HOW DO YOU BECOME A VETERINARIAN AND DO YOU WANT TO?

This is NOT me, by the way.
This is NOT me, by the way.

As a veterinarian, I’ve often heard people say that they at one time thought about becoming a vet. I also hear a lot of parents and grandparents talking about one of their children or grandchildren thinking about becoming a vet. I’d like to use my blog today to talk about some of the myths and to give some helpful hints.

I chuckle when someone tells me their 18 year-old is pre-vet. Heck, when you start college, you’re pre-EVERYTHING. As a freshman, you can be pre-rocket scientist or even pre-“college isn’t for me.” In order to get into veterinary college, you just need to look at the requirements for admission, take those classes and do well. There are a lot of math and science classes needed, but you could be an art major and still get into vet school. In fact, diversity is smiled upon when applying. After all, who wants every doctor to be the same?

Oh, yes, veterinarians are doctors. Not the physician or human surgeon kind, but we obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine(D.V.M.) degree unless we go to the University of Pennsylvania(they give a V.M.D.). Most vets get a bachelor’s degree first, but it is possible to get into vet school without first getting a bachelor’s degree; however, those few people study intensely for two or three years in a program that is geared strictly for the goal of applying to vet school. If after that intense training, they don’t get in, they either reapply or use what credits they have towards some other bachelor’s degree.

Vet school admission committees look at grades, but they also look at the standardized test(graduate record exam(G.R.E.)) scores, experience, letters of recommendation and interview to make their decisions.  In order to gain good experience, most applicants have worked in a clinic before. This is good because this career is not for everyone. Young adults need to see the good, the bad, the fun and the sad to determine if it is for them. It’s ok if it doesn’t fit what they want to do…better to find out before you rack up over $150,000 in debt for a job that pays around $60k/year which is another important factor to consider(maybe another blog topic?)

Now, I am flattered when people talk about the acceptance process. People talk about vet school like I went through S.E.A.L. training. I have some smarts but my mental abilities are not analogous to the physical and mental toughness of elite warriors. In fact, 1 in 10 applicants are accepted to the University of Illinois. I get to see the numbers every year because I am honored to serve on one of the interview teams. But…if you break these down, 800 of these are out-of-state students who will likely turn down an acceptance because of the costs of out-of-state tuition. So, when it really comes down to it, if you are applying to your in-state school and meet the requirements, you have more like a 50:50 chance. Granted, the group you compete against are very qualified, but again, you’ve got a chance when you consider I’ve put the milk in the cupboard and the cereal in the fridge!!

This kind of information is something I like people to know and the kind of stuff I like to talk about. I love to talk to kids of all ages, and we often have students observe us in exam rooms and even surgery. The more you see, the more you understand and the more you can decide on what might be for you.

As usual, thanks for reading and give me ideas of what YOU would like to read about.

Dr. H.

 

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