Veterinary Medicine  Program Description


Insider Info

dotIf you want to go to veterinary medical school, be prepared to put in the time and hard work to get excellent grades. Competition is fierce. And simply having a love of animals isn't enough.

The first step is a pre-vet program. These generally last two to three years. But many students decide to complete a four-year undergraduate degree before going to veterinary school.

In general, you'll want to choose a pre-vet school that has a strong biological science program. That's according to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). You can get a good biological science foundation at some liberal arts colleges.

But in the U.S., there are benefits to going to a school that has ties to the college of agriculture at a state university. That's because most of the state universities have programs tailored to the needs of the veterinary schools.

All veterinary schools must meet standards established by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Expect to take courses in anatomy, biochemistry, embryology, physiology, microbiology, clinical medicine, surgery and more. Don't expect to spend much classroom time with actual animals until your last two years.

That's why outside experience with animals is so important. The earlier you start and the more you get, the better.

Volunteer at a zoo or an animal clinic. Keep a diary of the kind of work you do. That could help you figure out what kind of veterinary medicine you want to specialize in.

Roberta Dwyer is a veterinary professor at the University of Kentucky. She recommends working with vets to gain experience. Join any leadership clubs that emphasize communication skills. Try activities that emphasize working with people.

"It takes much more than just liking animals to be a veterinarian," she says. "You have to be able to work with people as well, since they own the animals!"

In high school, concentrate on science and math. Also, participate in science and chemistry clubs, science fairs, 4-H, Future Farmers of America (FFA) or other agricultural activities.

Schools look for well-rounded students, says Dana Allen. Allen is a professor of small animal internal medicine at a veterinary college. "[Veterinary students should be] not only academically strong, but demonstrate involvement in extracurricular activities, for example, sports, the arts [and] the community," Allen says.

You'll need thermometers, stethoscopes, lab materials and lab coats. The cost for these can really add up.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Veterinarians

Center for Veterinary Medicine
A great place for information

NetVet and the Electronic Zoo
Lots of neat resources
News and resources for those interested in animal rights issues

Healthy Pet
Information from the American Animal Hospital Association

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this program is about? Check out Just the Facts for a simple description.