Free Online Info for Pre-Vets: Part I
Updated: May 11, 2020
Here are excellent, free, non-password-protected (as of this writing) websites for anyone contemplating becoming a veterinarian. There is information for everyone at all levels from grade school students to vet school applicants. In my next post, I’ll include some of the best tips from these sites.
You’ll find timetables for applying, requirements, vet school interviewing tips, how to get an internship and more. What do you do if you have mediocre grades (spoiler alert: It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker)? Learn the hot button veterinary issues, which are important to know, and especially helpful for interviews. The university sites have specific information for their students along with a wealth of information anyone can use.
The websites below provide a plethora of helpful advice—versus, well, “duh” (as in “get good grades”). They also direct you to other resources and have information that other sites lack.
Alex Avelino, pre-veterinary advisor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine wrote a brilliant, downloadable 36-page guide that includes:
· When to take the GRE
· How to get experience
· The pros and cons of science and non-science majors
· What if you are a little different?
· Advice to parents
· Interviewing preparation
Impeccable advice. The site includes, “Applying to Vet School FAQ” and “Veterinary College Prerequisite Courses – United States Universities” (near the bottom). Especially read “Components of a Successful Veterinary Application” on the home page.
Download this guide from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, College of Natural Sciences.
The authors cover all the steps to becoming a vet student: volunteering, leadership, grades, etc. while also encouraging personal reflection. You will be able to organize your application information.
The VIN Foundation (the nonprofit arm of the Veterinary Information Network*) produces both websites. They even encourage your questions. Iwanttobeaveterinarian.org explains what veterinary medicine is while vetschoolbound.org gets specific about how to apply and financing. The sites link to each other.
Debt is a huge stressor for veterinarians (salaries are only 1/3 to 1/2 that of physicians according to the site). The nearly two-hour webinar about Applying Smarter (2019) is worth the watch. The presenter is a veterinarian who accrued $400,000 in debt with his wife, also a vet. (I speeded it up.) He wants to spare you the same financial fate.
Iwanttobeaveterinarian.org: Read the downloadable brochure and also the blog, “Learn about Vet Life,” which has entries such as “Nothing is Routine,” and “This All Happened Before Lunch.” The top menu includes an FAQ, Tools, Vet School Info and Related Careers.
Use vetschoolbound.org, to find financing data for each school, prerequisites and many other useful tools. See which schools offer flexible curricula, smaller class sizes and problem-based learning. Blog entries include Applying Smarter Q&A: Application Questions.
Before you leave, read about Sophia Yin on the VIN Foundation site. Dr. Yin was an innovative behavioral vet who sadly committed suicide. If you become a vet or own pets, she will have influenced your work.
*The VIN Foundation is the charitable arm of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN®). VIN itself is an "online community of veterinarians and veterinary students with over 70,000 members worldwide.” It provides information, expert-moderated message boards, relevant breaking news and more to its members. VIN is free to vet students, interns, residents and vet school faculty. Veterinarians pay to join. VIN membership is not open to pre-vets (but VIN Foundation materials are free and open).
This well written guide explains veterinary careers in detail. It also lists Canadian schools, entrance information and statistics. At the end, information is included about RVTs, registered veterinary technicians/technologists. The descriptions of the careers cut across national boundaries.
The American Veterinary Medical Association website includes pre-vet information, but frankly other sites are more extensive. Instead learn about important issues affecting veterinarians and public policy regarding animal welfare (good to know and helpful for your interview). This site is essential for vet students and vets—less so for pre-vets.
Explore the AAVMC site. In the future, you may be using the VMCAS centralized vet application system (on the website) to apply to vet school.
The vision statement of the AAVMC is, "To promote and protect the health and welfare of animals, people and the environment by generating new knowledge and preparing the high quality veterinary workforce needed to meet continually changing societal demands for veterinary expertise. Membership includes US, Canadian and international programs.
Select the Student Applicants and Advisors tab and click on Pre-vet Student Resources. The landing page is not as helpful as other sites, but other pre-vet information is stellar. As you explore, read their initiatives to make veterinary medicine more diverse. Under Programs, note their efforts on behalf of animal welfare.
My favorite part: the AAVMC Cost Comparison Tool. Hover over locations on the interactive map to compare US, Canadian and other international schools. There’s an FAQ for High School Students and Parents. Peruse the interactive map of Admitted Students Stats.
Peers answer your questions. The site seemed particularly helpful to learn about vet school interviews at specific schools and how to decide between schools. There are forums for pre-vets, veterinarians and vet students as well as physicians, dentists, physical therapists and others.
Career Girls believes that girls can “discover their own path to empowerment.” The site is laden with well-indexed videos of “role models”and additional information. The site is STEM-centric but includes other fields. High school students and underclasspersons (not only girls) might especially benefit from this inspiring starting point. The website is not intended for those who want to know more about the intricacies of applying.
The videos are fun—filled with accomplished and enthusiastic people. I viewed the videos by role models Dr. Araba Oglesby (how to get an animal to trust you--worth the watch), Rachel Feigenbaum and Marcia Backstrom.
A caution: The vets were asked why they became vets and all mentioned a love of animals; two added medicine or science. Those are the heartfelt answers of practicing vets. Do not confuse that with vet school interview answers. Interviewers do not value--actually they hate--when candidates say “I love animals.” (it's seen as superficial; use my other recommended links for interviewing tips).
UK offers a snapshot of veterinary medicine. The source of much of their information is the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Occupational Outlook Handbook, see below). This is not the place to learn about financing your vet school education or where to volunteer, but it had information the other sites did not, and was the first one I saw that mentioned conferences for pre-vet students.
Kentucky had me at the intro: “There is a saying that veterinarians are medical doctors who are not limited to one species of animal. This is very true. In training to become a veterinarian, you will learn about cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, poultry, dogs, cats, and other animals, including wildlife…”
The University of Kentucky has pre-vet sites for students in other colleges at the university, but they were less helpful to those outside the university.
The OOH is produced by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and is the US government’s source for career information including median salary, what vets do and future need. The site also includes similar jobs, and links to O*Net Online (which lists required skills but you might not find as helpful). It is easy to compare different careers and is best used by those debating about going into veterinary medicine.
In 1993 by Dr. Ken Boschert developed two sites with eye-popping comprehensive links regarding animals and veterinary medicine. “…No gimmicks or schemes, simply an attempt to help people and their animals...” He was ahead of his time and he did it on his own time.
Because he has since focused on his work at Wash U in St. Louis, the links have not been updated since 1999 and many are broken. There are still some useful links (especially the lists of schools) and the retro graphics may make you smile. I hope one day he has the opportunity to update the site.
The APVMA is a membership organization for pre-vets, so it is the exception to the list of free sites. Currently, individual dues are $10 and pre-vet groups pay $25-$80 depending on the number of students in the club. Membership includes the opportunity to participate in meetings and the national symposium (you can’t go if you are not a member). Membership is not limited to US schools. Even if not a member, you can enter your email address for updates. The newsletter is free online and has articles including, “I Got Rejected a Lot—And I Will Be a Better Doctor Because of It.”
Kudos to these sites. The creators developed great websites for you to find information and get advice. If you are a student and your school doesn’t have a comprehensive site (not all offices have the staff to create one), consider starting one, maybe as part of a pre-vet club. You will learn a lot and help many. Also, let me know if you find other great sites. Finally, thank you for wanting to help animals and best wishes for all of your future plans.
These links will be put on the CareerMutt webpage. Visit CareerMutt.com for more information about veterinary and other animal-related careers. Contact me if there is a topic you would like us to cover.
Part 2 will be tips from pre-veterinary sites.
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