Apr 11, 2010
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Hello everyone! I've been browsing this forum for weeks and finally signed up.

I'm currently a graduate student at UF working on a MS in Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences. I graduated from UWF last May with a BS in Marine Biology and BA in Psychology. I have always had the idea that I would keep going the academic route and obtain a PhD. I figured I would teach and do research at some university. The more I think about it, though, the more I dislike the lifestyle that comes with it- endless grant writing, teaching more than doing research, and other mundane tasks that come with being a professor.

For the last 5 or so years I have been playing with the idea of becoming a vet, but I didn't start to seriously consider it until recently. Now I can't get it out of my head and I feel like my heart is really pulling on me to go the DVM route! I think it just fits my goals better in the long run (more direct animal contact, better hours, job forecast is MUCH better than faculty positions).

I'd like to go the aquatic animal route (aquarium, zoo, aquaculture extension possibly), but not close off the possibility of working at a small animal clinic. It looks like I'm going to apply to UF for next year.

Just a few questions:
Will having a Master's degree increase my chances of being admitted?

Should I bother taking the GRE again (1090...)?

I have no experience working in a clinic but I do have tons of experience in fish husbandry (I interned at an aquaculture facility). One of my Master's committee members is a vet here at UF and I have helped out in her lab with fish pathology. Should I try to get experience at an actual vet clinic?

Will I be a strong candidate, considering I will have tons of research experience, not to mention 3 degrees?

Any other advice you want to send my way would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks.
 

sumstorm

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I'd like to go the aquatic animal route (aquarium, zoo, aquaculture extension possibly), but not close off the possibility of working at a small animal clinic. It looks like I'm going to apply to UF for next year.
I don't know of any vet schools that do aquatics focus, so you will probably look at exotics....and still learn general vet med (SA & LA) if you want that route, though you should be aware aquarium & zoo is a very small field, without a great outlook and low on the payscale.

Just a few questions:
Will having a Master's degree increase my chances of being admitted?
probably just in increasing diversity/experience/etc.

Should I bother taking the GRE again (1090...)?
Might want to if you can do better. Or if it will be outdated (more than a couple years at some schools.

I have no experience working in a clinic but I do have tons of experience in fish husbandry (I interned at an aquaculture facility). One of my Master's committee members is a vet here at UF and I have helped out in her lab with fish pathology. Should I try to get experience at an actual vet clinic?
probably. look at UF's experience and LOR requirements. especially if you have any interest in clincal.

will I be a strong candidate, considering I will have tons of research experience, not to mention 3 degrees?
need more info. GPA (UG, pre-req, total, last 45), hours/type of experience.
 

eringobraugh

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Welcome! SDN is a great resource if you're looking for advice, support, answers etc. In my experience, the people on here have been about a million times more helpful than my pre-vet advisor was in college. As for your questions, I'm sure you'll get tons of advice from other SDNers!

Just a few questions:
Will having a Master's degree increase my chances of being admitted?
I don't think necessarily holding a master's degree increases your chances. I think it's more, how are you utilizing your experience you have gained while obtaining your degree that counts. Does that make sense? This was my third time applying and the second time I had just finished my masters and still got rejected. I did gains tons of vet experience while doing my masters though which I DEF think helped amp up my application

Should I bother taking the GRE again (1090...)?
Though that is a perfectly acceptable GRE score, I would definitely consider taking it again. You are applying against the best of the best and especially since your vet experience at this point is minimal. If you are totally against retaking it, I would look at schools that accept students with lower GRE scores, Western comes to mind. They are known look at the whole applicant, not just their stats, though there are plenty of schools out there that do that as well.

I have no experience working in a clinic but I do have tons of experience in fish husbandry (I interned at an aquaculture facility). One of my Master's committee members is a vet here at UF and I have helped out in her lab with fish pathology. Should I try to get experience at an actual vet clinic?...)
YES YES YES, if not for the experience at least to know what you are getting into. Even though you want to work with marine animals, I would still at least volunteer. The more diverse your experiences the more well rounded you will seem to the ADCOMS as an applicant

Will I be a strong candidate, considering I will have tons of research experience, not to mention 3 degrees?
That's hard for us to judge, sometimes people get in with minimal experience, but it definitely wouldn't hurt to get more. Sometimes schools let in people I would never have expected to get in and vice versa.

Good luck!
 

StartingoverVet

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Will I be a strong candidate, considering I will have tons of research experience, not to mention 3 degrees?
A lot of the answer to this question will depend on you... Since you are following a non-traditional path it will be up to you to define yourself that makes you an attractive candidate to be in vet med. A lot of that will come from your personal statement. Right now, if I was on an adcom (and I am definitely not), I would want to be convinced that ved med is right for you, that you are committed to it, and understand what you are getting into. I am not sure any of that is clear right now (but you could certainly help to do that on your application.)

Just because you think jobs are available and you like to be involved with animals is not going to be enough. The time doing fish pathology with a vet is some vet experience but my guess is you are going to need more to demonstrate an understanding of what you are getting yourself into, and to make it clear that this is a career that has been carefully considered.

It is possible to get in without a lot of experience, every case is different. I know a post-doc biochem researcher who got in with minimal vet experience (to Tufts) but he also had a very compelling explanation why vet med made sense for him. Try to think how you might do the same.

Also, if you think you can improve the GRE score then I would definitely recommend it. Any way that you can better your standing can only help.

Good Luck.
 

david594

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I don't know of any vet schools that do aquatics focus, so you will probably look at exotics....
Most schools don't really seem to cover aquaculture. The best options for that would be Aquavet through cornell/penn. AVC in canada also seems to do a decent bit of aquaculture.
 

AUgirl365

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Having a Master's may not help you but it doesn't hurt your chances either. The important thing is that you did well in your classes and have a competitive GPA in all of your degrees that you achieved. Veterinary medicine is a highly competitive field to try to get into due to the job popularity and small number of schools in the US (and many other factors) Unfortunately there just aren't enough seats in classes and most schools weed out the thousands of applicants mostly based on GPA. So first things first, make sure you have the grades. You probably have nothing to worry about since you have 3 degrees but calculate these GPAs and improve where ever you are weak.
You are scored and get points for different GPAs (at least it was this way for the school that I was accepted to). They look at:
1. an overall GPA of everything you have ever taken
2. an overall science GPA
3. combined organic chemistry and physics GPA
4. a trend GPA (your last 30 to 45 hours taken)
Also make sure you have taken all the pre-req classes the school requires and have done well in them. You can find the school specific pre-reqs on this web site http://www.aavmc.org/vmcas/vmcas.htm.

The above calculated GPAs and your GRE score make up half of the points you get. Your GRE score isn't bad (actually your score is only about 200 points away from the average GRE score of the class above me) but if you feel you want to be more competitive and have the time to take it again and can do better, go for it. If you plan to apply to out of state schools you will need a higher GRE score too. Most OOS requirements are higher than the in-state requirements. Again all school specific info can be found at the web address above.

The other 50% of your points when applying come from things in your application like your personal statement, letters of recommendation, veterinary and animal experience, school involvement, hobbies, etc. Mostly the committee is looking to see that you have explored and researched vet med so you know what you are getting into and they want to know your personality, are you well rounded, do you handle stress well, etc.? I highly doubt you will have any problem writing a personal statement or getting amazing reqs but I advise getting some more animal experience. And a variety of it... large animal, small animal, exotic, etc. It will do two things for you:
1. give you the hours of veterinary/animal experience needed to be competitive
2. give you a better idea of what veterinary medicine is really like

I highly recommend doing some more research and finding out what the career offers before jumping into the application process because its a long hard road to go down if you are not really sure. The only reason I say this is because you mentioned that vets have better hours and job forecast than teaching, which I disagree with. Many vets work long hard hours for very little pay compared to other professional degrees... In a nut shell you have to love it!. If you don't do anything else check out AAVMC. And now I have written a book, sorry.

I wish you the best of luck!!!!
 

nyanko

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I don't think necessarily holding a master's degree increases your chances. I think it's more, how are you utilizing your experience you have gained while obtaining your degree that counts. Does that make sense? This was my third time applying and the second time I had just finished my masters and still got rejected.
She hit the nail on the head here. If you did good research, can show that you really understand the research you did, and can relate your experience to why you want to go into vet med, that's what matters.

Also, what kind of grades did you have?
 
OP
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Apr 11, 2010
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Wow, thank you all!

My overall GPA in undergrad wasn't stellar (3.3). Not sure of overall science or last hours, but I'm pretty sure it's higher. I'll pull up my transcripts and try to figure that out. My graduate GPA will be close to a 4.0.

UF covers some aquaculture topics; I have met a few vet students through my department volunteering in labs and such. A few weeks ago I went to a koi farm and took samples for SVC monitoring. The opportunities are there even though they are not necessarily advertised.

I do want to get some experience in a small animal clinic, but the reason I was asking is because starting this summer, I'm going to be super busy working on my thesis research...I have a feeling it is going to be a huge time suck, but maybe I'll be able to do something on the weekends.

While I haven't made up my mind yet, I do see myself going for a DVM. I suppose it ultimately depends on how my application fairs! I will spend the next few months exploring myself. Thanks again for all the input.
 

sumstorm

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UF covers some aquaculture topics; I have met a few vet students through my department volunteering in labs and such. A few weeks ago I went to a koi farm and took samples for SVC monitoring. The opportunities are there even though they are not necessarily advertised.
Oh, I wasn't suggesting that none of the schools have anything about aquatics...just that, as far as I know, there isn't a school with a focus area or track of aquatics. So... you will very likely still cover the more common species.

MS state does a lot wih fresh water aquacultue.

We have some marine stuff here, and in zoo med we cover marine inverts, fish, etc. fish surgery was fun last semester. I will be at sea for 6 weeks this summer doing marine mammal/sea turtle work. We had a master koi seminar here last weekend. there are oppurtunities..... but they are generally part of larger programs (ie zoo med or exotics....possibly food animal?)

good luck!
 

mhlaur

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Wow, thank you all!

UF covers some aquaculture topics; I have met a few vet students through my department volunteering in labs and such. A few weeks ago I went to a koi farm and took samples for SVC monitoring. The opportunities are there even though they are not necessarily advertised.
The Atlantic Vet College in PEI, Canada has a growing aquatics department. They have a Lobster Science Centre and just got a new building for Aquatic Vet med:

"A 21,334 square foot addition on the side of the building will include expansion of the aquatic area on Level 1, as well as new flexible holding areas which will enable AVC researchers to further their aquatic species health research capacity and remain at the forefront of aquatic veterinary sciences."

"expansion of the Aquatic Animal Facility by 8,200 square feet is cause for excitement. AVC is known around the world as the “fish vet school” for its expertise in aquatic health. This expansion will enable our researchers to further their aquatic health research capacity and remain at the forefront of aquatic sciences."
 

mhlaur

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I just noticed, however, that AVC would cost you $193,000 while UF is $93,000 if you're instate. Might have a good chance of getting into AVC with the limited vet experience though. Animal/vet experience counts for 10% of total evaluation. I would think they would love to have more aquatic vet students because there can't be that many doing that.
 

philomycus

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UF specifically offers a certificate in aquatic medicine.

Contrary, I think the MS degree helps your chances. It sure as heck can't hurt now can it??

I think getting small animal/large animal clinical experience should be your focus to diversity your app.