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Posted on 08-08-2017

Do you think veterinary field might be the right place for you?  Dr. Jesse Strong is here to help with some personal experience and words of wisdom! 

First some things to consider:

  • Being a clinical veterinarian is as much about working with people as it is about working with animals – if you don’t like working with people, this is not the career for you
  • Veterinarians must be comfortable seeing animals in pain and must be able to euthanize animals when appropriate – compassion fatigue is a real problem in this profession and we have a very high suicide rate so you have to be tougher than the average human to survive
  • Veterinarians have at least 8 years of college and veterinary school is HARD – you will have to study harder than you ever have before
  • Veterinary school is EXPENSIVE – the average debt for 2016 veterinary school graduates was over $155,000 and our salaries do not make up for it

The best piece of advice that I can give to someone interested in veterinary medicine as a career is to get a job in a veterinary hospital.  You can often get a job as a receptionist or a veterinary assistant without a degree or much experience.  This is an excellent way to get feel for what veterinarians do and see if this profession is the place for you.  All veterinary schools require a certain number of hours of experience working or volunteering with a veterinarian before they will consider admitting you into their college.  You will need recommendation letters from veterinarians, networking and meeting people in the profession is important.

Veterinary colleges also require that you take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) and that you complete some specific courses (prerequisites) prior to applying to veterinary school.  Most of these prerequisites are encompassed in some Bachelor’s degrees, such as Biology or Animal Science.  However, you can have any Bachelor’s degree and still get into veterinary school, as long as you meet the prerequisites required by the school.  If the college feels that you are a qualified applicant, you will be invited to come visit the campus for an interview.  If you don’t get accepted the first time that you apply, don’t get discouraged!  I know many great veterinarians who had to apply 2 or 3 times before they were accepted into veterinary school.

This is a wonderful profession.  The veterinary community is small and supportive and I am proud to call myself a veterinarian.  I will be in debt for the next 25 years, the hours are long, and compassion fatigue is a real problem.  Think long and hard before you make the commitment and understand that being a veterinarian is not an easy or glamorous or stress-free job.  You need to know how to take care of yourself before you can take care of the people and the pets that you interact with every day. 

I am grateful for this profession because it has given me the confidence to pursue things that I once thought were out of my reach.  Being a veterinarian has taught me to be more empathetic towards the suffering of others and to see the world as a place where everyone has bad days, but that does not mean they are bad people.  I have been able to work with men and women who are amazing at their jobs, working long hours, while still keeping their sense of humor and compassion.  It has prepared me for any challenges that I might face in the future and shown me that if you follow your curiosity, it can lead to some amazing places.

Dr. Jesse Strong

Follow me on Instagram @ramblingstrong for photos/inspiration

Check out my blog for general advice/tips about life on the road, camping, etc. at http://www.ramblingstrong.wordpress.com

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