What Do Vet Schools Expect New Students To Know How to Do Beforehand?

all605

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Hi everyone! So I know that vet schools expect incoming students to have a certain amount of "book" knowledge based on the pre-req courses that they require. However, I was just wondering if they also expect new students to already have certain "hands-on" skills. By hands-on, I mean more of the stuff that techs do, but that of course doctors need to know how to do as well. For example, giving vaccines, administering fluids, intubating animals, placing catheters, etc. Do vet schools teach you to do all of this or do they expect you to know how to do it right off the bat?

I was just wondering this, so if anybody knows and could share, I'd appreciate it. I'm still several years away from vet school, but I just want to be sure I'm prepared if/when I get there. Thanks!
 

Nexx

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All the hands-on (catheter/injections/etc) is definitely not a pre-requisite nor is it assumed knowledge. Sure it is an added bonus to have, but not necessarily something you should be upset about if you can't attain it.

I used to work in a large college town with a vet school and saw a lot of pre-vet students come in and out of our practice. What I noticed most was how everyone had this mindset of "I'm going to vet school, so I need to know how to do this... If this job can't provide me with this opportunity I'm moving on to the next job."

The jobs that you have... while pursuing vet school are not a stepping stone to vet school, they are a stepping stone to a career and making sure that it is a career you like. As such it's my personal feeling that pre-vet jobs are really there solely to expose you to the day to day atmosphere, cases, animal handling, etc. You'll pick up a vast amount of information on the way but I have yet to hear about an admissions committee that thinks that you are better than applicant A because you have skills set X, Y, or Z.

BTW, this wasn't a rant directed at you :)

Just take your job/jobs for what they are, try to learn what you can and the biggest thing I can say is that if there are other prevet students working with you, remember that you aren't competing with them on the job... you are competing with them for grades, so basically share duties and new learning opportunities--competition is best kept out of the workplace.
 

Ben and Me

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I'm not in veterinary school, but from what I understand from my vet school buddies, they really expect you to have learned how to study. They'll teach you what you need to know, but its your job to be able to sort through all the info, retain what you can, and be able to put it into practice one day.
 
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thereservoirdog

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I think the only purpose of having veterinary experience is to make sure people know what they are getting into. I know a vet tech at UC Davis and she said a lot of 3rd years don't even know how to draw blood.
 

Groominator

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I'm pretty sure they couldn't expect you to do that even if they wanted to because you need at least a tech license to do needle related things. Not 100% sure, but that's what i think the rule is. And they know that not everyone who applies is a licensed vet tech. I have done a teeny bit of needle related work when volunteering. I have placed subQ needles and put needles into already placed catheters while under the supervision of a licensed tech (i thought i was so cool, i was 15 at the time). But i don't "officially" know how to do those things.
 

Bill59

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Pandacinny

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Groominator, you're not actually right about the needle related things. Well, that's not accurate for all areas, anyways. In Maryland, you must be licensed to induce anesthesia. Unlicensed techs are allowed to draw blood, insert catheters, give fluids, etc. The rules are more restrictive in some other states, but it's really something you have to check out on a state by state basis.

I don't think they can make all of this a requirement for vet school. A lot of great candidates are from states that are more restrictive, or they've worked for vets who don't allow them to do as much hands on medical stuff.
 

Malhi

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Vet schools definitely want you to have a basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology(even if some of them don't have it as a pre-req), so that you are not floundering in your first few classes. They don't expect you to know any practical stuff like placing catheters or drawing blood. Again, as mentioned earlier, it may be an added bonus because you will get a lot more from or be able to contribute a lot more to any clinical experience if you already know how to do the basic stuff. (Again, as mentioned earlier, your experience is meant to help you understand the field and what you are getting into)

And Pandacinny, you are right. In Illinois all that I, as a volunteer, can't do is give a rabies vaccine (that has to be given by a vet). I draw blood, place catheters, and give subQ fluids etc. at the shelter where I volunteer.
 
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ShelterGirl

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I can only speak for my school - they expect a certain amount of veterinary experience, but that can encompass clinical work or research and it does not require specific technical skills. My classmates range in clinical experience from those who shadowed a Dr. to those who worked in ERs putting in central lines and hairy stuff like that.

The school just wanted us to have enough experience to really understand what veterinary medicine is about and to have a general idea of where we want our career to go.
 

nyanko

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And Pandacinny, you are right. In Illinois all that I, as a volunteer, can't do is give a rabies vaccine (that has to be given by a vet). I draw blood, place catheters, give subQ fluids etc. at the shelter where I volunteer.
Same in Florida. I was an unlicensed tech for 3 years, and drew blood/placed catheters/etc many, many times.
 

all605

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thanks everyone for all the feedback. It's definitely good to know that the schools don't expect all that because that might be a bit overwhelming. So do vet schools usually have like a clinical orientation when they teach students all of the more routine things like drawing blood and giving vaccines?
 

Groominator

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Groominator, you're not actually right about the needle related things. Well, that's not accurate for all areas, anyways. In Maryland, you must be licensed to induce anesthesia. Unlicensed techs are allowed to draw blood, insert catheters, give fluids, etc. The rules are more restrictive in some other states, but it's really something you have to check out on a state by state basis.
I stand corrected. Although that gives me hope for my current volunteer/assistant position. I'm just starting to work with a new vet and i'm hoping to learn this hands-on needle stuff. So far I've been in on very uneventful days and have mostly been learning administrative things.
 

HopefulAg

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Texas allows you to do needle stuff as an assistant as well. The second day after getting out of the kennels the vet came up to me, handed me a needle, assumed the hold on the dog, and told me to draw blood out of it. Granted it was a full grown labrador but kind of intimidating lol. But it was a good experience. Hit the vein the second time after a bit of coaching (IE how to find the vein in the first place).

Holding the dog and looking down on the vein ('It's right there!') is a lot different from finding it yourself lol.



Though two years later and I still get nervous with jugular sticks.
 
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VeganChick

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Pandacinny - you are not all wrong :). Here in VA, you do need to be licensed to do all that stuff. Heck, you can't even press the pedal on the digital x-ray without a license! :D:D
 

Malhi

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Holding the dog and looking down on the vein ('It's right there!') is a lot different from finding it yourself lol.
Personally I find tiny kittens the worst! Their veins are hardly visible and if you puncture the vein, you better draw blood in your syringe or the vein collapses and you have to try the other leg, then the neck... Oh, the stories I could tell!:rolleyes:
 

rachroo

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Here in VA, you do need to be licensed to do all that stuff. Heck, you can't even press the pedal on the digital x-ray without a license!
Sounds like Ohio as well. I always feel so intimidated by how many of you are able to do all these different things...technically, it's illegal for me to do it!
 

StealthDog

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We have Clinical Skills classes at the U of MN all throughout our didactic years- first year is learning things like restraint, how to handle a syringe and needle, how to halter a horse, how to do a physical exam, etc. Second year is surgery lab, so you learn how to place a catheter, how to intubate, how to scrub, how to monitor anesthesia, and of course, how to perform a spay or neuter. Third year we learned how to do joint taps, fine needle aspirates, rumenocentesis, place an esophagotomy tube, place a gastrotomy tube, abdominocentesis, thoracocentesis, and cystocentesis. We also got to try our hand at equine and bovine rectal palpation... wee.

Point being, they give you lots of training once you get to school! Experience with blood draws, etc is always good, but it's sure not required.
 

InfiniVet

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Endless clinical skills courses during vet school prepares you for the practical aspect. In our courses, if you HAVE done a blood draw before, its expected that you sit out and let someone who hasn't done it get some practice.

Then there's random club stuff where you can go deworm 60 sheep back to back with an oral drench, for ex. They walk you through sheep #1, then you get to practice 59 times afterwards. You'll never forget how to do it from then on. :)
 

Skillet9886

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From everything that I've been told, undergrad classes are to see how you handle stress (aka organic chemistry) and to make sure you can handle a full academic courseload. The vet experience is to make sure that you've gotten enough exposure to veterinary medicine to make sure that 6 weeks into your first semester you don't freak out and decide to be a dentist. You have to have some idea of what you're getting into. After you get in, though, they teach you everything you need to know.
 

No Imagination

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I've worked with a vet for 5 years, started cleaning kennels, ended up, doing it all.

I wonder, how much of what I learned is "incorrect" in terms of the 'right' way of doing things. The vet I worked for was very old school. After I worked with him, I went on to another more formal vet hospital and was SHOCKED that they used EKG machines and much more careful anesthesia dosing formula's.

With that said, the 'old-school' vet would finish most spays in <15 min, where as the new'er vets would take +1 hour or more.

Will be very interesting to see what I've learned that is no longer common place. For that reason, I try and keep my mouth shut concerning what I think I know how to do.

P.S. For my animals... I'd let my first boss do all the procedures before I let another vet do it hands down.
 

hopefulvet21

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The vet experience is to make sure that you've gotten enough exposure to veterinary medicine to make sure that 6 weeks into your first semester you don't freak out and decide to be a dentist. You have to have some idea of what you're getting into. After you get in, though, they teach you everything you need to know.
This is what I always thought was the reason for getting lots of experience. But what I don't understand then is why adcoms factor in number of hours so much. I know "quality of experience" is technically more important, but I am sure that someone who has 1500 hours as opposed to my 800 would be a better applicant. I just don't see why a few more months working would make a big difference. I've seen a variety of veterinary work now and I am very dedicated to becoming a vet and very certain it's what I want. If getting experience is just to prove that to adcoms and yourself, then why is there so much concern with number of hours? I am sure that "not enough experience" will be the main reason I get rejected. At what point are they convinced you have enough? I know most applicants have around a 1,000 (obviously varies a lot), but I don't see how me working another few hundred hours demonstrates that I will be more ready than I am now for vet school:confused:
 

Malhi

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I wonder about that too. The 'incorrect' vs 'right' way to do things... For example, we give subQ at my shelter. But I have heard that it is not the best thing to do. That subQ fluids are a quick fix and fluids should really be given intravenously.
 

lailanni

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At what point are they convinced you have enough? I know most applicants have around a 1,000 (obviously varies a lot), but I don't see how me working another few hundred hours demonstrates that I will be more ready than I am now for vet school:confused:
That'll come up in your interview -- if your school interviews. They'll likely ask questions to determine just how familiar you are with vet/animal experience, if you actually learned anything from it, and your level of dedication/general knowledge. The more experience you have, the more you'll have to draw on and the better off you are.
 

david594

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I wonder about that too. The 'incorrect' vs 'right' way to do things... For example, we give subQ at my shelter. But I have heard that it is not the best thing to do. That subQ fluids are a quick fix and fluids should really be given intravenously.
Rarely is anything in medicine that black and white though. Its all shades of gray.

SubQ fluids can be done cheaply and quickly allowing it to be affordable and for the client and the patient to go home immediately. IV fluids take much longer, require more tech time to place a catheter and requires the animal to stay in house while receiving the fluids.

And every clinic you go to will do things differently. Even just spays an neuters. Some docs will do flank spays on cats while others wont. Some will swear doing a scrotal neuter on a dog is malpractice while another finds it acceptable.

Beyond that, the three different places I work all have different anesthetic protocols for their cats neuters. Telazol versus Dom/Torb/Ket versus Dom/Morph/Ket. None are wrong, just all different mean to an end.

The variety is one of the things I really love about veterinary medicine.

And for those not familiar with a flank spay, you definitely should check this video out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRwJFom6Mmw
Think about cases where this might be indicated versus a normal spay.
 

Skillet9886

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If getting experience is just to prove that to adcoms and yourself, then why is there so much concern with number of hours? At what point are they convinced you have enough? I know most applicants have around a 1,000 (obviously varies a lot), but I don't see how me working another few hundred hours demonstrates that I will be more ready than I am now for vet school:confused:
I don't think that hour requirements are necessarily different from the point I made earlier. One could work 500 hours and never see a hit by car, for example. Then if you see one later and decide it's too gruesome to have a cat come in just totally mangled, it might not be the right profession for you. I mean, this is just an example that I made up, but you could apply it to a bunch of different things. The more experience you have, the more you will have been exposed to, and the more certain adcoms can be that you have a general idea of what vetmed is about.

Also, number of hours is another way to objectively compare applicants. We all know how competitive this is, so if there are two kids that are basically the same, but one has an additional 500 hours of experience, it would make sense to take the more experienced one. It sucks, but they need some ways of distinguishing between applicants.
 

KKibo

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I doubt they really require you to know everything, although i'm sure it will come in handy! Just about the only thing I haven't done at the clinic I work at is administer any form of anesthesia. However, I have gotten to perform a few necropsies (under doctor surpervsion and with client permission ofcourse) which have all been really neat and I never thought I'd get do to anything like it until Vet. school.
 

Gordo

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One time a relief vet came in and was talking about different things. One of the things she was saying is that before she applied to vet school she actually became a registered vet technician and said she was glad that she did. She said in vet school you learn why you do certain things (drop catheters, draw blood, etc.) not how to do things. I guess they could teach the basics, no sure, but it was just something that made sense. So I definatly thinks it helps if you know those general things. Which makes sense if you have an idea. But I am sure it varies from school to school
 
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