wildlifer

LVT hopeful
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Sep 12, 2015
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I'm I would like to know what people think of my current experiences as of right now. I'm still a ways from applying but am curious to know where you think I might be lacking? Any insight would be great!

Veterinary experience
~1600 hours lab animal. I worked in a medical lab at UVM (my first undergrad) after I graduated. I did mostly cage washing, stocking, dealt with the carcasses etc. I also did basic husbandry of the animals during weekend and holiday shifts or if someone called out. The head of this lab was the college's veterinarian.

~258 hours wildlife and continuing. I am currently working along side a wildlife veterinarian on a loon restoration project.

Animal experience
~320 hours large animal, specifically cows. I worked the summer after high school at a dairy farm milking cows.
~128 hours companion, specifically greyhounds. I was a volunteer in college for Volunteers in Action:pets Helping People. We would go to a local greyhound rescue every weekend during the school year to walk the dogs and to also bring them to local nursing homes.
~168 hours mixed/exotic. I worked one summer at a summer science camp that actually had over 100 species of animals and the counselors were required to help take care of them during the summer.
~1240 hours wildlife: Common Loons. Past two summers I have been working as a field biologist surveying loons and monitoring their nesting activity.
~480 hours wildlife: raptors. Spent a summer conducting raptor point count surveys
~1320 hours wildlife: songbirds. spent a few different summers working with a variety of songbirds and conducting surveys, nest searches, etc.

Non-wildlife/animal experience
  • Front desk
  • Cook/kitchen aid
  • Camp teacher at an environmental summer camp
  • 6 months in the HealthCorps of AmeriCorps
  • Call center rep for medical insurance claims
 
Jan 18, 2006
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Veterinarian
Yeah I'd try to sneak in some clinical work too.

Would those survey things be more research experience do you think? Or were you actually working with/handling/etc the animals?

Also, were you working directly with the lab animal veterinarian? Because most of what you describe is maintenance/husbandry which I'm not sure would count as actual veterinary experience.
 
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wildlifer

wildlifer

LVT hopeful
2+ Year Member
Sep 12, 2015
195
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Non-Student
Yeah I'd try to sneak in some clinical work too.

Would those survey things be more research experience do you think? Or were you actually working with/handling/etc the animals?

Also, were you working directly with the lab animal veterinarian? Because most of what you describe is maintenance/husbandry which I'm not sure would count as actual veterinary experience.

They most definitely could be considered research. Three summers worth were working for graduate students and it was for their thesis. The other times were for non profits conducting research. But I also did do some handling as we needed to catch the birds to put bands on them and one summer we were putting radio transmitters on them. Would it still count as research even though it's not MY research?

My understanding of veterinary experience was that if it was supervised by a veterinarian than it was considered veterinary experience. While I didn't work with her on a day to day basis, she was in weekly for our staff meetings. She was in charge of everyone there. But she was also the veterinarian for the entire university, so she was pretty busy overall.
 

cheathac

Purdue c/o 2021!!!
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Apr 19, 2015
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I have a similar situation regarding classifying my experience. I just emailed my admissions committee. I work in vet lab as an animal caretaker, even though I do work with a veterinarian occasionally (had to report an animal to her the other day) admissions said to count it as animal experience. I also work in a diagnostic lab in histology for pathologists, I come into contact with them on a daily basis assisting them in any way I can. They said to count this as veterinary and the admissions committee can decide if they think it's vet experience. So just email admissions. Made my life easier.
 
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hazelmoo

Class of 2020!
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Aug 2, 2015
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Yeah I'd try to sneak in some clinical work too.

Would those survey things be more research experience do you think? Or were you actually working with/handling/etc the animals?

Also, were you working directly with the lab animal veterinarian? Because most of what you describe is maintenance/husbandry which I'm not sure would count as actual veterinary experience.
I was going to say the same thing!
 

hazelmoo

Class of 2020!
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Aug 2, 2015
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They most definitely could be considered research. Three summers worth were working for graduate students and it was for their thesis. The other times were for non profits conducting research. But I also did do some handling as we needed to catch the birds to put bands on them and one summer we were putting radio transmitters on them. Would it still count as research even though it's not MY research?

My understanding of veterinary experience was that if it was supervised by a veterinarian than it was considered veterinary experience. While I didn't work with her on a day to day basis, she was in weekly for our staff meetings. She was in charge of everyone there. But she was also the veterinarian for the entire university, so she was pretty busy overall.
I would still consider that as research experience, not animal. I work with reptiles and amphibians in a lab, and when I was considering surveys as my research project, I would have considered it research! Also, I would consider husbandry in a lab as animal experience, since you weren't directly working with a vet. You can always mention that you had occasional contact with them in the description though!
 

Minnerbelle

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Apr 2, 2009
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At the end of the day though, I don't think it really matters what it's
classified as. It's not like people are ranked in admissions based off of the number of vet hours they had. It matters what the experience entailed. It doesn't change the fact that OP's experience was animal husbandry regardless of how it's classified as. Classifying it as such wouldn't change the recommendation that OP might want get some clinical experience. What's the difference between this and kennel attendant work in a vet hospital which counts as veterinary experience. I would argue not much. Would anyone really say that OP was likely immersed in lab animal medicine, no not really. Anyone in admissions would likely know how lab animal facilities work, and what each job description entails.

But as stated before, the only opinions that really matter are the people who make admissions decisions and are going to be evaluating the applications.
 
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pinkpuppy9

Illinois c/o 2019
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Oct 20, 2013
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At the end of the day though, I don't think it really matters what it's
classified as. It's not like people are ranked in admissions based off of the number of vet hours they had. It matters what the experience entailed. It doesn't change the fact that OP's experience was animal husbandry regardless of how it's classified as. Classifying it as such wouldn't change the recommendation that OP might want get some clinical experience. What's the difference between this and kennel attendant work in a vet hospital which counts as veterinary experience. I would argue not much. Would anyone really say that OP was likely immersed in lab animal medicine, no not really. Anyone in admissions would likely know how lab animal facilities work, and what each job description entails.

But as stated before, the only opinions that really matter are the people who make admissions decisions and are going to be evaluating the applications.
This is a good point. I think a lot of applicants (myself included) get hung up on categorizing their experiences and asking "But what about the vet I saw once a week? That's veterinary, right?" It's great to categorize experiences as accurately as possible, but that never means the schools will go with what you put. What some people classify as research (working in a research lab, but only cleaning up) is probably more along the lines of regular employment. Lab animal husbandry is usually animal experience, even if you had to follow strict protocols for feeding, handling, etc. This also varies from school to school. Some might give it to you as research, others are incredibly picky about what they consider research experience (one school told me "you don't have real research experience unless you've been published.")

The same goes for kennel work. In some clinics, a kennel assistant is directly supervised by a veterinarian. Technically, this is veterinary experience based off of VMCAS instructions. Is it as 'veterinary' as being an assistant/tech? Not in my opinion. Different experiences are 'worth more' than others in the same category. Remember quality, not quantity.

I think clinical experience should be your next step, too. Also, consider contacting the schools you're interested in and see how they feel about your experience (do they consider it research?). Mis-categorizing is not the end of the world, but you may get a better idea of where you actually stand, should they tell you to change up how you categorize some things.
 
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wildlifer

wildlifer

LVT hopeful
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Thank you all for your responses. I definitely think you all are right in terms of me getting actual clinical experience. I'm hoping this fall/winter I can possibly work at a local clinic or at the very least volunteer.

I was trying to categorize it based off what I read online. https://portal.vmcas.org/vmcasHelpPages/instructions/experiences/index.html
But you raised a good point, pinkpuppy9, in that some schools may be more particular than others. I will be sure to ask admissions about this along with my ever growing list of other questions to ask :).
 

kcoughli

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Jan 8, 2013
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Alternatively, you could separate the job into separate experiences. Example, if the lab animal vet came in and did rounds with the husbandry staff for 1 hour a week, you could tally all of those hours and separately list it as veterinary experience and put the rest of the work under animal experience. Either way though, the schools will either count it as one thing or the other based on how they classify things so at the end of the day it doesn't matter too much :).
 

pinkpuppy9

Illinois c/o 2019
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Thank you all for your responses. I definitely think you all are right in terms of me getting actual clinical experience. I'm hoping this fall/winter I can possibly work at a local clinic or at the very least volunteer.

I was trying to categorize it based off what I read online. https://portal.vmcas.org/vmcasHelpPages/instructions/experiences/index.html
But you raised a good point, pinkpuppy9, in that some schools may be more particular than others. I will be sure to ask admissions about this along with my ever growing list of other questions to ask :).
For being as clear as they seem, a lot of experiences are hard to categorize via the VMCAS instructions. A lot of the fuzziness comes in when you have an experience where a vet pops in and out occasionally. You can definitely split them up like Kcoughli suggested. To me, research experience needs a better definition than the one they offer. I just don't think cleaning up in a lab is research. To some extent, I have a hard time seeing data collection as research, too (unless you participated in the project design, data evaluation, etc.). Again, these are only my opinions. The school opinions are what really matter.
 

batsenecal

U of I c/o 2021
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Nov 22, 2013
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Thank you all for your responses. I definitely think you all are right in terms of me getting actual clinical experience. I'm hoping this fall/winter I can possibly work at a local clinic or at the very least volunteer.
I found the best way for me to get clinical experience was to work as a vet assistant in a clinic. You're more likely to be supervised by the vet and you'll get more hands on. Now, granted, that varies from experience to experience. One I worked I was doing blood draws, catheters, x-rays, assisting in surgery and did a dental cleaning myself. Another started out really good with assisting with surgeries, but as time went on I was moved to reception and got hardly any experience with the medical aspect (but did I get a crash course in working as a receptionist in an understaffed/undermanaged clinic!).
 
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wildlifer

wildlifer

LVT hopeful
2+ Year Member
Sep 12, 2015
195
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For being as clear as they seem, a lot of experiences are hard to categorize via the VMCAS instructions. A lot of the fuzziness comes in when you have an experience where a vet pops in and out occasionally. You can definitely split them up like Kcoughli suggested. To me, research experience needs a better definition than the one they offer. I just don't think cleaning up in a lab is research. To some extent, I have a hard time seeing data collection as research, too (unless you participated in the project design, data evaluation, etc.). Again, these are only my opinions. The school opinions are what really matter.
I agree with you on the research section. All of my experience with wildlife has been research related. Three summers were for graduate students and their thesis/dissertation. And the past two summers have been for a non profit on a long term research study on loon populations. Part of me doesn't feel it counts as research because I'm not the one analyzing the data or writing the reports. I'm essentially just collecting the data for the people who need the data.

I found the best way for me to get clinical experience was to work as a vet assistant in a clinic. You're more likely to be supervised by the vet and you'll get more hands on. Now, granted, that varies from experience to experience. One I worked I was doing blood draws, catheters, x-rays, assisting in surgery and did a dental cleaning myself. Another started out really good with assisting with surgeries, but as time went on I was moved to reception and got hardly any experience with the medical aspect (but did I get a crash course in working as a receptionist in an understaffed/undermanaged clinic!).
I agree and have tried getting in as an assistant multiple times and have always been turned down for this reason or that. I did apply for a vet assistant/receptionist position that is about 30 minutes from my hometown and it's actually for a holistic veterinarian. I am also trying to figure out what is going on this fall with my current employer. I'm a seasonal biologist for a non profit right now and I had expected that I was going to be done with them until next summer and rumor has it they want me on for a few more projects and some of which would involve me assisting two vets with sea duck surgeries implanting radio transmitters (how awesome would that be?!) Either way, I'm hoping to get in a clinic sometime this year. If it boils down to volunteering I have no problem with that just as long as I can actually get some valuable experience and not just be the free janitor that cleans for them, as that was my last experience volunteering for a vet clinic, which turned me off from it for a while. But the flame is burning hotter than ever now and I'm more determined to get these experiences somehow, someway! Anyway, sorry for the tangent. And thanks for the input, much appreciated!