max_wildlife

wildlife rehabber & amateur guitarist
2+ Year Member
Mar 22, 2018
149
207
Status
  1. Pre-Veterinary
Hi all,
I posted on here a few years ago when I was still trying to decide between a DVM and a PhD. A few years later with more field research experience under my belt and I've come to realize I'm all in for the DVM, particularly in pathology. I'm currently 28 and a non-traditional student. My career goal is to teach wildlife medicine and maybe epidemiology at a vet school. my slightly more reasonable goal is to maybe become a clinical pathologist with a side-gig as a wildlife vet.

I applied this round on encouragement from a couple vet schools as well as some advisors but still thinking I'm not quite a competitive applicant as I have some remaining pre-reqs. let me know what you think, and where you think I can work on. I'm anticipating a gap year and wondering what should do with it.

This round applied to: Ohio, Ross, Colorado, and Tufts, with the latter two mostly as dream schools. Ohio and Ross both encouraged me to apply just to see.
Next round planning on applying to:
Likely: Tufts, Ohio, Illinois, Long Island, Colorado, Washington, University of Arizona, LSU, Florida, Ross, Midwestern?
Maybe: Cornell - in-state school but I have some Ws, more on that in a bit;; and I hear they are hard on that; Michigan; University of Pennsylvania - yikes about the calculus requirement but closer to home; Guelph - very close to home but they seem strict about courses taken in grad school. Possibly Europe and possibly St. George's.

I'm also a (dual) Polish Citizen which means I could probably try for schools in Europe but I'm honestly not sure how I feel about spending 6 more years in school.

so here's what I'm working with:

Cumulative GPA: overall: 3.50; post-bac coursework: 3.71; current school: 3.86
science GPA: overall: 3.43; post-bac 3.65; currently enrolled in the first o-chem round and somehow have become incredibly superstitious so not gonna share that grade just yet but doing okay thus far.
Remaining Science Pre-Reqs: include micro, orgo 2, biochem, and physics 2. taking micro this winter, orgo 2 this spring, and biochem this summer if I receive an offer that requires it. Physics 2 will likely be done next year as I don't anticipate an offer from the only school I applied to this round that requires it.
last 45: 3.86

Any degrees achieved
-
B.S.: Env Studies & Journalism
- M.S.: Env Science, 2018; currently prepping manuscript for publication
- AAS: Veterinary Technology expected ly 1st (as long as Covid doesn't cancel our rotations again)
- Professional certifications: licensed wildlife rehabilitator, 2014-present; licensed rabies vector species assistant 2017-present; and associate wildlife biologist

GRE results: Q/V/W
highest score is 149/158/5.0
percentiles: 33/79/92
combined: 307 - I'm not sure what that combined percentile is. 70ish based on one website I saw?


Veterinary Experience: ~3200 hrs, maybe more - need to recount
- Veterinary Technology Extern - local animal hospital, corporate - mostly shadowing; place catheters, take radiographs, administer medications and fluids, assist in surgery, participate in dental prophylaxis, lab work; September - Present: 41 hours (trying to not go in more than 1x-2x per week for covid concerns; September 2020-present)
- Veterinary Assistant - high volume animal shelter - recover patients from anesthesia, perform physical exams, vaccinate on intake, administer medication to shelter animals - ~700 hours; September 2019-June 2020 (removed work from home hours from Covid, unfortunately let go for Covid cuts). Frequent work with exotic small mammals, occasional work with large animals.
- Wildlife & RVS rehabilitation assistant to veterinarian; work directly with her, home clinic. mostly bats! sometimes birds. necropsies. general patient care, flight testing. lots of lessons. ~150 hrs; 2017-present
- Wildlife Assistant - wildlife hospital; direct veterinary supervision - general anesthesia, radiography, assist in surgery, general patient care, input clinical data and write SOAPs, create epidemiological maps, train and supervise volunteers, triage. 4 years. 3 years were volunteer, one year intern -> staff. ~1500 hours?. When I was a volunteer my title genuinely sounded cooler - medical care specialist & shift supervisor. Worked with a large variety of species from birds to small mammals to foxes. Occasionally assisted in the barn because they were right next to our department; 2012-2016.
- Veterinary Assistant - small animal, private practice; part-time position for a semester during my gap-year between undergrad & grad school. directly supervised by veterinarian but position limited to animal restraint. ~300 hrs; September-December 2015.
- Wildlife Rehab Intern - maine - clinical position, similar to other wildlife positions listed. give medications. ~500 hrs May-August 2015

Animal Experience: ~750 hrs
- Clinical Pathology Extern - pathology lab - perform cbcs & urinalysis, differential cell counts, still learning numerous chemistry machines on the premises. learn about the interconnections between abnormal findings and different diseases & conditions. communicate with different veterinarians across the region and within the hospital. unsure if this falls under animal or veterinary honestly; my direct supervisor is not a veterinarian so i placed it here. ~100 hrs right now. (July 2020--Present)
-Goat Care Volunteer! - this is so much fun. i work with a local goat ecology group! i help trim hooves, and ensure the goats are only eating the plants they are supposed to be eating. ~12 hrs right now but hoping for ~100 by next summer depending on covid. ties into my work in ecology too. (July 2020-Present)
- Interpretive Naturalist - aza accredited zoo - paid internship, montana. worked with grizzly bears and wolves! watched to ensure proper behaviors & that visitors were not attempting entry to enclosure or harming animals; interpret questions; monitor, run and develop educational programs. volunteer work in keeper department involved prepping dens and creating enrichment activities for the animals, and transferring them with operant conditioning; 650 hours (May-September 2014)

Research Experience: Without Master's Thesis: ~1700 hours; With Master's thesis: 3100 hours
-
I've spoken with some schools that say I should account for my Master's thesis hours, so I did include them on my application
- Studied the relationship between wildlife disease reporting rates, temperature, and media reporting in five regions of NYS; still unpublished but working on it and because of that unfortunately cannot go into more detail.
- Disease Ecology Project Assistant - paid - Hudson Valley - 715 hours
- Ecological Survey Technician - local - paid - ~1000 hours
- Currently developing a research project with the wildlife vet that I work with about bats! since this is not clinical, I'm classifying it here? is this correct? I've probably spent about ~50 hours on this so far.

Awards/scholarships:
- Dean's List
- Phi Theta Kappa & merit scholarship at my tech school
- Alumni Scholarship at my grad school
- Journalism scholarship - undergrad

Extracurriculars:
Volunteer
- Youth Theatre Production Design Assistant & Stage Hand - local school that my mom works at; involved assisting their arts departments in producing the annual musical. Covid might impact that this winter. Cumulative ~300 hours over the past few years; maybe 75-100 hrs per year? This is broken up by musical/play in my spreadsheet -- now I'm wondering if I should've consolidated it all into one.
- Wildlife organization social media coordinator & content producer; I'm not sure how to classify this! if it involves talking about animals, does this move to animal experience? I write articles about wildlife conservation and disease ecology. I also paint, draw, and share patient stories.
- Sierra Club
- ESL Teaching - 2013 - the experience is getting old; I had something lined up for this summer/fall but everything fell through.
- Zoo Education Volunteer - 2011; I'm non-traditional so I was a freshman at the time! I was not working directly with the animals.
- Also co-taught Polish at the Polish Saturday School as a teenager.

Professional
- NAVTA
- The Wildlife Society
- Wildlife Disease Association
- New York State Wildlife Rehab Council
- International Wildlife Rehab Council
- On my application I stuck all my licenses under professional extracurriculars. Should this be moved?

Fun/Misc
- Recreational Ice Hockey - Left Wing - usually one or two organized games per year
- Surfing - Usually a lesson or two per year
- Indoor Rock Climbing - just for fun. not going currently due to Covid.
- Intramural Soccer - Forward - Grad School
- Recreational Soccer - Forward - 2015-2016
- Guitarist - How do I list this? I've been in a casual band with a friend for a few years at this point and taken lessons here and there, but I've been playing guitar for 13 years.
- Fencing - Sabre & Foil - 2015-2016; Epee - 2010-2011; still fence recreationally with friends. Again, do I only account for the formal time in lessons?
- Theatre - I started out a theatre major in undergrad; I was the lead audio tech by graduation but also acted in plays. Do I separate this out by role? Do I list everything back through high school as well?
- Newspaper Columnist - The Griffin - Undergraduate newspaper; wrote the "Green Space" column
- Editor in chief of high school paper
- Helped start the varsity women's ice hockey team in high school!

Employment:
-
Wildlife Content Producer - Independent Contractor, separate from volunteer work; October-April 2018
- Sustainability Management Intern - August 2016-May 2018 (essentially, duration of grad school)
- Graduate Teaching Assistant - August 2016 - December 2016 (one semester; taught cultural ecology; I had 4 jobs during this period.)
- Barista/Stage Manager - local coffee shop - 2014-2018
- Youth Sports Coach - October 2014 - January 2015
- ESL Teacher - August 2013-December 2013 (undergrad position)
- Barista - Starbucks - July 2013 - May 2014 (left for that zoo position in Montana)
- Server - July 2012 - September 2012
- Team Member - Dunkin - August 2011 - August 2012

I didn't include my high school jobs here.

Concerns:
- The reason I'm superstitious about ochem is that I withdrew from it twice. yikes. I finally have a teacher I'm connecting with and I'm understanding the material. In the past I withdrew because of clear issues with time management. I tried taking a 5-week course in and then left town for a week for my cousin (more like brother)'s graduation. there was no way I could miss it. It was also the first accelerated class I'd ever taken; big mistake. Despite this I kept the lab and still got a B+ in it, but didn't want to chance the final.

The second time I withdrew was also for time management - but different. This time, I was in the middle of my last fall courseload of grad school courses and was also working for my wildlife biology certificate. I underestimated the amount of time that would go into my thesis research (ie, travel), was required to keep my physiology course to graduate and essentially had to choose to withdraw from either physics or orgo. I went with orgo, because I'd already passed the chemistry unit in my biology cert and needed representation in another physical science; otherwise that would be delayed another year. I don't regret it, but it does look bad.

- "meh" gpa - I'm working on it. I've gotten straight As & A-s in tech school. I'm not sure how many schools will count that toward my GPA.. I had an A/B average in grad school, too. damaging courses include a C in Chem II and a few Cs in random courses as a freshman that wasn't sure what she wanted back in 2010-2011 (eg, international relations, philosophy, religion, and sadly music theory.) I think there's a school or two that allow you to remove these classes from consideration, but at the same time - like freshman- me was interesting. I took Kiswahili just for fun. I excelled in writing and communication. I wanted to be an anthropologist for a minute. Shouldn't that all be part of it?

- an early misstep in biology - when I was 19 I got a C in biology I. halfway through Biology II I decided I wanted to be a naturalist (oops) withdrew from the course and switched into Conservation Biology. The latter *did* have a scientific and mathematical focus but I'm concerned that the C in Bio I and W in Bio II look awful. I've spoken to my advisor about it and she says I worry too much about it, that schools will notice it was a decade ago. But will they? Since then, I've taken many bio courses that require the biology sequence as a pre-req:
A- - small animal A&P 1 & 2 and labs; 8 credits
A- - upper level ornithology & lab; 4 credits
A - wildlife science (graduate level including population ecology, genetics, management, handling, and research methods)
A - independent study epidemiology & environmental health, 3 credits
A - intro to micro, physics & chem (won't count as a pre-req but counts as a science credit according to at least osu? school dependent?), 4 credits
A- - marine ecology - this was a hefty grad-level class - 5 credits
B - genetics, 3 credits
B - conservation biology (including genetics & biostatistics), 3 credits
B - animal physiology, 3 credits
B - invasive species ecology (including fungal diseases), 3 credits
B - plant ecology, 3 credits

My advisor says all these classes should be fine to meet the biology requirement for most of the schools I'm applying to -- especially the A&P. but I'm skeptical. I think the only way I'll feel better is if I call everyone and check. Is this over-worrying?

And lastly, during a gap year/semester, should I try to stay at the pathology lab to show consistency? Or is it better to travel and diversify my experience a bit? I have limited large animal. I'd also love to work in a zoo or large wildlife center again. Any thoughts? Are there any schools you think I should consider that weren't on my list, or any I should remove?

Thanks for any insights!
 
Last edited:

EngrSC

VMCVM c/o 2024!
7+ Year Member
Jul 25, 2012
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2,129
Right Coast
Status
  1. Veterinary Student
I'm not sure why you don't think you're a competitive applicant. I think you'll be fine!
 
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Georgethecat

2+ Year Member
Dec 21, 2016
156
201
Agree with EngrSC that you're a competitive candidate. Each school does calculate gpa's differently, so be aware of that. And a lot of schools don't consider vet tech classes towards pre-req's, not sure how they are counted towards gpa's.

I would definitely call and verify with each school about the biology pre-req concern.

Your experiences are good and varied and certainly back up your interest in wildlife medicine. If you are enjoying the path lab, no reason to leave it especially if you think that's an area you'd like to ultimately work in. If you could find a large animal vet to shadow with for a couple of days, that's all you'd need if you're concerned about lack of large animal experience.

If this cycle doesn't work out, ask for file reviews. Make sure that you are selling yourself in the best light possible. Your background has a lot of very interesting components that many applicants won't have. Best of luck to you!
 
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max_wildlife

wildlife rehabber & amateur guitarist
2+ Year Member
Mar 22, 2018
149
207
Status
  1. Pre-Veterinary
I'm not sure why you don't think you're a competitive applicant. I think you'll be fine!

Thank you! Since I've attended three different schools within the last two years I've received mixed opinions from advisors at different schools which have left me unsure, especially regarding the course withdrawals. My grad school advisor thinks I'm competitive, my pre-vet advisor thinks I'm solid but that I should anticipate just not getting in just yet given that I'm still missing pre-reqs, and the last thinks I'm interesting but isn't sure. Lack of clear direction has left me sort of feeling like I'm on a bit of a proverbial raft at sea. But I think for sort of making it up as I go along, it's been going all right - at least so far.

Agree with EngrSC that you're a competitive candidate. Each school does calculate gpa's differently, so be aware of that. And a lot of schools don't consider vet tech classes towards pre-req's, not sure how they are counted towards gpa's.

I would definitely call and verify with each school about the biology pre-req concern.

Okay, makes sense to me. I will do that.

Your experiences are good and varied and certainly back up your interest in wildlife medicine. If you are enjoying the path lab, no reason to leave it especially if you think that's an area you'd like to ultimately work in. If you could find a large animal vet to shadow with for a couple of days, that's all you'd need if you're concerned about lack of large animal experience.

If this cycle doesn't work out, ask for file reviews. Make sure that you are selling yourself in the best light possible. Your background has a lot of very interesting components that many applicants won't have. Best of luck to you!

Thank you :) I'll touch base with my advisors after this round to see about my next essay and whatever aspects could be improved if I don't get in.
 
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batsenecal

U of I c/o 2021
7+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2013
5,204
8,075
Perpetual state of disarray
Status
  1. Veterinary Student
I also feel like you're a solid candidate all the way around. I think it's unfortunate that you didn't apply to Illinois as I feel like you'd have a solid shot for sure. Definitely keep it in mind in the off chance you'll need to reapply.
 
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max_wildlife

wildlife rehabber & amateur guitarist
2+ Year Member
Mar 22, 2018
149
207
Status
  1. Pre-Veterinary
I also feel like you're a solid candidate all the way around. I think it's unfortunate that you didn't apply to Illinois as I feel like you'd have a solid shot for sure. Definitely keep it in mind in the off chance you'll need to reapply.

Honestly I wish I would've applied there, I don't know why I didn't. I follow their wildlife epi lab on instagram and I'm quietly obsessed. I think I got freaked out about the GRE; Somehow I didn't see that while my score isn't great, it's also not that bad. I'll definitely be applying there next year if I end up not getting in this round.

And thank you :)
 
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