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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone here have experience with becoming a veterinarian, or know someone who has? I’ve been considering very strongly on starting on the path to becoming one, and changing majors from mechanical engineering to pre-veterinary. But I need to be able to produce more of a compelling reason for changing other than “I hate the idea of spending my life as a ME, but love the idea of being a vet.” So, here are a few of my questions:
What is the job stability like?
Starting pay?
What is a typical workday like?
Are you always on call, or is it okay to be out of town once in a while?
How hard is it really to get into vet school?
Is it okay that I don’t have much experience volunteering right now?
Is it challenging?
Do you like it most days?
 

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I would love to help if I can!
Im in college right now working on becoming a veterinarian as well so I do not have all of the answers but a few maybe? I also work at a privately owned vet clinic in Oklahoma as a vet tech so it will differ if you work through a large corporation as a vet or in another state.
At my clinic as a tech I typical work from 6/7am till 1ish or 1ish to 6/7pm Monday thur Friday as weekends are a different schedule. Our vets have a similar schedule as well, we have two so they work every other day but it depends on what kind of vet you are as well.
We are not an emergency veterinarian clinic so we are not on call but we have had to take turns staying over night with animals before. I have fostered lots of babies who need around the clock care but I can do it from home then.
I would say if you set your mind to it you can make it but it is not easy where I live to get into vet school, I have another year before I can start the application/interview process.
Hard to say with the volunteering, I starting collecting hrs in high school when I was able to intern under a vet which counts at the college I will be applying at. I would start by calling your local shelter or rescue centers and asking if the need volunteers as that is also recommended.
I personally have always wanted to be a vet and was thrilled in high school when I was able to intern under a great vet. It is not for everyone I will say that for sure, lots of sick/miss treated animals come in which are hard but then a cute 8wk puppy is in the next room ready to make your day. I have loved it since my first day as an intern and hopefully stay loving the job. At the end of the day it is work and physically draining as well but its worth it to me.
 

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I had a coworker with twin daughters, one of whom wanted to become a vet. I learned that it’s actually harder to get into vet school, than medical school because there are far fewer of them and they are very selective. Her daughter had a nearly perfect GPA as an undergrad in one of the sciences, but didn’t make the cut. She was undaunted, spent a year working as a vet tech and landed a place a year later. As to the quality of life, operating a practice is a six day a week small business for the solo practitioner. This is why you may see more group practices, two or three vets to share the overhead and cover for each other. Buck’s neurologist, is a salaried specialist with the largest veterinary hospital in the city. She shared that she has a great quality of work life, none of the overhead expenses. Vet school is four years, specializations are more years and there are state boards following each step. If it’s your passion, I wish you all the best.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
At my clinic as a tech I typical work from 6/7am till 1ish or 1ish to 6/7pm Monday thur Friday as weekends are a different schedule.
Ah... That sounds like a kind schedule.
I personally have always wanted to be a vet and was thrilled in high school when I was able to intern under a great vet.
How did you get the internship? Was it a walk in and ask type of situation, or were they asking for interns (or both?).
I would say if you set your mind to it you can make it but it is not easy where I live to get into vet school, I have another year before I can start the application/interview process.
She was undaunted, spent a year working as a vet tech and landed a place a year later.
So if I was to try and get into vet school it would be a good idea to be a vet tech for a year or two to gain experience?

Thank you both for your replies!
 

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I am a vet tech (graduated 17 years ago 😳) and have been working in busy practices ever since. My boss encouraged bmenat one point to consider going for vet, but I already had kids at that point and was not willing to make the sacrifices that schooling would take.
I'm in Ontario, so there could be regional differences but from what I have heard it's mostly the same.
Veterinarians are in high demand, you will not need to look to hard for a job.
I don't know what starting pay would be (and that would likely be highly variable due to cost of living etc) but I do know that while the pay is decent the debts from school are usually huge.
Yes, it's pretty hard to get in. Especially if you are set on a specific school/location.
It is challenging, live beings do not always (or even often) follow the guide book so to say, but imo challenging in a good way. The biggest negative challenge is owners, and specifically money issues. You need really thick skin to deal with all the people who tell you that all you care about is money, or get angry that you can't diagnose their pet when they declined all diagnostics.
To start your own clinic, you need to have business management skills as well as vet skills. According to my boss, it's not uncommon for small new clinics to go bankrupt.
But there are lots of practices who are looking for associates or employees, and the schedule would depend on what kind of clinic you would work at. As a tech, I work either 7-7, 9-7, or 11-9 (full time would be 3-4 shifts a week but I am part time). The vets work the same shifts but honestly they rarely leave on time. Sometimes they are 2 hours late finishing up records and following up on tests.
I do love my job and so do the vets I work with!
Having some experience in a vet clinic would be invaluable for you before you make any firm decisions.
 

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An interesting career as a Mechanical Engineer is building animal prosthetics. This probably has better pay and hours than a vet, and maybe not having to rent an entire building and paying employee salaries and insurance, and still may satisfy your attraction to working with animals. I imagine there would be travel opportunities to zoos, farms, and animal hospitals.

Here are some articles. Also do a YouTube search for 'animal prosthetics engineer'.

Licensed Mechanical Engineers Create Animal Prosthetics

3D printing animal prosthetics and orthotics
(The 3D stuff is pretty hot these days.)

Pet Prosthetics

13 Animals Given a New Lease in Life with Prosthetics

Zoos contract with ME specialists too. I was blown away that a prosthetic leg was fitted for an elephant. All kinds of other animals too.


And of course, pets.

 

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Not what you asked, but as an engineer (not mechanical)... if you think you would be a good vet, good with the people, the business decisions, the uncomfortably imprecise and weird and unpredictable and emotional... go be a vet, you will hate being an engineer. If you do decide to be an engineer, and like those things, construction work is as close as you will likely get. I love construction work, hate office work, but would like those parts of being a vet.

As an engineer currently reevaluating life choices - I highly recommend not tthinking about "how many years I have into this degree" if you decide you want a change. Better to figure it out now, accept those years as learning and growing years, and make the change now then find yourself 5 years into a career trying to reinvent yourself. :)

Good luck, whatever you choose.
 

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How did you get the internship? Was it a walk in and ask type of situation, or were they asking for interns (or both?).
So if I was to try and get into vet school it would be a good idea to be a vet tech for a year or two to gain experience?
I was in high school at the time of my internship and it was through a program to help students get into the work force and the vet had a partnership with the program, so both i guess.
I know lots of vets/future vets who start out as tech for experience and to help with the application process into college. But I would start with maybe a volunteering for an animal program like a shelter which would help as well and help see if it's something you can do. Being a vet tech does help and some love being a tech more then a vet because schooling is a lot less, plus less paperwork!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I don't know what starting pay would be (and that would likely be highly variable due to cost of living etc) but I do know that while the pay is decent the debts from school are usually huge.
Yeah, that’s one of the things that worries me. Maybe it would help to work for that year before getting into school?
It is challenging, live beings do not always (or even often) follow the guide book so to say, but imo challenging in a good way.
I like that!
The biggest negative challenge is owners, and specifically money issues. You need really thick skin to deal with all the people who tell you that all you care about is money, or get angry that you can't diagnose their pet when they declined all diagnostics.
That’s frustrating. I guess every job has its negatives. How often does this happen?
As an engineer currently reevaluating life choices - I highly recommend not tthinking about "how many years I have into this degree" if you decide you want a change. Better to figure it out now, accept those years as learning and growing years, and make the change now then find yourself 5 years into a career trying to reinvent yourself. :)
That is true. :)
An interesting career as a Mechanical Engineer is building animal prosthetics. This probably has better pay and hours than a vet, and maybe not having to rent an entire building and paying employee salaries and insurance, and still may satisfy your attraction to working with animals. I imagine there would be travel opportunities to zoos, farms, and animal hospitals.
That’s interesting, Vita—thank you!
I was in high school at the time of my internship and it was through a program to help students get into the work force and the vet had a partnership with the program, so both i guess.
I think my college does something similar. I might have to look into that!

Thank you, everyone! I love this community!
 

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Hello! I am actually currently in my fourth year of vet school and am set to graduate with my DVM this May. This turned into a small novel because I'm currently waiting to go back to the hospital for treatments and have nothing better to do, but TL;DR - I love the veterinary industry, even though it sucks sometimes, and cannot imagine working as anything else. I'm more than happy to answer any questions you can think of!

What is the job stability like?
Starting pay?
What is a typical workday like?
Are you always on call, or is it okay to be out of town once in a while?
How hard is it really to get into vet school?
Is it okay that I don’t have much experience volunteering right now?
Is it challenging?
Do you like it most days?
1) Stability is generally very good. People will always need medical care for their pets. While not completely recession proof as a profession, I know many clinics that have experienced 30%+ growth during COVID because of being an "essential business" and the boom of people adopting dogs and puppies while at home. There are always clinics hiring new veterinarians and new graduates currently have a lot of bargaining power in regards to their contracts.

2) This will vary a ton depending on where you are located and what type of practice you are in. For instance, the current average salary for a first-year (so just graduated) small animal exclusive veterinarian is around $92,000, last I heard. This number will be higher in big cities and smaller in more rural communities. I have a friend who graduated last year who is making six figures downtown in a big city. Mixed and food animal practitioners will make less. I believe equine exclusive makes the least (~$60,000 or so). Some clinics do production only, or a form of pro-sal, or salaried only. The average debt is probably around $200,000 coming out of vet school, but there are people who graduate with none and those with $400,000+. Your state (where you will get in-state tuition) will highly affect this.
These are the numbers for general practitioners. Those who specialize will make more, but the road to your specialty is long and complicated. I can definitely talk more about that if you're interested.

3) There are some great YouTube videos that follow a veterinarian through their typical day of work. It will vary depending on the type of clinic and your interests. Personally, my future work day will see general, 15 minute well- and sick-appointments from 8-9 AM. From 9-12 AM, I will be in surgery. Lunch break from 12-2. From 2-6 I will see more appointments. My work week will be Monday through Friday with every other or every third Saturday. The clinic I will be working at does not do on-call (unless you want to and the client has your personal number) or Sundays. We are also mixed, so there is the possibility for ambulatory work (once COVID is over). Again, this can vary greatly. Some days we take appointments until 7 because of emergencies coming in. I know some of my friends do four 10-hour shifts instead, plus weekends.

4) You should negotiate for a minimum of 2 weeks of vacation and a good amount of days for continuing education (CE). You have CE requirements where you learn new skills or current research to maintain your license, and there are some super fun, big conferences held in major cities that your boss should pay for you to attend. This should not come out of your vacation time.

5) Vet school is hard to get into because of the limited number of seats. I have linked my school's most recent admission statistics. The current trend is away from GPA and GRE scores and towards more soft skills, like emotional intelligence and good communication. However, vet school classes are very hard, so a high GPA makes it easier to get in. You must also have a minimum number of vet experience hours, which varies by school. I like to recommend a minimum of 1,000 hours, but there are many people who get in with less than that.
I would be more than happy to discuss entrance requirements in more detail with you.

6, 7, 8) Tying in to above, I would say take a year off and get as much experience as you can, and make sure it is true veterinary experience, not just animal experience. This would mean working or shadowing (like an intern) at a veterinary clinic. This will help you decide if the industry is right for you before you put a ton of time and money into vet school. I'm going to be completely honest. Vet school sucks. Like, a lot. And there is a rising number of veterinarians (and students) committing suicide because of the emotional and physical strain. We have many talks with counselors about maintaining our mental health, but it's hard. Clients are always angry that diagnostics cost money. Dr. Google has taken over common sense. Pet store employees are suddenly veterinary nutritionists and behaviorists. But I cannot see myself doing anything else and I would not change anything. I have worked as a technician for 7 years. I have held long-time patients as they were euthanized and cried with their owners. Some days suck, but for every bad client who writes a nasty review online, there are 10 good ones who send your whole hospital treats over the holidays and who hand write you cards of gratitude. It is an incredibly rewarding profession, but you have to have a thick skin and know that you cannot save every patient. All you can do is make their lives as good as you can while they are here.

Sorry that this is 50 pages long, but I hope I answered your questions! Please feel free to reach out to me with any others you may have, and good luck making a decision!
 

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My d-i-l is a vet (graduate of Texas A&M). It's my understanding that vet school is highly competitive. She had a 4.0 in biochemistry as an undergraduate.

She did advanced training after graduation and now oversees vet interns at a Beverly Hills clinic. The pay is quite good; the living expenses are California high (they live in St. Clarita), and she's still paying off her college loans.

So it's good pay and costly to get there.

One good thing is the variety of jobs available. It's not just small clinics.

Getting admitted is the hard part. Then comes paying for it...
 

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Dianaleez, my coworker’s daughter went to A&M, undergrad and then vet school. It’s one of two in Texas vs. 12 medical schools. Veterinarians have to know all species and doctors only one. Must love animals and be really, really, smart to get accepted. I am deeply respectful of what it takes to get the degree.
 

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Hello! I am actually currently in my fourth year of vet school and am set to graduate with my DVM this May.
Wow! Congrats!
This turned into a small novel because I'm currently waiting to go back to the hospital for treatments and have nothing better to do,
I hope things are okay.
1) Stability is generally very good. People will always need medical care for their pets. While not completely recession proof as a profession, I know many clinics that have experienced 30%+ growth during COVID because of being an "essential business" and the boom of people adopting dogs and puppies while at home. There are always clinics hiring new veterinarians and new graduates currently have a lot of bargaining power in regards to their contracts
That's very good to know!
) This will vary a ton depending on where you are located and what type of practice you are in. For instance, the current average salary for a first-year (so just graduated) small animal exclusive veterinarian is around $92,000, last I heard. This number will be higher in big cities and smaller in more rural communities. I have a friend who graduated last year who is making six figures downtown in a big city. Mixed and food animal practitioners will make less. I believe equine exclusive makes the least (~$60,000 or so). Some clinics do production only, or a form of pro-sal, or salaried only. The average debt is probably around $200,000 coming out of vet school, but there are people who graduate with none and those with $400,000+. Your state (where you will get in-state tuition) will highly affect this.
These are the numbers for general practitioners. Those who specialize will make more, but the road to your specialty is long and complicated. I can definitely talk more about that if you're interested.
Interesting--I've heard that food animal practitioners actually make more. Then again, that was from a "I heard that someone heard" type of conversation. What if I was a vet for animals like birds, mice, or reptiles, in addition to typical pets? Would that be considered under the umbrella of small animal practitioner, or is that different? I did calculate it out, and I would likely have about $140,000 in debt in the end, if I didn't pay any out of pocket or get any sort of scholarships. But I do have almost all my general education credits done already. I would be going to Maryland-Virginia College of Veterinary Medicine. And speaking of scholarships, how hard is it to get financial aid? Please do talk more about it!
3) There are some great YouTube videos that follow a veterinarian through their typical day of work. It will vary depending on the type of clinic and your interests. Personally, my future work day will see general, 15 minute well- and sick-appointments from 8-9 AM. From 9-12 AM, I will be in surgery. Lunch break from 12-2. From 2-6 I will see more appointments. My work week will be Monday through Friday with every other or every third Saturday. The clinic I will be working at does not do on-call (unless you want to and the client has your personal number) or Sundays. We are also mixed, so there is the possibility for ambulatory work (once COVID is over). Again, this can vary greatly. Some days we take appointments until 7 because of emergencies coming in. I know some of my friends do four 10-hour shifts instead, plus weekends.
Do you have links to videos that you feel are accurate? The ones I've found kind of glaze over what the vet actually does, and just focus on "yeah, I do paperwork and pet a cute puppy, then do some other, random vet stuff". Right now, I work most Saturdays, so I'll admit that taking at least every other Saturday off sounds very appealing to me. What does ambulatory work entail? Just emergencies that come in, or do you go to house calls?
You should negotiate for a minimum of 2 weeks of vacation and a good amount of days for continuing education (CE). You have CE requirements where you learn new skills or current research to maintain your license, and there are some super fun, big conferences held in major cities that your boss should pay for you to attend. This should not come out of your vacation time
Wait--you should get paid to go learn more? That's cool!! How many days would you consider enough?
Vet school is hard to get into because of the limited number of seats. I have linked my school's most recent admission statistics. The current trend is away from GPA and GRE scores and towards more soft skills, like emotional intelligence and good communication. However, vet school classes are very hard, so a high GPA makes it easier to get in. You must also have a minimum number of vet experience hours, which varies by school. I like to recommend a minimum of 1,000 hours, but there are many people who get in with less than that.
I would be more than happy to discuss entrance requirements in more detail with you.
Those applicant numbers are encouraging. It seems like a little under half of the 'qualified' applicants do end up getting in! I guess I need to work on my communication a little bit more over the years. I'd love to discuss entrance requirements! What do you think are the most common traits of the people who wind up getting in?
Tying in to above, I would say take a year off and get as much experience as you can, and make sure it is true veterinary experience, not just animal experience. This would mean working or shadowing (like an intern) at a veterinary clinic. This will help you decide if the industry is right for you before you put a ton of time and money into vet school. I'm going to be completely honest. Vet school sucks. Like, a lot. And there is a rising number of veterinarians (and students) committing suicide because of the emotional and physical strain. We have many talks with counselors about maintaining our mental health, but it's hard. Clients are always angry that diagnostics cost money. Dr. Google has taken over common sense. Pet store employees are suddenly veterinary nutritionists and behaviorists. But I cannot see myself doing anything else and I would not change anything. I have worked as a technician for 7 years. I have held long-time patients as they were euthanized and cried with their owners. Some days suck, but for every bad client who writes a nasty review online, there are 10 good ones who send your whole hospital treats over the holidays and who hand write you cards of gratitude. It is an incredibly rewarding profession, but you have to have a thick skin and know that you cannot save every patient. All you can do is make their lives as good as you can while they are here.
Working first sounds like a good idea. It stinks that the emotional aspect of it is so hard sometimes, and I can't imagine how it must be for clients to tell you that they know better... Does the clinic you work at require that you talk with counselors? I've gotten a good, solid taste of the rotten side of people over the past few months, but, as you said, the bad ones tend to be outnumbered by the good ones.
All you can do is make their lives as good as you can while they are here.
And this is very true. It's a big reason why I want to be a vet.
Sorry that this is 50 pages long, but I hope I answered your questions! Please feel free to reach out to me with any others you may have, and good luck making a decision!
Please don't apologize! I need all the info I can get! Thank you so much!

After doing a lot of reading and researching and searching and praying, I've come to a decision, and made an advising appointment to change my major. I told my parents today (I'm paying for everything but the essentials for life, but they like to know what my plans are). It's a big change, and it's going to be a lot of work and require a lot of sacrifice, but if I'm going to work most of my life, then I'm going to spend that time doing something I really want to do, not something that's supposed to put me well off financially. As the saying goes, money can buy you a lot of things, but it can't buy you happiness.
 

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Interesting--I've heard that food animal practitioners actually make more. Then again, that was from a "I heard that someone heard" type of conversation. What if I was a vet for animals like birds, mice, or reptiles, in addition to typical pets? Would that be considered under the umbrella of small animal practitioner, or is that different? I did calculate it out, and I would likely have about $140,000 in debt in the end, if I didn't pay any out of pocket or get any sort of scholarships. But I do have almost all my general education credits done already. I would be going to Maryland-Virginia College of Veterinary Medicine. And speaking of scholarships, how hard is it to get financial aid? Please do talk more about it!
In general, most food animal practitioners are working in rural communities. Low cost of living = low salary. However, there are some exceptions in the production world. I've heard if you can tolerate only ever working with chickens, and working in an industry where "depopulate" is a frequently used treatment option, poultry vets make b a n k. I've heard similar things for swine, mainly because not a lot of people want to do the work. I don't have the exact numbers for either of those industries, but these would be the big guys, not mom and pop organic farms. This is Tyson, Smithfield, JBS, etc. But your run-of-the-mill vet in Podunk Nowhere, population 3,481, isn't going to be making six figures, probably ever.

If you wanted to do small exotics (also known as "pocket pets"), you would likely be working in a large city. There are some clinics that see exclusively pet exotics, which generally would pay more, because while Jo Schmo down the road isn't going to pay for his goldfish to be put on antibiotics, but people like Richie Rich will shell out the $200 for the meds. However, just like every kid who liked animals wanted to be a vet when they grew up, every veterinary student will, at some time, think that they want to go into exotics. This means it is very competitive to get these jobs, and if you want to do big exotics (zoo animals), those positions are almost once-in-a-lifetime. In general, though, you will find a lot of otherwise "small animal exclusive" clinics seeing these exotics, because a lot of people have birds who need their wings trimmed or rabbits who have hurt their backs. Even if the clinic doesn't currently see exotics, it is a marketable characteristic to have interest and background in species that would grow the practice with minimal new equipment. Getting this experience will be a combination of choosing electives during school and doing your own learning via textbooks, internships, or continuing education after you graduate. It is definitely something you can build up, and vets who will see pocket pets are becoming more and more common.

Honestly, $140,000 sounds pretty darn good. I'm not familiar with that CVM, but that's probably a good thing haha. The only ones I know of are the very large, expensive schools (UCD, Penn) or the ones with horrible controversy in the past few years (Ross, Midwestern). I will also say that if being a vet is really what you want to do, if you do not get into your in-state on the first application, do not be afraid to start applying out-of-state. Many schools (my own included) waive out-of-state tuition if you maintain a certain GPA. Other financial aid can be hit or miss, depending on what characteristics you have that are applicable to various scholarships. I get probably a few to several thousand dollars every year in scholarships, but one of my friends gets $10,000 every semester because a retired vet set something up for anyone from her hometown who goes to my school. It just depends. Most people pay for tuition mainly through loans.

Do you have links to videos that you feel are accurate? The ones I've found kind of glaze over what the vet actually does, and just focus on "yeah, I do paperwork and pet a cute puppy, then do some other, random vet stuff". Right now, I work most Saturdays, so I'll admit that taking at least every other Saturday off sounds very appealing to me. What does ambulatory work entail? Just emergencies that come in, or do you go to house calls?
I couldn't find the good video I was thinking of. It's possible I saw it on Facebook and now it has been lost to the internet. There's this pretty good TedTalk by a veterinarian (minor trigger warning for suicide mention - nothing specific). Her discussion on compassion fatigue is very insightful. You can then go down the TedTalk rabbit hole (which almost caught me - The Emotional Costs of Euthanasia is another good one). If you want a "day in the life of a vet student" I can do one of those, too haha.

Scheduling can definitely vary depending on where you work, but that can be a bargaining situation for you. Some clinics are open all weekend, and mine is only a half day on Saturdays, not Sundays at all. Emergencies are a clinic-by-clinic thing. Mine takes anything at any time, triaging where necessary. When we do ambulatory work, that is where we drive to the client's house or property to see their animals. This is most common in small animals for euthanasia and then any large animals that cannot haul to the clinic or for herd work (beef cattle in my area). Lots of clinics do not do ambulatory, but as we see farm animals, we pretty much have to.

Wait--you should get paid to go learn more? That's cool!! How many days would you consider enough?
This is another thing you'll have to negotiate for in your contract. I'm going to ask for a lot, probably 2 weeks and around $5-7,000, because I will be the youngest vet at the clinic by far and I know that they are relying on me to bring in new technology. I also love surgery, but I need a lot more practice before I can do screws and plates for broken bones. CE will let you do that on donated cadavers before working on a client's animal. But I know some places that will only do 3 days and $1,000, which is maybe one large conference, maybe not even that. But because I'm asking for more, my salary will be lower in exchange. It's always a trade-off. You also have to maintain a minimum number of CE per year in order to keep your license.

Those applicant numbers are encouraging. It seems like a little under half of the 'qualified' applicants do end up getting in! I guess I need to work on my communication a little bit more over the years. I'd love to discuss entrance requirements! What do you think are the most common traits of the people who wind up getting in?
One thing to remember is that everyone is smart, so that is almost never the defining thing that gets you in. You want to be empathetic, compassionate, and have good people skills (but they can teach you to cheat those if you're socially awkward, like me), but also very organized and analytical. Our school made us do the silly Myers-Brigg thing, and there were people in all quadrants, so there is no "one type". Vet school is a lot like high school. There are only ~100-150 of you, you're all in the same classes, and you all have lunch at the same time. There are cliques, popular kids, and teacher's pets just like high school. You make your own friend group, and then you just try to get along with everyone else just in case you're partnered with them on a group project or for surgery.

Working first sounds like a good idea. It stinks that the emotional aspect of it is so hard sometimes, and I can't imagine how it must be for clients to tell you that they know better... Does the clinic you work at require that you talk with counselors? I've gotten a good, solid taste of the rotten side of people over the past few months, but, as you said, the bad ones tend to be outnumbered by the good ones.
My clinic is definitely on the old school side of things haha. No mandatory counseling. There isn't any mandatory anything at my school, either, but there are counselors available that belong only to the vet school, not the undergraduate students. We do have those wellness lectures I mentioned earlier, but it's very much "you get out what you put in" kind of thing.

Congratulations on the major life change! Like I said, I love the industry, and almost all of the people are in it for the right reasons. There are many people who change career paths even later in life, so you will not be alone in not gunning straight for vet school immediately upon being born.

I am incapable of being succinct, so here's another novella for your enjoyment. As always, hit me up with any follow up questions you may have!
 

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Oh, dear, it’s been a bit of time since this post... Sorry about that! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer!

The chicken thing makes sense. I’ll bet that’s what the person I spoke with was talking about. Don’t think I want to do that, though 😬.

Interesting about the exotics. I’ll admit that working at a zoo (especially with the birds) would be my “pinch me, I’m dreaming” job, but I guess that’s true for a lot of people!

Thanks for the video! I watched the costs of euthanasia TED, too. I had tears in my eyes like ten seconds in 😅. It doesn’t help that the lady is so soft spoken... Do they teach you how to handle that in vet school, too? I’m probably the most socially awkward person ever to exist, so I’m relieved to hear that they can at least help with that.

Got a couple more questions for you, if you don’t mind (and I promise, I’ll actually message back this time!):
What things other than the 1,000 hours would you recommend doing to make you more attractive to vet school?
Do you have any books you recommend? Textbooks that I could use to get a jump start?
How do vets deal with allergies? I have a mild cat one. Have you heard of human allergy shots working?

Thank you again!
 

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A hint on allergies, they only get worse with exposure. I know a number of people who work in animal research labs. Over half of them need to wear N95 masks while at work to control their allergy symptoms. One has to wear a full respirator. Another one has had to leave the field entirely. Her allergies got so bad that she is now in danger of going into anaphylaxis if she walks into a house with any kind of pocket pet, cats, or even wild mice nesting in the walls. One of my other friends has downsized her bird collection after finding she was getting increasingly sensitive to bird dander.
 

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Interesting about the exotics. I’ll admit that working at a zoo (especially with the birds) would be my “pinch me, I’m dreaming” job, but I guess that’s true for a lot of people!
Yeah, it is highly competitive because people generally don't just leave their position without something major happening. If that's something you'd be seriously interested in, then I would recommend that you start building relationships with any zoo vets/people you can. It will likely be hard to impossible, what with the COVIDness and all, but finding residencies is a lot of "who you know" type stuff and it's never too early to start networking.

Thanks for the video! I watched the costs of euthanasia TED, too. I had tears in my eyes like ten seconds in 😅. It doesn’t help that the lady is so soft spoken... Do they teach you how to handle that in vet school, too? I’m probably the most socially awkward person ever to exist, so I’m relieved to hear that they can at least help with that.
I would imagine that the quality of emotional preparation you have depends on which program you join. We talked more about how to have those difficult conversations with clients than managing your own emotions at my school. I'm a sympathetic crier myself, but I know that even if I feel teary-eyed it won't affect my mental health in the long run. That is something that you should really think about as you shadow other vets to make sure that you will be able to handle the emotional strain.

Got a couple more questions for you, if you don’t mind (and I promise, I’ll actually message back this time!):
What things other than the 1,000 hours would you recommend doing to make you more attractive to vet school?
Do you have any books you recommend? Textbooks that I could use to get a jump start?
How do vets deal with allergies? I have a mild cat one. Have you heard of human allergy shots working?
I don't mind at all!
1) Vet schools want a well-rounded individual, but honestly if you were active in any organizations during your undergrad career and just need to take the year to build vet experience, that would probably suffice. I also don't want you to get too hung up on that 1,000 number. It's just a ball park, and there are many, many people who got into vet school with less hours and people with more hours who were rejected. Focus more on having good, varied experiences.
2) I recommend the "Red Rising" series by Pierce Brown. ;) But in all seriousness, do not worry about any kind of studying before you actually start vet school (and that's starting, not being accepted). The textbooks are horrendously dense and would be difficult to sufficiently comprehend without the background your professors will provide you. Every year we have incoming first years ask what textbooks they should read before class, and every year we tell them to wait until the professors email out the syllabus and only then are they allowed to read maaaaaybe the first chapter, if the professor wants it done before the first day of class. Read for fun, or about your interests (which can then be more general stuff about, like, dog training, wildlife enrichment, etc. if you want to feel slightly more productive).
3) My roommate (another 4th year vet student) actually has a semi-severe cat allergy herself. She is planning on getting allergy shots after she graduates and can afford them, but until then she is just very careful about always wearing gloves, avoiding touching her face, and limiting unnecessary time with cat patients. In my neck of the woods, we probably see 75% dogs, so she is not exposed to cats to the same extent and is able to manage her allergy. I'm not aware of anyone else in my class dealing with significant allergies.

Don't worry about reply time! I just type my response during breaks between patients, so you definitely aren't keeping me waiting haha. I'm also only running on half-power right now, so let me know if I can clarify anything for you!
 

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If that's something you'd be seriously interested in, then I would recommend that you start building relationships with any zoo vets/people you can.
Okay! I think I’ve looked into this before, and the zoos close to me have volunteer opportunities where you stand and answer questions about animals. At the very least, it could help me out with getting into school, I suppose!
Focus more on having good, varied experiences.
Would joining different clubs other than my base subjects be a good idea, then? I think my college has a couple hundred of them! Or should I be shooting more along the lines of volunteering different places? Or both?
I recommend the "Red Rising" series by Pierce Brown. ;)
Ah, I see! 🤣
I’m trying to work my way through the list in this thread right now, so I guess I’ll keep doing that, then!
3) My roommate (another 4th year vet student) actually has a semi-severe cat allergy herself. She is planning on getting allergy shots after she graduates and can afford them, but until then she is just very careful about always wearing gloves, avoiding touching her face, and limiting unnecessary time with cat patients.
Interesting—does she wear a mask, too? How bad is it when she does have cat patients and does everything to make sure she keeps the allergens away?
Thank you again!
 

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Would joining different clubs other than my base subjects be a good idea, then? I think my college has a couple hundred of them! Or should I be shooting more along the lines of volunteering different places? Or both?
It's really up to you! Personally, I was very active in two clubs (a service dog training organization and the campus's pre-vet club) and minimally active in some silly honor society. I think it would be most worth it to pick one-three organizations that you can devote yourself to and be really active in. You would also want to shoot for an officer/other leadership position in at least one, if possible. At my university, all the clubs had opportunities to volunteer within their scope (the pre-vet club helped with alpaca herd-health things and did dog walking for a disabled alumnus, raising service dogs is a community service in itself, but that club also helped train shelter dogs, etc.) and participated in larger happenings around the city. I never had to look for specific volunteer opportunities elsewhere. The possible position at the zoo would also be a great place to start!

In the grand scheme of adding up hours of stuff, the most important is to have veterinary hours, then animal experience, and lastly volunteer hours. I would definitely focus on the former two first (with the exception of the zoo position, which would likely get you both animal and volunteer hours).

Interesting—does she wear a mask, too? How bad is it when she does have cat patients and does everything to make sure she keeps the allergens away?
She did not wear a mask for our cat lab that I recall. Right now, because of COVID, we all have to wear masks all day erry day, so I'm sure that's helping her in clinics! For that 2 hour cat lab, she left with mild red eyes and itchiness. I have not heard her talk about any difficulties in clinics, but I know she went to take care of a friend's pets and couldn't even be in the bedroom where the cat was staying for more than 5 minutes, so its the circulation of the dander in the air that causes her respiratory signs.
 
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