Thursday, December 18, 2008

Preparing for vet school: What is most mportant ?

The most important part of you application is experience, experience, experience. The best part about that is that anyone can do it. Whether you’re in high school, college, or any stage in your life you can get veterinary experience.

Veterinary schools will of course look at your grades and test scores, but I believe the most important quality they are looking for is experience. They want someone who really knows what it is like and what it takes to be a veterinarian, not just someone who likes animals. They want someone who really knows what the lifestyle is for a vet, therefore these students will be better prepared and motivated to make it though the rigors of vet school. Further, applicants who only have good grades and test scores are sometimes referred to as “brains in a jar”, which obviously is not a complement. The erm means that all the applicant is only book smart, lacking any real skills. Being a successful veterinarian takes a lot more than just smarts, it takes a lot of hands on training as well. The more hands on practice you have prior to vet school, then better vet you will be. Schools want students to be successful, exceptional veterinarians and the best way the best measure of that in applicants is experience.

Also, remember most schools require 3 references, at least one being form a veterinarian. So, if you have never worked with a veterinarian before, good luck getting a good letter of recommendation. Therefore, start working for a vet ASAP that way you can have a letter of recommendation form a veterinarian that you have a long history with. A good letter from a veterinarian that you have worked with several years ( and yes on the application the reference must say how long they have known the applicant) can make or break your application.

Don’t let pride get in your way when it comes to working with a veterinarian. I guarantee that the vast majority of vets and vet students got their start cleaning cages, stalls, scooping poop, sweeping floors, and basically cleaning up a vet clinic. If you don’t have much experience in vet clinics, this is just where you have to start. Even while doing the dirty work you can absorb knowledge, just by observing. You will learn common illnesses, treatments, learn animal registrant, and other “tricks” of the trade. I know I was a dog walker/holder/poop scooper for quite awhile, but I learned a lot and looked great on an application. In time you can work your way up to possibly starting helping more with treatment and so on depending on your clinic.

Also, don’t forget about becoming a veterinary technician. In some practices you can just work your way up to being a tech as described above. In other you may have to be a certified technician to do a lot of treatment, and most practices at least pay certified technicians more. Being a technician is an absolutely great way to learn, many veterinary technicians get to draw blood, place catheters, monitor anesthesia, talk to clients, and much more depending on your practice. Typically you work side-by-side with a veterinarian and will learn medicine as well as the little nuances in the life of a veterinarian. If you are unsure about being a veterinarian, then experience as vet tech can help you make your decision. There are several vet students that are certified vet tech first, and school comes much easier to them given all the experience and knowledge they already have. Plus again it will REALLY make your application stand out above others.

Bottom line is work in veterinary clinic no matter if you are in high school, middle school, college, or thinking of vet school at all so you can have a great application, and if nothing else learn more about veterinary medicine in order to decide if it’s a career for you. I don’t care if you’re a kennel employee or technician it will all help tremendously.

In my next post I will describe some common ways to get experience in the veterinary medicine field.

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Nicole Lee said...

I would REALLY like to work in a vet clinic. But I'm only 13 turning 14 this November and I live in Hong Kong. I'm not sure where to go to work, I barely know any people who are veterinarians. I tried SPCA but their minimum age to volunteer(even as a dog walker) is 16. I want to start as soon as I can but I don't know any ways. Can you please help me?

hannahandpets said...

I started at 14 being a dog/house sitter. This got me in the door with the peoples Veterinarian.

Team-Jacob Girl said...

My family has raised alpacas for the last 9 years. And I have owned dogs and cats for 10 years. I'm not sure if that counts has experience. Does it?

Anonymous said...

I am a junior in college and am yet to start accumulating hours of veterinary experience. The only experience I have right now is a volunteer job I had for two summers at a zoo when I was younger. The problem is that this was when I was 13, so it was quite a while ago. Do you think this could still count as experience even though it was several years ago? I got to work with a variety of animals at the zoo including both farm animals and exotics.

Elizabeth J. Neal said...

The Animal Clinic of Hastings is proud to be an accredited member of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). vet close to me

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Study Smarter!

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