? And what should I do in the instance I call every vet around and none will let me shadow? I am in a situation where I don't think actually working for a vet is an option. I don't want to explain this situation publicly but I will in a private message.
I was tremendously shy at first - something it took me awhile to overcome (the best way to do that is to just suck it up and call places, no matter how nerve-wracking!). I called every veterinarian within a twenty minute driving radius. Since I live in a densely populated area, that amounted to ~15 clinics. I got a "no" from every single one (very discouraging). Finally, I went a bit further away and found a place that let me intern for the summer. When the summer was over, they hired me as an assistant.

The thing you need to do is just be persistent. Call tons of places - don't just wait to hear back from one before moving on (that was my mistake at first). Also know that the receptionists who answer the phone may not know whether or not the vet would be ok with you shadowing, so ask if you can leave a message for them. If you live in an area where there is a vet tech school, there will usually be some clinics around that are used to allowing student shadows - tech students have to complete two preceptorships before they can graduate.

Also, have a good cover letter/resume that you can send to places. Even if you can't work and can only shadow, this is a good way to demonstrate that you will be respectful while you shadow and that you have a genuine interest in the profession.

Hope this helps!
 
OP
S

spicykimchi

Inactive
Nov 5, 2010
169
0
California
Status
Hmm. Yes it does help.You've all given me so much to think about.

Collectively you guys are so knowledgeable. The questions I ask here, if I asked them just about anywhere else, I'd get nothing but "I don't know". And Googling only goes so far. (I would know, lol :p)

For years I have been so utterly captivated by anything and everything to do with veterinary medicine that I could never live with myself if I didn't at least see if this career could work. The only way I could choose a different career and live with myself is if I first make absolute sure being a veterinarian is NOT going to work out. So that's what I'm trying to do.

I guess I could start by calling my personal vet and asking if I could shadow. I've told him before I was thinking about being a vet and he always said I could do it and encouraged me...he even let me in the back a couple times...I just never had the courage to ask him if I could shadow. The possibility of him saying no intimidated me. Guess I need to get over that fear and get over it fast, eh?

What exactly do I do? Call the receptionist and ask her to tell him to give me a call back? Does it matter if my voice sounds nervous and shaky?
 

PendantWorld

Cornell CVM c/o 2015
Dec 1, 2010
111
0
New York
Status
Veterinary Student
What exactly do I do? Call the receptionist and ask her to tell him to give me a call back? Does it matter if my voice sounds nervous and shaky?
That's a good first step! Don't worry if your voice is shaky - receptionists are generally very friendly (its their job after all)! Also, be prepared to call back if your vet doesn't get back to you. They are usually incredibly busy, and often have to prioritize their time strictly (ie, they may need to call clients before they can call you back). My rule of thumb was to wait a few days, but no longer than a week, before calling back.

If you know the vet, that is already a good foot in the door. If he can't let you shadow, ask him if he knows any other vets in the area that provide such opportunities. Vets generally know how important it is for prospective applicants to get experience - they had to go through it too!
 

Nissan

WesternU CVM c/o 2014
Feb 3, 2010
96
0
SoCal!
Status
Veterinary Student
There are tons of non-traditional students with the same situation as yours, and it's definitely not impossible.

I know you said you've never had any veterinary experience, but have you had any other animal experience? If finding a veterinary clinic/hospital/practice to volunteer (many places don't allow volunteers because of liability) or shadow seems daunting, or the reason they say "no" is the lack of any experience to begin with, maybe you can whet your whistle by volunteering at the local animal shelter or rescue (or farm, zoo, etc).

What's kinda funny is that cleaning kennels and providing daily care at the shelter was the same thing I initially did when I first started as a "tech"/assistant. About two months in, I was doing dentals and allowed to hang around the doctor more directly + assist in/monitor surgeries*. Having that "I know how to clean poop and vomit and abscesses and I don't mind :D" experience and attitude from the shelter helped with eventually securing employment at a small clinic.

Again, there are other avenues you may want to explore. But I agree: what I think is most important for you, at this point, is to truly experience vet med, not just read about it. It's certainly an emotional investment a lot of the time. It's different to read about some key phrases you can say to a grieving client after euthanasia and to actually face them, fight back your own emotions, and maintain professional composure to provide them comfort. Or to hear about, rather than see, the happiest, goofiest, most ridiculous pit bull/lab/beagle/etc waddle towards you, fully recovered from a car accident the owners (and doctors you worked with) were sure to end badly.

(*This is in NJ. Not sure about now, but at the time I was working, you didn't have to be licensed or undergo formal education to do certain things reserved for RVTs/LVTs in other states.)
 
OP
S

spicykimchi

Inactive
Nov 5, 2010
169
0
California
Status
There are tons of non-traditional students with the same situation as yours, and it's definitely not impossible.

I know you said you've never had any veterinary experience, but have you had any other animal experience? If finding a veterinary clinic/hospital/practice to volunteer (many places don't allow volunteers because of liability) or shadow seems daunting, or the reason they say "no" is the lack of any experience to begin with, maybe you can whet your whistle by volunteering at the local animal shelter or rescue (or farm, zoo, etc).

What's kinda funny is that cleaning kennels and providing daily care at the shelter was the same thing I initially did when I first started as a "tech"/assistant. About two months in, I was doing dentals and allowed to hang around the doctor more directly + assist in/monitor surgeries*. Having that "I know how to clean poop and vomit and abscesses and I don't mind :D" experience and attitude from the shelter helped with eventually securing employment at a small clinic.

Again, there are other avenues you may want to explore. But I agree: what I think is most important for you, at this point, is to truly experience vet med, not just read about it. It's certainly an emotional investment a lot of the time. It's different to read about some key phrases you can say to a grieving client after euthanasia and to actually face them, fight back your own emotions, and maintain professional composure to provide them comfort. Or to hear about, rather than see, the happiest, goofiest, most ridiculous pit bull/lab/beagle/etc waddle towards you, fully recovered from a car accident the owners (and doctors you worked with) were sure to end badly.

(*This is in NJ. Not sure about now, but at the time I was working, you didn't have to be licensed or undergo formal education to do certain things reserved for RVTs/LVTs in other states.)
Hmm, how do veterinary people learn to deal with all the bad things that they see?

And, well, I have volunteer experience. I volunteered at a humane society before (I cleaned cages and talked to adopters) and I currently ride/exercise/train horses at a horse rescue. And then I don't know if this counts but I used to show dogs and I was a member in a kennel club.

Oh yeah and I whelped a litter.

I dunno I've done a lot of stuff. I'm the kind of person that isn't afraid to dive in and get dirty. LOL we had ducks when I was little and I would chase them everywhere and finally corner one and catch it. I did this just so I could pet one, lol.

I've trained neighbors dogs...lol there is no end to the stuff that I do.
 

katryn

UTCVM c/o 2014!!!!
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 2, 2009
1,174
373
Knoxville, TN
Status
Veterinary Student
Hmm, how do veterinary people learn to deal with all the bad things that they see?
Mainly, you get in there and experience it first hand. None of us really knows how we're going to handle something until we see it. You have a few melt downs, and most doctors you work with will be very understanding and help you deal with it. And you'll muddle through the rest. This is part of the reason why experience is ranked almost as importantly as grades on your application. They really don't want you to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to find out that you hate/can't handle what you do.
 

GellaBella

Penn Vet V'14
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 9, 2008
1,118
189
Philadelphia, PA
Status
Veterinary Student
Ok...from what I know of admission to any school, 4000 hours as average is crazy. No way. I had maybe 400 hours in two clinical fields (admittedly tons of research experience though) and got in easily. 4000 hours as average is nuts. That would be the equivalent of working a year and a half to two years full time in a clinic, something most undergraduates cannot do.

However, experience is CRITICAL for you to know this is what you want to do. You cannot understand in intricate personal interaction of a vet by reading in textbooks (although I know the medicine is fascinating!). You need to get out there and do the day to day vet life.
Oh god believe me, I totally agree. Im sorry I wasn't clearer...I wasn't trying to say that's what you need to get accepted! What I meant to say after that was that I was accepted with 500 hours of shadowing time to two schools and waitlisted at a third. I was saying it more because a) that is what Cornell said b) if he takes a look at the successful apps page he'll see some people with amazing hours (especially those posting on SDN)...and I didn't want him to be scared by that...it didn't help that I forgot to include my hours shadowing for reference.

My brains a little fried, I'm nearing the end of finals.

You certainly don't need thousands of hours of experience, but if possible, it should be diverse (again I'm not a good example of that, I had research and shadowing an exotics vet).
 

StartingoverVet

Flight Instructor for hire
Lifetime Donor
7+ Year Member
Feb 17, 2010
23,641
8,077
Neither here nor there.
Status
Non-Student
I 100% disagree that you need a ton of experience to get in. Yes, it would be in your best interest to get the experience you need to determine if you really want to do this, and I think actually being involved in a setting with a vet would be the best way to do that. But don't be discouraged that it will take you years of experience to even be eligable to apply to vet school. There are many people that had a few months or less (including myself)total of vet experience and got in. In my opinion, you need enough experience to convince yourself and the admissions committee that you are sure. I wouldn't disagree that people with a lot of hours may look better on paper, but it certainly isn't required at every school to have thousands of hours of experience (or even any in some cases) and I think it's worth a try to apply even if you don't have a ton. I have a few friends in my class that have zero hours working with a vet. That's definitely not the norm, but it just goes to show you it happens.
I wouldn't underestimate the experience factor (although 4000 could be considered overkill).

An application is viewed as a whole and rough spots in one area can be counterbalanced by strengths in another.

Most of the people I have met or heard of who got in on low experience had very strong support elsewhere. WhtsthFrequency mentions research, Gellabella had a phD, I had a long successful non-vet career, others have very strong grades etc etc.

OP has a few (surmountable) problems in the academic record to overcome. It is pretty unrealistic to encourage an application without better than average stats somewhere else. Experience is one of the EASIEST things to get, it just takes time. I would definitely NOT recommend applying without working/volunteering a year or two in vet med. And hours alone are not enough as we know plenty of people on this forum with great hours who have not YET gotten in.

ps - there is a place for all your "animal" experiences to be listed on an app, but none of the ones you mentioned qualify as vet med experience.
 

bunnity

Penn 2014
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 26, 2009
2,032
206
Status
Veterinarian
If you already have an in at the humane society, you can see if they will let you volunteer with the vet there. Non profits tend to need the help. I got my vet experience at a shelter and I literally called and left a message and they called me back and said "when do you want to start?" They didn't even verify that I was a real person :) but it turned out as a great experience.
 

sumstorm

10+ Year Member
Apr 5, 2008
3,331
16
NC
Status
Veterinarian
I read a lot of what was said, and just wanted to add some things and contradict some things that were said.

First, do not limit yourself to your in state school, especially as a non-trad with an academic blip. Some schools 'forgive' grades, some schools 'expire' grades, some schools are more focused on other factors. Also, the presumption that an IS (instate) school will be cheaper than and OOS (out of state) school isn't accurate; it depends on a lot of other factors (including your IS costs, OOS costs, ability to be admitted, and whether you can become IS for tuition purposes during your education.) Do start looking at schools now, and see what the pre-reqs are, and be sure you can handle those, and be sure you have most of them satisfied. Also, calculate out your overall GPA, and pre-req GPA, both with and without your '03/'04 record.

The experience is important (and many schools do have minimum requirements; ours is 400 hours of diverse, directly supervised, vet experience). Not just for gaining admissions to vet school, but for deciding if this is a profession you want to pursue. It is a costly profession to get into, with a lot of hoops to jump through to get in and throughout your career. It also has some of the highest burn our rates, and in some places, high suicide rates. Also, this is one of those careers where, as soon as you 'know' what you should 'know' things will change...and you will need to learn more, or change what you know. The important part of gaining experience is to understand the parts that are far from fun; that are devastating, nerve wracking, anxiety inducing, tedious, enraging, frustrating, etc. Those aspects often aren't reported in books or videos. You need to have some knowledge of just how clueless or adversarial a client can be, and how much you must be able to work with all sorts of people, and how challenging it can be to perform efficiently when there are so many demands on your time. Alot of folks tend to see vet med as animal focused, but in my experience, it is mostly human focused; dealing with owners or keepers or researchers or referring vets, etc. You need to see what it is like to have a great client and a great owner and a devastating diagnosis. These are the things that will help you decide whether the bad parts of the profession are comfortable with you. I think this is particulary true if you are shy or introverted (that is my opinion, someone will disagree, and that is fine...but if you struggle to ask to shadow, you may also struggle to ask for $1k to properly treat an animal, or fund research, or as a grant for a non-profit, etc.) As other noted, this can be overcome, but that involves choices as well.

Fiance/husband/children are all about finding life/work balance, which can be hard to do as a student and as a vet. Those are decisions you will have to make with any demanding career. I would encourage you to have frank discussions with your fiance about how this career choice may impact your life; while it is possible to have an 8-5 job in vet med, it isn't really that common and school is unlikely to be an 8-5 proposition.

Some folks will say you need to be able to explain 'why vet med?' I still can't say why I want to be here; I think this process, for the benefits, is insane (however, I am also a sky diver, SCUBA diver, and live with 9 pets + fosters, so insane is part of my life) but I can say why I will make an excellent vet and the traits that will help me contribute both to my clients and to the profession. I can describe how every life choice I have made has put me at the edge of vet med, working in conjunction with veterinarians. I can also explain how a DVM is useful for my future goals, but not necessarily why I want to be a DVM. In other words, I think a DVM is the best way for me, but if I hadn't been admitted to vet school, I still would have had a career working at the edge of vet med with the skills I have already developed and an eagerness to learn more. You definitly need to understand how vet med fits into your life, and how you fit into the profession (not necessarily a specific career path, but that you bring value to the field.)

So, I'd say that you have a dual challenge right now; figure out what you need to get in and where you are interested in attending (and whether you are ok with that aspect of this process) and gain experience to see if the costs (challenges) are worth the benefits. Also, while I do not believe marital status and wanting a family are contraindicated for this career, it may be challenging to figure out the timing as a non-trad. I may be having children after 35 because of this career choice, which I did not want. For some folks, those timing issues may be a deal breaker, but these are questions that you have to answer for yourself.
 
OP
S

spicykimchi

Inactive
Nov 5, 2010
169
0
California
Status
Is this a good idea or no? I was thinking about, if I ever became a DVM, to get extra training as a specialist because (according to the web) some of them have salaries over 100k/year and I thought that would support my family better. I have some questions about that, though.

Do specialists get bored doing the same things?

How does one even become a specialist? Residency?

Do they have to work harder than a regular vet?

Edit: By the way I've been getting asked to look at schools. Two I've shown interest in were UC Davis (my in-state school) and CSU. Hope this helps.
 

Kat0303

UTCVM co 2012 WOOOOOOO!
10+ Year Member
Feb 28, 2008
152
0
TN
Status
Veterinary Student
I wouldn't underestimate the experience factor (although 4000 could be considered overkill).

An application is viewed as a whole and rough spots in one area can be counterbalanced by strengths in another.

Most of the people I have met or heard of who got in on low experience had very strong support elsewhere. WhtsthFrequency mentions research, Gellabella had a phD, I had a long successful non-vet career, others have very strong grades etc etc.

OP has a few (surmountable) problems in the academic record to overcome. It is pretty unrealistic to encourage an application without better than average stats somewhere else. Experience is one of the EASIEST things to get, it just takes time. I would definitely NOT recommend applying without working/volunteering a year or two in vet med. And hours alone are not enough as we know plenty of people on this forum with great hours who have not YET gotten in.

ps - there is a place for all your "animal" experiences to be listed on an app, but none of the ones you mentioned qualify as vet med experience.

I agree with your points, especially in this OPs case. With the weaknesses in other areas and because they are still unsure about vet med, experience is key.


I definitely think experience is important and will put anyone in a more competitive position. Where I was coming from with my original statement was that I think sometimes people get a little overzealous in their advice on experience and convince people it will take a ridiculous amount of time before it would be even feasable to apply. I know there are several schools that require experience, and even the ones that don't require it like and usually expect to see it. But not having a lot of experience is not always a deal breaker. I agree, many people do have shining strengths in other areas, but not always.

But with that said, I think in the OPs individual case, experience is crutial, especially to make sure it's really what they want to do and have the best shot at getting in. But all I'm saying is don't be intimidated by the folks that have crazy numbers of hours at various vet settings, because that extent of experience isn't necessary in all cases (depending on where you apply). Regardless of that though, experience working with a vet is definitely the best route to making sure you are willing to deal with the not fun part of vet med, like sumstorm said.
 
Last edited:

VeganSoprano

Queen of Spayeds
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
May 27, 2004
686
3
39
Washington, DC
Status
I personally don't think one should make the decision to specialize just on the basis of a potentially higher salary. There are trade-offs that must be considered. For small animals, specialization generally requires a one-year rotating internship, possibly followed by a specialty internship, followed by a 3-year residency. These 4-5 years are at very low pay (generally $20-30k for intern year(s) and $30-$40k for residency years). You are also likely to have to move 2-3 times due to the relatively small number of specialty internships and residencies available, which could be very tough on your spouse's career.

I don't think a general practitioner's job is necessarily more varied than a specialist's. Regardless of what you do, it is very likely that you will spend 75% or so of your time doing a relatively small number of things. What changes is what those things are. A general small animal practitioner will spend a large amount of time doing wellness exams and spays and neuters. An internal medicine specialist will do a lot of abdominal ultrasounds and work up a lot of cases of chronic vomiting and diarrhea. A cardiologist does a lot of echocardiograms. And so on. If you love that 75% of your job, you will probably not be bored.

So basically, there are advantages and disadvantages to specializing. Do it if it's what you want to do, not because you will make more money.
 

RaiderTXgirl

TEXAS A&M c/o 2015!
Mar 3, 2010
174
1
Texas
Status
Veterinary Student
I'm sure that much if not all of this has already been addressed, but I haven't read through all of the responses. Just thought I would throw in my two cents, for what it's worth :)

I am one of those people that has 4000+ hours vet experience. I would definitely agree that it is not necessary to have that much to get in (although I feel like for me it might be, because my GPA is not as high as some). I have that many hours because I needed to work while in school, and I figured I might as well work in a clinic if I had to work in the first place.

That being said, I have gained ALOT of insight about the day-to-day life of a vet because of my experience. A large portion of that experience was at one clinic, and I think that being at one place that long gave me a sort of "inside scoop" on the nitty gritty of how a practice is run, and the pros and cons of the profession. What I mean is, I got to see/experience things that I may not have gotten to see if I wasn't there very often. Case in point, because I was an employee and became part of the team, I was exposed to the business side of things (i.e. dealing with an unruly client, pricing/management issues, creating treatment estimates, etc.) as well as the medicine. In fact, part of my job (as a vet tech, since I hadn't mentioned that) was to help settle client disputes (although, management often had to step in eventually) and create/discuss treatment plans, in addition to stuff like giving vaccines, dentals, xrays, etc., etc.

It is definitely not a necessity, and understanding the medicine side of the profession is at the top of the list of priorities, but it can help to understand the non-medicine side of a practice too. After all, there is more to being a vet than just the medicine! Of course having diverse experience is important, but if you can stay at one place for a while (while maybe also volunteering at some other type clinics), you will likely get a deeper understanding of a practice as a whole. This can also help you during interviews, because you can reference your own first hand experiences while answering one of the committee's questions. I also included some stories/experiences in my essays.


As I said, it is not necessary to have this many hours, but for us low GPA people, it can help. I can say with certainty that no matter how many hours you get, it will definitely tell you AND the admissions committee more if you have experience than it will if you just read/watch videos about it!! :)

Good luck!
 
OP
S

spicykimchi

Inactive
Nov 5, 2010
169
0
California
Status
I'm planning on calling my vet hospital on monday and asking if I can shadow. Can you guys crit what I was planning on saying?

"Hi, I'm Sally SoandSo. I have been taking my animals to this clinic for years now and I wanted to ask Dr. Love if he would be willing to let me come and observe him. I have been considering being a vet for a long time but I realized that I will never be able to decide for sure if this is for me unless I get to see first hand what they do. Is there a time when he could call me and talk to me about this?"
 
Last edited:
Aug 4, 2010
90
1
Northern California
Status
Non-Student
I'd actually show up in person there if you can. It's harder to say no to a real face. What you wrote is fine although you might want to ask if you can volunteer there rather than just shadow? Watching someone do something gets mighty boring and they always need people to fold the surgical towels and restock the syringes, plus you can always shadow. I go in and watch when there's some interesting surgery I haven't seen before.

If they say no (my vet office where I've been taking my animals for twenty years blew me off for reasons that irritate me) then just keep driving down the street to the next place. I showed up unannounced and unknown at the SA hospital I volunteer at now originally.

I'll assume you are using fictitious names, since most folks aren't keen on publicizing their actual identity on the internet.
 
OP
S

spicykimchi

Inactive
Nov 5, 2010
169
0
California
Status
I'd actually show up in person there if you can. It's harder to say no to a real face. What you wrote is fine although you might want to ask if you can volunteer there rather than just shadow? Watching someone do something gets mighty boring and they always need people to fold the surgical towels and restock the syringes, plus you can always shadow. I go in and watch when there's some interesting surgery I haven't seen before.

If they say no (my vet office where I've been taking my animals for twenty years blew me off for reasons that irritate me) then just keep driving down the street to the next place. I showed up unannounced and unknown at the SA hospital I volunteer at now originally.

I'll assume you are using fictitious names, since most folks aren't keen on publicizing their actual identity on the internet.
Went back and edited it since I didn't even notice I did that.
 

moosenanny

UC DAVIS class of 2014!!!
5+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2009
564
1
CA
Status
Veterinary Student
Edit: By the way I've been getting asked to look at schools. Two I've shown interest in were UC Davis (my in-state school) and CSU. Hope this helps.
Just to let you know, UC Davis and CSU are two of the more 'competitive' schools to gain admissions. While someone's quote of 4,000 average hours of vet experience may have been a bit extreme, at UC Davis my freshman class has an average of 3,025 "veterinary-related" experience hours. I personally had right around average for this stat, but my GPA and GRE scores were well above average. Btw, I was accepted at three schools, but rejected from CSU . . .

Here are our class's overall statistics (I've posted this link numerous times in different threads, and I think looking at it will give you some direction and more tangible goals):

http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/studentprograms/class_2014/pdfs/app_stats_2014.pdf
 
Jan 18, 2006
16,869
14,918
Status
Veterinarian
These 4-5 years are at very low pay (generally $20-30k for intern year(s) and $30-$40k for residency years).
I wish I got paid 40K. The average resident salary is more around ~$28 - $32K with a few outliers. I am very lucky to be at $31K. The intern numbers sound right.

I don't think you lose variety if you specialize. On the contrary, you learn tons of things they didn't teach you in school, that makes your "special focus" even more "diverse"...if that makes sense. I'm in pathology and I see a HUGE variety of things (probably more than the average vet, actually).

But specialization does not come without a cost. Sure you make more money in the end, but you need to dedicate 3 to 5 years of your life to making crap money, worked extremely hard, and having to move at the whim of where you get accepted. It makes family life and sanity very difficult.