GoPackers44

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Hello all,

As my first post, I wanted to ask for the advice of my peers on a decision I am trying to make.

To sum things up: I have been accepted into a spot to go on a veterinary "mission" to an exotic animal sanctuary, where dental work will be performed on several captives and a couple of servals. I was originally quoted a tuition cost of $350 for the mission, and was prepared to make cuts to my budget/future spending to be able to cover it. I just found out that the tuition for the 2-day trip will actually be $750. Yikes :/ In short, I have no idea if this opportunity will be worth it. The opportunity is through the Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation (PEIVDF).

I basically worry day and night about the strength of my vet school application (I will be applying this coming cycle), and thought that this would be an extremely valuable asset to add to my list of experiences. I have an internship this coming summer at an exotic animal sanctuary, but won't actually be working in a clinical veterinary setting day-to-day. I do have prior vet experience in a small animal practice and have a few other things as well, and I really wanted to explore this avenue, but I do not think that I am able to justify spending $750 on a 2-day long experience. I have no idea where any other pre-vet students are getting this kind of money to drop on things like this, and it's honestly just more and more discouraging every day. I am digging myself into a pretty huge financial hole, and it seems like I'll never even be able to measure up to my competition.

I am wondering if anybody has had any experience with this kind of thing, and if it would be worth the huge expenditure for me. I simply have no way of knowing if this would be worth it, and cannot find any information elsewhere online. If it would be, I would do everything I could to be able to get the money together. I am desperate for advice here.
 

LyraGardenia

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There's a good recent thread about this topic here: Volunteer Abroad

I don't know anything about that organization specifically, but most of those sorts of trips will take anyone willing to pay, so I don't think admissions would view it as a huge boost to your application. Some of those trips can be a great experience and an interesting talking point for your interviews, but it's absolutely not required to volunteer abroad to get in. If you can't afford it, I would focus on getting vet experience closer to home!
 
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LetItSnow

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Personally, *I* don't think a 2-day experience like that is worth $750.... but it really depends on your future interests. I mean, if you plan to tell an admissions committee that your goal as a vet is to do wildlife dental work, then you probably should have some veterinary experience that backs that up. But that would be a .. uh .. very niche field, to be sure.
 
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vetmedhead

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Hello all,

As my first post, I wanted to ask for the advice of my peers on a decision I am trying to make.

To sum things up: I have been accepted into a spot to go on a veterinary "mission" to an exotic animal sanctuary, where dental work will be performed on several captives and a couple of servals. I was originally quoted a tuition cost of $350 for the mission, and was prepared to make cuts to my budget/future spending to be able to cover it. I just found out that the tuition for the 2-day trip will actually be $750. Yikes :/ In short, I have no idea if this opportunity will be worth it. The opportunity is through the Peter Emily International Veterinary Dental Foundation (PEIVDF).

I basically worry day and night about the strength of my vet school application (I will be applying this coming cycle), and thought that this would be an extremely valuable asset to add to my list of experiences. I have an internship this coming summer at an exotic animal sanctuary, but won't actually be working in a clinical veterinary setting day-to-day. I do have prior vet experience in a small animal practice and have a few other things as well, and I really wanted to explore this avenue, but I do not think that I am able to justify spending $750 on a 2-day long experience. I have no idea where any other pre-vet students are getting this kind of money to drop on things like this, and it's honestly just more and more discouraging every day. I am digging myself into a pretty huge financial hole, and it seems like I'll never even be able to measure up to my competition.

I am wondering if anybody has had any experience with this kind of thing, and if it would be worth the huge expenditure for me. I simply have no way of knowing if this would be worth it, and cannot find any information elsewhere online. If it would be, I would do everything I could to be able to get the money together. I am desperate for advice here.
Just something I want to comment on here, but it seems like your levels of stress and anxiety about getting in may be a bit high. Yes, it is a stressful process and it is totally normal to worry about applications, but some of the bolded things sound like you may be having a harder time with it than the average applicant and I just want to say that it's okay to feel stressed out but it can also be productive and helpful to talk to someone about it. I have a lot of anxiety issues myself and they can be a struggle to deal with, and speaking from experience it is absolutely awful to apply and spend months on end with such a high level of anxiety that you can't sleep/have panic attacks/feel like your heart is being squeezed in somebody's fist. If you ever want to talk to somebody about application stress or anxiety or anything feel free to PM me. :) I will also say that feeling like you don't measure up to your peers is very common, especially in vet med, and those feelings often don't go away without a lot of mindfulness and work (I know many practicing veterinarians who still feel like they don't measure up - and they're wrong). We are often our own worst critics and it can be helpful to remember that when we compare ourselves to others we are often comparing our behind-the-scenes to others' highlight reels.

As for the actual abroad experience, I think it could be take it or leave it. If you think it's a great experience for you and something you really want to do and feel comfortable pursuing, go for it! But it is something that is by no means necessary for your application and if it will cause you undue financial burden you don't have to feel bad about not doing it. $750 is a lot of money for two days, especially for the average pre-vet, and it's ultimately not the end of the world if you don't go. I personally got into veterinary school and have never done any trips like this one (I don't even have a passport lol), so it's definitely not one of those "make you or break you" aspects of an application. Ultimately the decision is yours and there are pros and cons to both going and not going.
 
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Jess Monster

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I should have clarified, this trip is actually only about a 2 hour drive away-not abroad at all! The "tuition" cost is there to cover the cost of treatment, shipping dental instruments, etc... as it is a nn-profit organization. I COULD get the money together to pay it, but it would just be a huge loss for me if the experience was not worth it!

So you're expected to foot the bill for their supplies? That seems weird to me. The volunteer trips I've taken part in usually only charge participants incidental fees related to travel, housing, and food. Like, what would they do if no one could afford to go? Plus, there's a huge difference between $350 and $750 that needs explaining.

Obviously it's your money and time, but were I you, I would get lots of things in writing. I would request an itinerary. I would request that the organization lay out exactly what the money is going to and how it will be spent. I would also get really picky about what they call my contribution because it sounds like I'm a "donor" and not just a volunteer or participant.
 
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TrashPanda

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I simply have no way of knowing if this would be worth it, and cannot find any information elsewhere online. If it would be, I would do everything I could to be able to get the money together.

Define "worth it." If worth it means "it will get me into vet school"- no, it is not worth it because it is highly, highly unlikely that it will be the deciding factor of whether or not you're accepted. If worth it means "fun experience that might be interesting to talk about at interviews"- sure, it could be worth it. Schools might think its kinda neat, but it's unlikely to impress them or increase your chances of getting in.

Whether you go is a personal thing depending on your preferences and finances. Personally, I applied after I'd been working full-time for a while and had saved up a fair amount of money, but there is still no way I'd pay $750 for two days. (I did spend some money on a few veterinary/animal experiences, but much less for much more time and they were personally meaningful as well as helpful for my application.) Definitely do not go into debt or further into debt for this.

Have you posted in the What Are My Chances thread? We may be able to help calm your nerves about your application or make some suggestions for how to improve it without costing you a ton of money!
 
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pinkpuppy9

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So you're expected to foot the bill for their supplies? That seems weird to me. The volunteer trips I've taken part in usually only charge participants incidental fees related to travel, housing, and food. Like, what would they do if no one could afford to go? Plus, there's a huge difference between $350 and $750 that needs explaining.

Obviously it's your money and time, but were I you, I would get lots of things in writing. I would request an itinerary. I would request that the organization lay out exactly what the money is going to and how it will be spent. I would also get really picky about what they call my contribution because it sounds like I'm a "donor" and not just a volunteer or participant.
This was my first thought as well. 'Mission' trips and legit volunteer trips (as opposed to voluntourism...there's a difference in my eyes) typically have you fundraise/crowd source a certain dollar amount to contribute to the supplies for the trip, they don't charge you for them. That being said, you could certainly fundraise your own tuition, but it's just strange that they're charging you such a high amount and not telling you to get sponsors or anything.

I also don't like how they're referring to your costs as "tuition." It's misleading given that you are not sitting through any type of lecture/coursework and are actually just footing the bill for supplies. I will note here that I tend to be critical of trips like this...they are honestly a dime a dozen at this point and many do not live up to the claims they make. I've known far too many eager pre-vets who have forked over thousands of dollars for these trips only to come back disappointed because they were told they would be doing certain things that never happened. Some trips allowed pre-vets to do things that they probably shouldn't have done too (AVMA had a statement on this and everything).

There is a market for it...certain organizations know the right student will pay a premium just to say they did a 'volunteer' trip on their VMCAS. You can never be guaranteed that you will be able to do what the organization claims and $750 is a huge amount for such a short experience. Also, just coming from someone with zoo med experience...I'd be very surprised if this dental organization or even the rescue actually let a pre-vet do anything beyond observe, manually breathe for the cats (which they may not allow a pre-vet to do), and pet the tigers while they're under. Students from my school go every year to help with anesthesia on these cats and even they aren't doing much but taking fun pics with the sleeping cats and taking turns monitoring anesthesia. The process of getting a big cat from its enclosure to the procedure table can be super stressful, and monitoring is an entirely different story (especially tigers). You may get an up close view of some dental issues in a big cat for a few minutes here and there, but again, ask yourself if that's worth $750 to you.
 
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pinkpuppy9

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Another major reason that they give for such a huge cost is the fact that it is a non-profit organization working for other non-profit organizations for free. The "tuition" cost helps to cover the cost for the sanctuary receiving dental care for free from PEIVDF. At the same time, that cost is huge. But, I have no idea where any pre-vet student would be getting that money. I was prepared to eat cheap junk for the forseeable future and make 0 frivolous purchases for the remainder of the year at least to cover the $350, but $750 is just, for lack of better verbage, too much. I guess some people could do it with the support of family. I do not want to say anything negative at all about the foundation, as they are doing very important work! They will just need to find another desperate pre-vet who is able to fork over that much money to observe dentals...lol.
I get it, I just don't see the point in trying to justify something that seems so off. You're volunteering your time, you shouldn't be sent a bill masked as "tuition." It may seem like the same thing at first, but I feel there's a difference in charging you to volunteer vs. telling you to fundraise a certain dollar amount to be able to attend the trip. The vet students from my school that help out on this trip don't pay/fundraise a dime for the drugs, equipment, etc. I agree with the idea that you should be informed of where every penny of your money would be spent.

The rescue does this dental day every year as far as I know. This is definitely the same foundation that did the dentals while Illinois people monitored anesthesia. I think @cloverbug went to the rescue one year, maybe she can shed more light on what you might get to do as a pre-vet.
 
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Yes, I went last spring. The school tries to go twice a year and all I did was monitor the big cat and help it breathe. We didn't help put it under or fully recover it. It was a great experience, but if you don't have any anesthesia background, it might be a bit difficult. I'm sure they'll explain things so you can do it properly, but I don't know honestly. We had 4 people to a big cat so that we could rotate through as breathing for the cats can get exhausting. We didn't pay for anything to go there and I feel like $750 is a bit steep. I would definitely ask where the money is going like others have suggested. When I went with VIDA back in 2011 and paid a lot of money to do that. However, I knew the money was going towards hotels, meals, and some to supplies to do the spay/neuter days. If $750 would be extremely tight for you, then I suggest finding other things that don't ask that much from you. These trips are not worth the experience if it'll put a financial strain on you. Vet school is expensive already. Don't add more stress to your life if you don't have to. I hope this helps.
 
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