jtom

5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2009
382
1
91
Status
Pre-Veterinary
I decided recently to pursue veterinary medicine. I have some research hours but no animal/veterinary experience, so I am naturally looking for experience. I was unsure how to go about obtaining volunteer work. I read the accepted applicant thread and it appears everyone has small animal clinic volunteer/paid work.

I called a local vet hospital and was able to talk to the vet. He said there was a liability issue and I could not volunteer under any circumstances but I could shadow him. He went on to say that if I find any hospital that does allow me to volunteer that I should not do it as they must not be a reputable place.

So maybe I am approaching this the wrong way but are all the hours of experience you guys have paid positions? Now I am going to call a few other places but this guy definetly suprised me. Any recommendations of other types of establishments I could call would be helpful. Obvously I need at least one place with a vet for a recommendation.

Now I do live about an hour from my states veterinary school; would they be more open to volunteering as they are a teaching facility? I do apologize if I am going about this the wrong way, I am not sure if I am doing it in the appropriate manner.

Thanks!
 

HopefulAg

Texas A&M CVM c/o 2014!
10+ Year Member
Dec 18, 2007
2,378
18
251
Status
Veterinarian
Shadowing counts as experience. Paid is always preferred (by the student; the schools don't care) but you take what you can get at times. Plus Shadowing leads to paid for most people and is how a lot of people start out. Either that, or you go in through the kennel route.

You could ask the vet if you could sign a waiver and volunteer that way if you just really want to volunteer with that clinic. But if you got a green light on shadowing, I'd start doing that. A lot of places don't even let you shadow it seems.
 

DVMDream

Don't disturb the snowflakes
7+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2009
38,297
25,460
181
The Dragon School
Status
Veterinarian
There are liability issues with people volunteering. Basically if you get injured while there and the vet was letting you touch the animals he could easily wind up in a massive lawsuit. It is great that you found a place that will let you shadow. That experience will be considered veterinary experience. Be sure to make the most of it though, ask lots of questions and really get a feel for the job while you are there. It is probably best to walk into places and drop off resumes or CV's that way you can talk face to face with someone even if it is not the vet and then follow up with a phone call either later that evening or the next morning. Good Luck. :luck:
 

jtom

5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2009
382
1
91
Status
Pre-Veterinary
I would of course prefer to get paid but I thought it would increase my chances of getting experience if I did it for free. I believe the liablity issue he talked about might be in reference to his liability, like if something went wrong with a patient and I was there- not so much if I get hurt on the job.

He definetly said i could shadow. However, he definetly made it clear that shadowing was not a long term thing; he said he would call me the next day he has something interesting going on (surgery). So I guess its not like he thinks of shadowing as more then a 1-2 day thing.

I have had experiences like this in the past. Before becoming interested in vet med I was looking at becoming a physician. I did the same thing, called hospitals/offices and got very rude responses from secretaries, several said it would be HIPPA viololations and I never did get to volunteer or shadow anyone.

I guess I dont understand how I can get significant hours by shadowing this guy. While i will definetly do it, I dont think I could find enough vets that allow shadowing for me to get respectable hours. It seems shadowing is a rare occurence as is. I really wanted to start getting experience immediately, I thought volunteering would be the easiest route to take.
 

cRose

OSU CVM c/o 2013
10+ Year Member
Feb 6, 2009
134
1
0
Cbus OH!O
Status
Veterinary Student
Most of what I'm about to say will echo the words of HopefulAg, but oh well!

I'm sure if we took a poll of most of the folks on here, most will attest to having at least some unpaid hours of experience, probably in the form of shadowing.

For me, summer shadowing was an opportunity to get my foot in the door at a busy clinic, and as the vets and staff got to know me, they allowed me to do more and more in the clinic (despite "liability" issues). Don't get me wrong, that first summer I was mainly clipping toenails, restraining, and sitting with an animal or two while they got fluids, practicing my skills at microscope fecal exams and more than anything, merely WATCHING it all, but hey, it was definitely better than nothing. Anyhow, they ended up hiring me after that summer.

So like HopefulAg said, shadowing often leads to a paid position if you make a good impression and seem dedicated, interested, and enthusiastic. Tip: you'll earn MAJOR brownie points if you take it upon yourself to clean up messes.

Shadowing = unpaid, true, and that sucks (ugh believe me, I know; I had to get a part-time job at a doughnut shop that summer!), but there ARE some benefits to shadowing: you get to follow the vet ALL day, which you simply cannot do if a paid staff member. This means that you can observe all interactions with clients and patients, and all surgeries. I really missed this privilege once I got hired as an employee.

If I were you, I'd be all over the shadowing opportunity. Once you feel comfortable enough with the staff and the clinic in general, you should consider asking for a paid position if one isn't already offered to you. Hope this helps!
 

twelvetigers

stabby cat
10+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2008
18,400
9,498
281
TTown
Status
Veterinarian
You have to get started somewhere. Keep looking around for experience, but this sounds like a foot in the door, so take it! Just try and move on/up from there.
 

DVMDream

Don't disturb the snowflakes
7+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2009
38,297
25,460
181
The Dragon School
Status
Veterinarian
There could also be the liability of a patient getting injured while you are there too and that could turn out badly as well. I would still call around and visit clinics. Some place may let you volunteer but it will probably be cleaning kennels and restocking the clinic. We have some high school kids every once in a while that have to observe a job that they are interested in doing for school credit. So they will come in and observe and do some cleaning and restocking of syringes and needles and stuff. They are not allowed to touch any animals at all though. Keep checking around you may be able to find a veterinarian that will let you shadow for more than 1-2 days. This veterinarian could potentially allow you to shadow more too if he realizes how interested you are in the field and sees how it will benefit you to shadow for longer. It will take some time but keep looking. If all else fails find a job as a kennel assistant and then see if you can move up to a veterinary assistant (this is how it worked for me).
 

lalzi22

The OSU CVM c/o 2014!!
Nov 10, 2009
623
11
0
Status
Veterinary Student
To echo what everyone else is saying, my MAJOR contributor to vet hours started as unpaid shadowing. I shadowed for around 15-20 hours a week for free for an entire summer. Slowly, they let me do more than just mop up in between surgeries, and slowly they began to trust me with bigger things. After the summer they said they would love to have me back and pay me. I worked there (and still am) for more than 4 years, paid and have gotten to be the tech in surgeries, help with pre-post op care, give fluids, injections, help in appointments...as well as still mopping the floors. haha. It really is all about getting your foot in the door and slowly earning trust.
 

jtom

5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2009
382
1
91
Status
Pre-Veterinary
I guess I am a little confused. I have called a few other hospitals in town and have gotten a few shadowing offers. However, they all say I can shadow for one day, half day, etc, not 15-20hrs a week for the summer. I guess at least at the places near me it seems they view shadowing as a one time deal and not doing anything but watching them. I have also found a few hospitals that do allow volunteering, I am going to fill out applications tommorow. However, I am afraid that I might not have any contact with animals, I will have to ask them about it more when I get there. Most of the ones that said they do volunteer work said they dont need anyone.

In addition, everytime i call someone and inquire about shadowing/volunteering, they seem to get very uncomfortable with the issue. Its almost if I am asking them something inappropriate in a way.

While I can definetly pursue other things as suggested (shelter), I need to have letters from a vet so I have to eventually work alongside a vet long term at some point. I also called my states vet program and they do not allow shadowing/volunteering.
 
May 13, 2009
25
0
0
Status
Pre-Veterinary
First off, I would say -- be confident! It's awkward asking about volunteering, and it can be awkward for them to say no. Keep trying. It took me many, many hospitals before I got my first volunteer position. I just finally stumbled on one with an office manager who was into helping pre-vets. Some vets like to have students around to talk to and teach and others do not. In most cases its a personality issue.

There is liability, that's definitely true. However, I think the vet you are describing is smokin something if he's saying that somewhere that lets you volunteer is "disreputable". I volunteered for a whole summer with 3 9 hour shifts per week. The hospital was very aware of their liability and I was not allowed to do anything beyond the simplest restraint in easy situations. However, I watched 65+ surgeries and attended lots of interesting exams. In return for this shadowing experience, I did laundry, washed dishes, mopped the floors, and did the filing.

I'm now a tech in an exotic animal clinic and I can say our volunteers are TOTALLY critical to our success. They do all the dirty work -- cleaning cages, washing dishes, etc -- but they get to see all the cool stuff we do too. Being a volunteer is a good way to get your foot in the door. So don't give up! You will find a vet who will see it as a productive relationship. Just don't be afraid to be honest about what you are doing and what you are looking for. Good luck!
 
Jan 13, 2010
35
1
41
Status
Pre-Veterinary
Shadowing definitely counts as experience, so take the vet you've spoken to up on it.

But don't overlook other types of animal experience--volunteering at shelters, rescue organizations, a zoo, or wildlife rehab are all good, and expose you to different aspects of vetmed.

I probably won't be able to finish my prereqs and apply until 2012, but I just started volunteering at the local zoo and it's fascinating. There's no hands-on animal contact; volunteers who work on animal units do the grunt-work of cleaning cages and preparing food. But it's a great way to learn how zoos operate, and what day-to-day care of the animals involves, as well as picking up a lot of firsthand knowledge of individual species. I hadn't really considered exotics or zoo med before--I'd automatically assumed I'd go into SA, and maybe specialize in feline med--but it's now a definite possibility.

In another month I'm also going to start volunteering for the local humane society's intake and vet services department (since I can already do simple things like administer sub-q fluids and injections); not only will that qualify as animal experience, but vet exprience as well. And eventually I'd also like to give wildlife rehab a try; there's always hands-on experience to be gained there.

So definitely shadow with the vet, but also look for other ways to get animal experience. Just about every organization that deals directly with animals and their welfare needs reliable, committed volunteers, and depending on the organization you might be able to get significant vet experience. Plus, you get to meet cool people with similar interests, which doesn't hurt. :D
 

rugbychick16

KSU CVM Class of 2012
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2009
280
3
91
33
South Dakota
Status
Veterinarian
The vet you talked with may have been referring to the fact that many people frown upon the term "volunteer" in a for-profit business. Non-profits such as shelters can have volunteers, but for profit clinics "technically" shouldn't, because it might be considered a form of exploitation/unfair gain for the business.

(Not saying I agree, I just dealt with this type of situation before and this is how it was explained to me in legal terms)

The proper term should be shadowing, interning or externing, observing, etc. That way its considered you exchanging your time doing some cleaning/other menial tasks for the clinic letting you watch surgeries or follow the vet around. Or observing could mean you doing absolutely nothing at all, and just watching, so the business is not gaining from you being there.
 

ATX00

Texas A&M CVM c/o 2015!
Nov 20, 2009
116
0
0
Status
Veterinary Student
I would also recommend that instead of calling places, type up a cover letter about what you're hoping to do, and deliver the letter with your resume to clinics in person. Don't waste a bunch of their time if they're busy of course, but I think people may take you more seriously face-to-face. :)

Like others have said, do anything you can to get your foot in the door. If a friend of a friend of a friend knows a vet tech, try to get someone to pull some strings for you. Once you have a little experience under your belt, a lot more vets will be willing to give you a shot.
 

lalzi22

The OSU CVM c/o 2014!!
Nov 10, 2009
623
11
0
Status
Veterinary Student
However, I am afraid that I might not have any contact with animals, I will have to ask them about it more when I get there.
When I started my job, I was a kennel worker- meaning I fed animals, walked them, mopped floors, cleaned cages and thats it. If it was slow, I was allowed to observe (only observe) a surgery or dr/patient interaction etc... Again, the longer I worked there, I would ask for more and more responsibility. I would ask to learn things, and sometimes they would say maybe later, but I did learn more and more until now. I still am technically a kennel worker according to our formal job descriptions, but what I actually am is more of a tech-in-training based on what I am allowed/can do. Can't say it enough, its about a foot in the door and LOTS of trust.
 

Royal811

5+ Year Member
Jan 11, 2010
30
0
91
Minnesota
Status
Pre-Veterinary
I'm in somewhat of the same boat as the OP. I firmly decided on wanting to go to vet school last semester (I'm a sophomore in college) and I'm desperately trying to get some vet experience. I still have a couple summers to gain it, but I really am worried that it won't be enough. :( :scared:

I do have a couple of SA clinics that seem willing to take me on, though. One thing that worked was asking people I knew for help. My favorite clinic is one that was recommended to me by my grandmother, who heard about the clinic from a lady in her carpool, who asked the vet if I could shadow there. Sort of a long convoluted road, but if it works, it works. :thumbup:
 

heylodeb

Small Animal Medicine & Surgery Intern
7+ Year Member
Oct 22, 2009
1,698
97
171
CA
Status
Veterinarian
long one...sorry!

I was at my wit's end around this time last year. I had spent a YEAR (yes..like 365 days) trying to find a clinic that was interested in helping me. I'm pretty sure every single vet clinic in Sacramento has my resume floating around somewhere. (and this was with PREVIOUS experience as a receptionist!) Everybody said the EXACT thing when I talked to them, "We have hundreds of resumes just like yours and we don't have the money to hire you. We also cannot allow you to volunteer due to liability reasons." Frustrated wasn't even the beginning of how I felt!

However, things finally clicked. I had purposefully not asked the vet hospital where my dog was treated because I wanted to make sure that there wouldn't be awkwardness if they turned me down. (weird, I know..my brain is different) Finally I brought my resume in when my vet was doing a check up and told her what I wanted to do. She about jumped all over me explaining how she thought I had great potential and that they would love to have me volunteer at their clinic.

After 3 months, I had a job doing kennels on the weekend. Now, I have moved up to "back-up" tech whenever someone isn't able to make it in. Most of the time I am working off the clock. I get to do EVERYTHING that is legal for someone who isn't registered. Vaccinations, fluids, surgery monitoring and recovery, TPR's, labs, blood draws, the works...

I say all this because I want to make a point. It's about WHO you know. GO see the vet in PERSON. Ask your family about their vets that they've been loyal to and ask them to call and talk to them about who you are and what you need. Work any connection you have.

Quite honestly, I believe that my lack of ability to find enough vet experience (400 or so hours) is a major reason why I didn't get in this time.

Sorry for the novel..at my tutoring job with no students and bored out of my mind!
 

nyanko

total trash mammal
10+ Year Member
Sep 8, 2006
8,811
3,135
281
CoMo
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I got a paid position as a veterinary assistant (doing tech duties but not licensed) at a vet clinic my first time applying because I had a lot of hours volunteering at a shelter. At the shelter I started out with kennel work and moved on to helping with stuff like drawing up vaccines. Next I moved to helping to actually restrain for giving vaccines and then actually was allowed to give the vaccines myself. Then I started helping out in the spay/neuter clinic. So I had some rudimentary tech and animal handling skills that turned out to be pretty marketable.

Maybe if you have a shelter in your area that has a decent spay/neuter program you can get your foot in the door that way to make yourself more attractive to vet clinics, even as kennel help. They do have a lot of people applying for those jobs!
 

DVMDream

Don't disturb the snowflakes
7+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2009
38,297
25,460
181
The Dragon School
Status
Veterinarian
I started off as a kennel worker as well. One of my friends in high school worked at the vet clinic that I am currently at. My senior year of high school she told me that they had an opening for a kennel technician unfortunately my other friend overheard and got the job instead of me, but a few months later they called me wanting to hire me. I did all of the cleaning, restocking of equipment and restraining of patients if the other techs were too busy. After 9 months, 9 looong months, I was moved up to a veterinary assistant. I do everything a certified technician would do just without the certification. I monitor anesthesia, give injections, go over estimates with clients, work out payment plans, work as a receptionist, clean (we got rid of the kennel position), restock, do treatments, draw blood, set IV catheters, do cysto's, basically the works and I have no been doing this for nearly 5 years. The only thing I do not do is diagnose and surgery, but hopefully soon.

It really is about gettting your foot in the door and making a positive impression. I agree that getting a few hours one or two days with the vet does not seem like much, but if you can give a good first impression it could end up working out in your favor and giving you a great realtionship with a veterinarian. Look around see if you can find a kennel position. Good Luck!! Tell us how the shadowing goes. :luck:
 

HopefulAg

Texas A&M CVM c/o 2014!
10+ Year Member
Dec 18, 2007
2,378
18
251
Status
Veterinarian
I'm joining the Kennel Worker crowd. Started off just walking, feeding, bathing, and picking up after dogs. When we'd finish our jobs around noon and it was slow, I'd peek out into the actual clinic area. I have to thank one of the older technicians who gave me the 'don't be scared to come out from the back' speech and after that I'd just poke around, see if anyone was doing anything interest/that I didn't know how to do. If they were, I'd ask them to show me how to do it. Eventually I could fill in every now and then for certain procedures (I.E. "The lab person is busy, can anyone run a CBC?" "Yes! I can!") and then one day I was looking to see what days I worked and noticed I was no longer working kennels, they had moved me to lab and "the rest is history".
 

that redhead

7+ Year Member
Feb 26, 2010
10,191
7,860
181
My first "veterinary experience" was shadowing an equine vet one summer in high school. I held patients, draw up vaccines, trotted them out, did a lot of observing. My senior year in high school I was an intern at a small animal hospital, observing but also getting to do things like draw up vaccines, restrain patients, etc. My duties there really grew and I attribute that to a staff that was really trusting in me and really open to teaching me any/everything I wanted to know. I went back on breaks from college to work (paid). I worked as a research assistant/animal caretaker first unpaid then paid. I heard about that through a class I was taking. My current position is taking care of research animals (lots of cleaning, feeding, health checks, etc.), paid. I heard about it through a class as well. I'm also volunteering at a local wildlife rehab center, although I'm -considering- a part-time internship with them, which would allow me to shadow their vet, do treatments, etc.

I'm not sure what your life is like right now, but paid work is the best bargain - experience AND you get paid! Obviously not everyone is hiring, and it can be difficult to get a position if you haven't had animal experience before. You should definitely do some shadowing (that counts as experience), and do your best to find a variety of scenarios. It seems like the majority of applicants have SOME kind of small animal experience, but experience with large animal or exotics or some crazy species living out in the artic wilderness are not necessarily as common. In my opinion, you should really get a variety of experiences (with a variety of animals) to give yourself the best idea of what the field of veterinary medicine is like.

Good luck! :)
 
Last edited:

that redhead

7+ Year Member
Feb 26, 2010
10,191
7,860
181
. If they were, I'd ask them to show me how to do it. Eventually I could fill in every now and then for certain procedures (I.E. "The lab person is busy, can anyone run a CBC?" "Yes! I can!") and then one day I was looking to see what days I worked and noticed I was no longer working kennels, they had moved me to lab and "the rest is history".
I think this is the key to successful experiences: being proactive about things. Don't just sit there like a bump on a log and watch whatever the vet does! Ask questions, try to get your hands in there if possible (listening to a heart, feeling a lump). This will show them that you're interested and tuned in, and probably increase your chances of being considered for something like a full time position.
 

david594

The-OSU CVM c/o 2013
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2007
2,126
34
161
Status
Resident [Any Field]
In addition, everytime i call someone and inquire about shadowing/volunteering, they seem to get very uncomfortable with the issue. Its almost if I am asking them something inappropriate in a way.

While I can definetly pursue other things as suggested (shelter), I need to have letters from a vet so I have to eventually work alongside a vet long term at some point. I also called my states vet program and they do not allow shadowing/volunteering.
I think Rugbychick hit the nail on the head with why places get uncomfortable. Volunteers aren't really a legit thing in the for-profit setting. And I would guess the fear is more about you getting hurt than you hurting a patient. Its easy for them to tell you not to touch anything to protect the animals, but you try and pet one animal and it bites you and thats the end of everything. Their workmans comp insurance won't cover your injuries, and it leaves he liability solely on you.

Don't write off shelters completely until you have checked them out. Many shelters employ vets (either part time or full time) and if you can get in volunteering with the vet staff, you can learn tons. I had hundreds of hours of experience working in a shelter and loved it. If I had started there earlier in the application cycle I would have definitely asked the shelter vet for a letter of recommendation. I had also made connections through there with other vets that could have led to more experiences if I had needed them.
 

der2002

MSU CVM 2014
Jan 17, 2010
266
1
0
Status
Veterinary Student
My experiences have been similar to most of the ones discussed here. started shadowing my own vet and several months later...that led to a vet tech position at their hospital.

Other experiences I've had that have been instrumental in learning about vet med: wildlife rescue and rehabilitation (playing with a pelican to get him to eat his fish is definitely one of the highlights), shelter work (kennels, spay/neuter clinics), humane education (teaching kids about animal safety and animal welfare), lab animal research for human medicine (worked with mice, rats, pigs and dogs) and shadowing an equine racetrack vet.

I know how frustrating it can be to get rejected from all these opportunities-- I can't even remember how many resumes I had delivered and applications I filled out. Hang in there! Use all your contacts (friends, family, coworkers etc). Look for summer intern positions, some of which have moderate stipends.

For your best chances at getting into vet school, it sounds like you should give yourself a year before applying. Building up a bank of animal/vet experience takes time and you also want the people writing your recommendations to have detailed things to say about you. Also, keep in mind that a lot of volunteer/internship applications might only be available for a select time period (ie: it might be too late to apply for summer internships now, but look into them for next year). Consider traveling to another city for part of the summer if you can afford to do so. Good luck!
 

jtom

5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2009
382
1
91
Status
Pre-Veterinary
Thanks for all the replies! Great experiences!

I will do everything I can to find something, I unfortunately have no connections since I recently moved to a new state and I dont know many people. Just for some background info, I graduated with a bs in biology last year and decided last week to pursue vetmed. I have to take 2-4 courses depending on the school pre-reqs and I have no experience, a situation others have said they are also in. Unfortuantely, becoming a vet was not something I thought about doing until after most applicants do. Im sure you can tell by my urgency that I need something quickly, I would prefer to get a solid year of hours before applying in 2011.

I have one clinic that said they would call me back tommorow regarding shadowing and another said to call them tommorow regarding volunteering. I will next look at kennels/shelters to get another area of experiences going.

Anyone else? Im glad I asked how to get experience as I was not sure how to go about it and what the usual route was.

Thanks!
 

twelvetigers

stabby cat
10+ Year Member
Mar 12, 2008
18,400
9,498
281
TTown
Status
Veterinarian
Vet school apps are due in October, so you won't be able to have a year of experience listed.

ETA: Wait, nevermind. I *can* read, it turns out. Ignore the above. :p
 

August West

solar powered
10+ Year Member
Mar 1, 2009
796
3
0
Davis
Status
Veterinary Student
Anyone else? Im glad I asked how to get experience as I was not sure how to go about it and what the usual route was.

Thanks!
Not sure if this applies to you or many others, but one of the local community colleges out here offers dozens of Animal Science classes with their agriculture department and even boasts a 300 acre animal facility where students can get hands-on experience with equine and large farm animal and poultry vet med under the supervision of the staff veterinarians. They also offer a clinical field work class, in which you volunteer off-site at a hospital, clinic or such and provide the student with liability insurance coverage in return for the 27 bucks per credit he or she pays. Great deal if you can find it. Keep poking around and exhaust all relevant resources. You will find what you need. Good luck.
 
Dec 19, 2009
31
0
0
Status
Pre-Veterinary
Dont feel bad, I ran into this exact problem. No one would take me because of the liability issue. :(

What I ended up doing was volunteering at my local animal shelter walking/feeding dogs etc. As I got to know the people there I explained the experience hours situation and they introduced me to the vet that worked there at the shelter. Long story short I now go there every Friday and do everything from drawing blood/giving shots to watching surgeries. ( All I had to do was take a "sharps class" which was where the manager came in and told me not to poke myself with the syringes and where to throw them away at :)) I have learned a lot and even though it is not a traditional clinical setting, it still counts as veterinary experience.

So, the animal shelter is a good way to get your foot in the door, and most of the time once you have a little experience under your belt it gets easier.

Also talk to some vets about signing the waiver, that may help.
Good Luck!!!
 

der2002

MSU CVM 2014
Jan 17, 2010
266
1
0
Status
Veterinary Student
Not sure if this applies to you or many others, but one of the local community colleges out here offers dozens of Animal Science classes with their agriculture department and even boasts a 300 acre animal facility where students can get hands-on experience with equine and large farm animal and poultry vet med under the supervision of the staff veterinarians. They also offer a clinical field work class, in which you volunteer off-site at a hospital, clinic or such and provide the student with liability insurance coverage in return for the 27 bucks per credit he or she pays. Great deal if you can find it. Keep poking around and exhaust all relevant resources. You will find what you need. Good luck.
pierce! I took 2 pre-req classes and wish I had known about it sooner. Very supportive community, lots of great connections, and Dr. Shapiro is a marvelous advisor.