The number of applications to vet schools continues to rise each year as the veterinarian career continues to gain popularity. Besides having a great love of animals, students should also have excellent grades and test scores before considering a career as a vet. There are many factors to making this career choice, and students should strongly consider each before deciding to pursue a career as a veterinarian.
Students considering attending school to become a veterinarian should, of course, have a love of animals. Schools look at the number of hours that the student has spent with different types of animals when considering the application. Students must not have any fear of animals, even when the animal is ill and may be skittish. Students must also be confident and have excellent communication skills to be able to deal with employees and owners of animals.
Admission to veterinarian school can be very difficult. Some argue that admissions here are more difficult than to medical school, as there are always many applicants to veterinarian schools but only 28 schools in the United States. Each school has its own benefits, and students should look early into the schools they are considering, as each has its own unique requirements.
The cost of attending vet schools can also be a factor, with private university tuition averaging more than public school tuition. No matter which type of school is chosen, the costs are high and student loans often have to be arranged. The cost of vet school can be more than the cost of medical school in some circumstances, and the income outlook for veterinarian doctors is not quite as great as that for medical doctors.
Veterinarians have the option to specialize in the types of animals they treat. Some choose to care for domestic pets, while others choose to work in zoos with exotic animals. Others choose to focus on research of animals or animal nutrition. Still others can work with animals on their behavior. Opportunities are also available in state and federal government, helping officials to decide the best course of action with wild animals. There are many areas of specialization available, and students should expose themselves to each to find the areas of interest for them.
What Makes a Good Vet School Student?
While gaining admission to vet schools can be extremely difficult, there are qualities and skills that can make students much more competitive. There are many things that veterinary schools take into account when considering a student for admission. Students must have a love of animals and extensive experience working with them. They must be able to retain large amounts of information and have a strong work ethic. They must also be confident and able to communicate well. While there are never any guarantees as to what any individual school may be looking for in its applicants, a well-rounded student has a much better chance of attaining admission with the above-mentioned traits.
Students interested in applying to vet school should have an extensive amount of experience working with many types of animals. Veterinary schools look for students that have experience not only with small animals, but also with large or even exotic animals. Students should obviously enjoy working with animals to be successful in their careers as veterinarians. Volunteer work with animal shelters is also considered good experience and looks good on applications to veterinary schools. Students should also consider volunteering with local veterinarians, zoos, farms, or county extensions to obtain additional experience with larger and exotic animals. The more well-rounded the experience, the more favorably it will reflect on the vet school application.
Well-qualified students must also have excellent grades to demonstrate both their ability to learn and their work ethic. Grades are given a significant amount of weight on the school application, with additional weight given for prerequisite courses in science and math in particular. Separate grade point averages are typically calculated for the prerequisite courses and are looked at in comparison with the overall grade point average. Good grades show that the student has the ability to learn and retain information and will also show that the student is able to work hard in classes, as vet school courses will be much harder than those taken at the undergraduate level.
Speech and communication courses are generally required classes for admission to vet school, and students should also strive to obtain excellent grades in these courses. While it may seem that vets do not need to be able to communicate well because they work with animals, nothing could be further from the truth. Vets need to be able to communicate with the owners of the animals they care for, often instructing owners in care and giving them vital information they need for the health of their pets. They also need to be able to communicate well with employees and coworkers, as veterinarians are often seen as the leaders of their workplace. Confidence in their ability to communicate will often translate to confidence when working with animals. Vets need to be able to convey confidence to both owners and to the animals themselves to help to provide care to the animals, as well as to minimize any possibilities of injury from animal bites or scratches.
Types of Vet Schools
There are many types of vet schools for students to choose from. Some schools put more emphasis on the traditional veterinarian role, focusing mostly on small and domestic animals. Others focus more on large animals or working animals, such as farm cattle. Students may also be able to study more exotic species at some schools while not having that opportunity at others. Students can also choose to attend a veterinary technician school instead of vet school. Choosing what type of vet school to attend can be the most important part of choosing a veterinary school.
While most veterinary schools provide the same basic education to aspiring veterinarians, some schools have a greater focus on certain types of animals. Most schools will focus on small and domestic animals, as the majority of vets will choose this as their primary practice. Other schools provide specialized education to vets pursuing careers in farming or with large working animals. These vet students may be more interested in learning about cattle, equine, and swine care than care of domesticated small animals such as cats and dogs.
Others may choose to attend a veterinary technician school, which teaches care of animals in a supportive role. These schools teach important techniques for supporting the work of the veterinarian, such as drawing blood, sterilization, and catheter placement. The requirements and prerequisites for vet tech school are often much less strict and provide a much lower barrier to entry than a traditional vet school.
One of the most important choices for those considering entering the animal medicine field is the choice of which type of school to attend. To ensure the education provided will be a good match, the student should have a good idea of what type of veterinary medicine they would like to practice before applying to any school.
Choosing Between Vet Schools
Many students find it difficult to choose between different vet schools. There are many factors to consider when making the choice. The student should consider what kind of vet school to attend, as well as the accreditation status of the school. The ranking of the vet school may also be an important factor in making the decision.
There are several types of veterinarian schools that students may attend. Some of these schools focus more on large animals than on small or domestic animals. Others may focus more on working animals, such as cattle or swine. Students should also consider whether attending veterinary technician school would be a better fit.
The accreditation status of the school should also be considered. Different agencies accredit schools to determine if they meet the basic requirements to provide a standard education to new veterinarians. Should a school lose or not have obtained accreditation, the student should carefully consider the consequences of attending such an institution.
Many news organizations provide school rankings that consider many factors about the school. These may include the difficulty of admission, the satisfaction of students, and the grades of newly admitted students. Though it may not be as important as other things, the ranking of the vet school should be considered when making the choice between schools.
Admission to vet schools is notoriously difficult for all students. The competition for entry is very high, with most students having excellent grades, test scores, and animal experience. While each school has slightly different admissions requirements, most have similar standards; it is often in the student's best interest to prepare for admission to multiple schools to ensure acceptance into at least one school.
Basic admissions requirements for veterinary schools include a bachelor's degree in some field of study. (There are, however, a few programs that do not have this requirement and that provide a bachelor's degree to the student after some specified length of time in the program.) If a student is applying to more than one program, as most aspiring vet school students do, a bachelor's degree should be a minimum requirement. Most schools do not have any specific degree requirements. Students are free to choose any major of their liking as long as all prerequisite requirements have been fulfilled. Because of the large number of science courses that are required for consideration for admission, many students choose to pursue a degree in a science field, usually biology or chemistry, as they take many of the same courses required for graduation just to be considered for vet school.
Each school has its own unique undergraduate course requirements, but most follow a similar outline for the required courses. In general, students should take science courses that are meant for science majors, even if they are not planning to obtain a science degree. Veterinary schools want students to experience the rigorous science courses for majors, as they are similar to the course of study in the graduate veterinary program. Students usually need at least one year each of biology and chemistry, and additional courses in organic chemistry, physics, math, English, biochemistry, and microbiology.
The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is another requirement for all students applying to veterinary schools. Most schools do not have a minimum score requirement but only ask that the student take the examination so that the score can be factored into an overall total. Do not be fooled, however, by the lack of a required minimum score. A good score on this examination will do nothing but help the applicant, and a poor score can take an otherwise good candidate out of the running for admission. Preparation for this exam with practice books or prep courses should begin early.
Experience with animals is also a requirement at all vet schools. Many schools like to see a wide variety of experience, while others want to see the total number of hours of experience and do not mind if the experience is gained in one place. The student should work with a veterinarian at some point, as all of the schools require at least one recommendation from a practicing veterinarian. There are many weighted factors to gain admission to any vet school. Different schools place different emphasis upon each, and it is up to the student to understand the requirements of the individual schools. Preparation is often the difference between receiving an acceptance letter or a letter declining admission.
Vet Schools Accreditation
Accreditation is an important factor when deciding which of the many vet schools to attend. Accreditation can be a strict process, and schools that are accredited have met a minimum threshold, demonstrating their commitment to excellence in veterinary education.
The accrediting body for veterinary medicine, for both veterinary schools and schools that provide education to veterinary technicians, is the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The AVMA provides strict guidelines for both types of schools and reexamines the schools often to ensure the standards and guidelines are being met.
The minimum standards set by the AVMA include assessing the facilities and equipment and evaluating the clinical experiences provided by the school. Also evaluated are the library facilities, curriculum, faculty, and admissions process. The accreditation process is rigorous, and the minimum standards that must be met are high. Accreditation by the AVMA gives aspiring students and the public the knowledge and confidence that the program is acceptable. Graduates from accredited programs can be licensed and are known to have achieved a minimum level of education.
Choosing a program that is not accredited can lead to difficulty in obtaining licensure. Some states require that veterinarians graduate from an approved and accredited program to be eligible to take the licensing examination for veterinarians. A nonaccredited degree can also make it more difficult to pursue further education in the field, as other graduate programs may have requirements that applicants have graduated from an accredited program.
Choosing an accredited program is an important part of the decision process for aspiring vets. The choice to attend a nonaccredited program can have lasting consequences far into the career of the veterinarian.
Rankings of Vet Schools
Some students may wish to consider the rankings of vet schools before applying to them. Published yearly by a large national magazine, these numerical rankings take into consideration different factors that are important to students. Though not scientific, and some may argue a bit too subjective, these rankings can indeed help students decide which schools they want to submit applications to.
US News and World Report publishes rankings of all schools of higher education each year. The veterinary schools are updated every other year, and the rankings are based on such things as accreditation, commitment to research, facilities, and peer assessments. Cornell University routinely ranks at the top of the list of schools of veterinary medicine and is considered one of the top veterinarian schools in the country. Several other schools routinely fall below the minimum cutoff to be ranked at all on the list. US News states that when the numbers are so low as to be embarrassing to the school, they simply do not rank the school at all.
While the ranking system purports to be objective, many subjective factors, such as the peer reviews, are considered in the rankings, as well. Though the rankings are an important factor when considering which school to apply to, they should not be the only factor or even the first factor. Better information can probably be obtained by speaking to current students of any school the aspiring veterinarian is interested in, as well as speaking with faculty members.
Last Updated: 02/27/2013