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Pre-Vet Veterinary Experiences?

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Bamboo21

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Hello!

I am a post-bacc pre-vet student. I have about 1.5 more years to gain experience before I apply.

I grew up showing horses around the country and have gained a little over 500 hours shadowing equine vets in the past 8 months. I also have about 150 hours volunteering in animal rescues and fostering sick dogs.

Now I have an internship at the zoo, which is awesome. I'll have a chance to extend from the original 3 months up to 9 months if I do well. I'm not under a vet now, but could be next semester.

My question is, should I try to keep this zoo internship going as long as I can, or should I be looking for more small animal experience? Production animal? Research? Or something else? I'll be taking courses every semester (even all summer) to finish my pre-reqs, so I can't juggle too much as grades are my first priority.

I'm pretty set on doing equine, but I want to keep an open mind, and I want to be a well rounded candidate. I feel like 1.5 years isn't very long so I want to make sure I have a good plan going forward.

Does anyone have advice on what I should prioritize over the next year and a half?

Thanks to everyone on here who gives feedback!
 

Blueangel7

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It is really up to what you want to practice. All of my experience was either at zoos, aquariums, and in small animal practices. At some schools this helped me and in others it hurt me. For example: UF did not offer my an interview and when I had a file review, the thing that counted against me the most was that I did not have any equine experience. On the other end, I had interviews at multiple other schools who did not care about equine experience and instead was impressed with my zoo and aquarium experiences. If you can, I would try and get some small animal experience, even if it is just shadowing at a small animal practice once a week. It was help a significant amount while in school because you will recognize different diseases and can make connections from what you have seen in clinics. Personally, I did this by shadowing at an emergency animal clinic (the hours worked out best with my schedule).
 

Bamboo21

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It is really up to what you want to practice. All of my experience was either at zoos, aquariums, and in small animal practices. At some schools this helped me and in others it hurt me. For example: UF did not offer my an interview and when I had a file review, the thing that counted against me the most was that I did not have any equine experience. On the other end, I had interviews at multiple other schools who did not care about equine experience and instead was impressed with my zoo and aquarium experiences. If you can, I would try and get some small animal experience, even if it is just shadowing at a small animal practice once a week. It was help a significant amount while in school because you will recognize different diseases and can make connections from what you have seen in clinics. Personally, I did this by shadowing at an emergency animal clinic (the hours worked out best with my schedule).
Wow thank you so much for the thoughtful response. I think I will try to get some weekly hours with a small animal clinic too then. Did you also have a lot of research experience?
 

Blueangel7

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Wow thank you so much for the thoughtful response. I think I will try to get some weekly hours with a small animal clinic too then. Did you also have a lot of research experience?

Not really. One of the internships I did at the aquarium was in the Education department and they were doing research projects so I counted it as research but I was not a main participant or anything in the project. It was a fish population study in the Bay area and since I was working on the boat I was technically participating in research. I didn't do anything else with the project. If the zoo you are interning at is doing some research, see if you can help out with one of the projects. Even if it is not a project that will be written up in a journal. For example: the zoo I interned at was keeping track of the daily enrichment given to the animals and how they interacted with it and on what level. This is technically research, it was just more of a local research project vs a scientific research project.
 

Bamboo21

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Not really. One of the internships I did at the aquarium was in the Education department and they were doing research projects so I counted it as research but I was not a main participant or anything in the project. It was a fish population study in the Bay area and since I was working on the boat I was technically participating in research. I didn't do anything else with the project. If the zoo you are interning at is doing some research, see if you can help out with one of the projects. Even if it is not a project that will be written up in a journal. For example: the zoo I interned at was keeping track of the daily enrichment given to the animals and how they interacted with it and on what level. This is technically research, it was just more of a local research project vs a scientific research project.
You are so helpful! Thank you so much for all the feedback!! I'll definitely see how I can get into the research side at the zoo. Best wishes to you on your vet med journey
 

DVM-2023

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Veterinary schools want to see that you have a real world understanding of the profession so obviously you need to have a considerable amount of "veterinary experience." That being said I think vet schools more and more are looking for diversity in their incoming classes. I think this is due to an overall lack of diversity in the field of veterinary medicine be it gender, socioeconomic background, race, and even career interests. I also think that veterinary admission committees are realizing how much this diversity can contribute the advancement of the field by bringing in people that have more varied backgrounds, interests, and ideas on how the profession can be improved where gaps exist. Therefore, I think that while it is important to get those veterinary hours, it is also important to demonstrate your capacity for being able to branch out of your comfort zone and also show genuine interest in learning new things. For me this meant working as an academic tutor for foster children in one of my local school districts, or helping out with drug testing at livestock shows, or taking part as a research assistant in a study looking at dairy cattle welfare in addition to getting those traditional veterinary experience hours.

The majority of people you're competing with are going to have many many hours of veterinary experience be it in small animal, livestock, equine, or zoo animal medicine. Try to make it your goal to demonstrate what makes you different and perhaps, more interesting, than the typical applicant.

That's my two cents! Good luck.

Also forgot to mention, it never hurts to shoot an email to or call the schools you are hoping to apply to and pick their brains about what it is that they value in their admitted students. I did this for several schools I applied to and I always had a positive response from those individuals I spoke to.
 
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Bamboo21

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Veterinary schools want to see that you have a real world understanding of the profession so obviously you need to have a considerable amount of "veterinary experience." That being said I think vet schools more and more are looking for diversity in their incoming classes. I think this is due to an overall lack of diversity in the field of veterinary medicine be it gender, socioeconomic background, race, and even career interests. I also think that veterinary admission committees are realizing how much this diversity can contribute the advancement of the field by bringing in people that have more varied backgrounds, interests, and ideas on how the profession can be improved where gaps exist. Therefore, I think that while it is important to get those veterinary hours, it is also important to demonstrate your capacity for being able to branch out of your comfort zone and also show genuine interest in learning new things. For me this meant working as an academic tutor for foster children in one of my local school districts, or helping out with drug testing at livestock shows, or taking part as a research assistant in a study looking at dairy cattle welfare in addition to getting those traditional veterinary experience hours.

The majority of people you're competing with are going to have many many hours of veterinary experience be it in small animal, livestock, equine, or zoo animal medicine. Try to make it your goal to demonstrate what makes you different and perhaps, more interesting, than the typical applicant.

That's my two cents! Good luck.

Also forgot to mention, it never hurts to shoot an email to or call the schools you are hoping to apply to and pick their brains about what it is that they value in their admitted students. I did this for several schools I applied to and I always had a positive response from those individuals I spoke to.

Wow this is also super helpful! I will keep all this in mind. Luckily I did work in the legal field for about 2 years before starting my post bac, so hopefully that is something a little different than the majority of candidates. I worked in immigration and for a nonprofit, so I plan to tie my desire to help people in humanitarian fields to helping people and their animals in the veterinary field.

I think I'm going to see if I can work with the zoo vet next semester to get those hours up. I'm gonna need a lot more of that to be competitive!

I also had no idea you could just contact admissions like that, I'll definitely be trying that! Thanks so much for your feedback :)
 

DVM-2023

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Wow this is also super helpful! I will keep all this in mind. Luckily I did work in the legal field for about 2 years before starting my post bac, so hopefully that is something a little different than the majority of candidates. I worked in immigration and for a nonprofit, so I plan to tie my desire to help people in humanitarian fields to helping people and their animals in the veterinary field.

I think I'm going to see if I can work with the zoo vet next semester to get those hours up. I'm gonna need a lot more of that to be competitive!

I also had no idea you could just contact admissions like that, I'll definitely be trying that! Thanks so much for your feedback :)
I would say that is a pretty interesting background. I knew one girl who co owned a bakery for several years before getting into vet school. It goes to show you that the traditional applicant is not so traditional these days.
 
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Bamboo21

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That's amazing! It definitely seems like a more diverse background tends to be favorable these days. Having perspective is a good thing
 
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