Busy, Busy, 1st Term Vet student

Just a quick update. I know I havent posted in awhile and thats mainly because its a lot of work getting adjusted to life at vet school. I have had to change my study habits around which doesnt let me use the computer as much as I would like to. I will be posting more often once I get through these 2nd round of tests coming up.

Just a quick word of advice to prospective Veterinary Students out there. It is ALOT of work. Think you studied alot in Undergrad? Think again. I am pulling something like 60+hrs/week on school. This includes class time and study time. You really have to study like they tell you in undergrad orientation. Prep for class, review after class, and review the whole week on the weekends or you will get behind. In the end though it is a blast. Everyone is in it together and when there is a chance to go and grab a drink all your classmates have the same schedule and can go with you. Id say the ratio of School:Party is something like 6:1. Not too shabby.

The best thing you can do to keep your sanity is to dedicate a night (a whole day is better) to do nothing school related. I like to go snorkeling, sleep on the beach, hike, go to a bar, or just watch tv in your underwear all day. After a hard week your brain literally feels like you have been flexing it for a week. You need a release. If you do not it will have negative effects on your body and mind.
Petting a pothound helps relieve stress.

I will try to write more often. Im sure after years of writing on this I will have accumulated some sort of helpful links. One can only hope. Send any suggestions to me if you have anything you would like to say.


Labrador and Dolphin are Friends

I havent posted in awhile since I have been at vet school but this will have to suffice. I hope I see something like this here in Grenada.


The Importance of Grades for Getting Into Vet School

It is unfortunate that grades, as well as GRE scores, are weighed so heavily on admittance into vet school. People that have good GPAs but not 4.0s are not getting into schools solely based on a numbers game. So to help your chances good you need to keep your grades up. I had a 3.5 GPA, 1100 GRE, 2,500 hours of vet experience and didnt even get an interview for any US vet school. Dont get depressed by reading these numbers. There is always an exception to the rule. People get in with other things that could weigh heavily on their application. Such things could be your age, obstacles overcome, or personal disabilities. I will say that being only 22 upon applying probably had hurt me. People going back to school with more life experience are more likely to get accepted, in my opinion, than others straight out of undergrad.

So here are some admissions statistics from a select few vet schools:
UC Davis
  • Average GPA’s: Accumulative (3.48), Required Science (3.33), Last 45 semester units (3.61) 
  • Average GRE scores: Verbal (79% - 583 scaled score), Quantitative (76% - 721), Analytical Writing (65% - 4.72)
  • Average Age: 24 (age range 20-40)

University of Georgia 
  • Average GPA’s: Accumulative (3.57), Required Science (3.47), Last 45 semester units (3.63) 
  • Average GRE scores: V + Q (1170), Analytical Writing (4.3)
University of Florida
  • Average GPA’s: Accumulative (3.51), Required Science (3.56), Last 45 semester units (3.60) 
  • Average GRE scores: Verbal (524), Quantitative (679) 1203
So not every school's statistics are easy to find. These are just three that came first to me. But as you can tell there is a similar trend. The averages of these scores is something like this:
  • Overall GPA: 3.51
  • Science GPA: 3.47
  • Last 45 GPA: 3.61
  • Overall GRE: 1225
So in order to increase your chances at getting in grades are the most important part of the application. Its sad that it comes down to numbers, its partly due to people going back to school because of the economy. Some advice would be to do the absolute best you can your last 45units because it seems schools rely a lot on those scores as you can see they are higher than the rest. 

As for the GRE? I have a hate, hate relationship with it. I honestly dont know what a test about vocabulary words has to do with veterinary medicine and why it matters how well you score on this particular test. But it is something that you can never change and must accept it. So I recommend getting a book probably a year in advance and study all the time. In addition to taking prep class. It may seem like a lot but if you score really well on the GRE you will probably get into school with an average GPA.

Here are the links to the webpages of the US and International vet schools. Some link to the admissions pages so play around and search for statistics and any advice on their FAQs. 

Please choose the appropriate link to go to that school's website:
Veterinary Medical Schools in the United States
North Carolina State University
Ohio State University
Oklahoma State University
University of Florida
University of Georgia
Texas A&M University
Kansas State University Tufts University
Louisiana State University Tuskegee University
Michigan State University
University of Missouri
International Veterinary Medical Schools
University College Dublin (Ireland)
University of Prince Edward Island (Canada)
University of Glasgow (Scotland)
University of Calgary (Canada)
Massey University (New Zealand) University of Saskatchewan - Western College of Veterinary Medicine (Canada)
University of Melbourne (Australia) University of Sydney (Australia)
Universite de Montreal (Canada)
AAVMC Affiliate Member Veterinary Medical Schools*
National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)(Mexico) St. George's University (Grenada)
Ross University (St. Kitts) St. Matthews University (Cayman Islands)


A Little Vet Humor: DVM vs. MD

Traveling to Vet School

Well it has been along time coming now. I left Thursday Aug 5th at 6:10am for my long trip to Grenada for Vet school! I first travelled to Dallas then connected towards Tampa. In Tampa I got to visit some family. I stayed with Grandma Lucy the first night then my cousin Kaitlin the second. It was really great to learn more about my dads side of the family while I was out here. Its nice that I can stop in Florida and see them.

I am currently in the Tampa airport waiting for my flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I really dont know what to expect when I get there. Will it be Spanish or English? I am a little rusty with my Spanish so it will be an interesting experience. When I arrive I need to find the correct bus to take me to Old San Juan to find my hostel where I will be staying. Tomorrow I will hopefully get to go to the El Yunque rainforest to see some wildlife but we will see what happens. It was hard to find a tour on such short notice and with only 1 person. I will update this periodically when I arrive at different destinations.

Update #1:
P1020986I have landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is 10am. I have gone to find a bus to take me to my Hostel in Old San Juan. Turns out I cant find it and end up taking a taxi for $20 which took about 10min. On the way back I will just take the bus hopefully, even though it takes a few hours.

I got to my hostel and had to go hang out around town before I could check in at 1pm. I went to Cafe Berlin. The staff was really friendly and spoke english. They let me stay there for over an hour just using the wifi and hanging out. Badnews is that they charged for refills on tea and didnt tell me beforehand. Anyways I found this little plaza and took a picture of a Chris Columbus Statue in a fountain. It is really huge.

Update #2: 
It is ridiculously hot here now. The humidity is a killer. There is no way to cool off. I am tired so I will probably pass out soon. I had 2.5 hours of sleep last night and have been up since 4:15. I went for a walk around Old San Juan today and I got to see one of the forts. Around the fort there is a bunch of shops, food stands, and cool old architecture. There are many unique statues that look like the belong in Rome or Greece. The streets are pretty much all cobblestone. It feels like what I imagine Europe is like with the old designs.

I went to the Old Harbor Brewery in Old San Juan today. I had the taster set but wasn't feeling well so just had the samplers then left. I'm going to just stay in and sleep tonight and try and get use to the time zone again.
Update #3:
Today I woke up at 8am to go to El Yunque. I got ready and headed over to the Christopher Columbus Plaza where that big statue of him in the picture is. I was to meet a man named Roberto in an unmarked white van with tinted windows at 8:45am. I hadn't talked to him specifically but his buddy is a tour guide also and he set this up for me. So at about 9am the van rolls up. I head over and meet Roberto. He was a very charismatic native Puerto Rican but somehow managed to have no accent what so ever. We introduce each other then drive a few miles away to pick up the rest of the people on the tour. It was me and a family of 4. The dynamic was great for the type of tour it was. He let us wander around and do our own thing for a certain amount of time, then would get us together to go to the next site. 

The first stop was the information center, El Portal, for El Yunque. Here we saw some bugs, plants, and the very rare Puerto Rican Parrot! We proceeded to watch a 20min documentary about the rainforest narrated by the great Benecio del Toro. We left the ranger station and headed out to the car and found these massive caterpillars that were eating this plants.

Next stop was the La Coca waterfalls. They were pretty unique. They flowed down the side of a giant boulder. It reminded me of some decoration in a Vegas hotel or a Chinese restaurant.

Then we travelled to the Yokahu Tower. This observation tower has a great view of the whole side of the island. You can see all the way down to Luquillo beach where we had lunch as well as the valleys surrounding the tower and the peaks of the rainforest behind it.

The last stop on the tour was La Mina Falls. This waterfall was excellent as you can see. The only problem is that it started to pour on us right when we got to it. It was still a blast though.

Lastly we stopped here for lunch. I had something called Mofongo de Pollo. It was good. Dont know what it was, I think it had plantains in it.

I am now back at my hostel sweating and surfing the web. I am exhausted from today and travelling. I will be in Grenada in less than 24 hours. I will make sure to post when I have arrived. 

Update #4:
I have arrived to Grenada. I got in Monday Aug 9th at 11pm. I was supposed to land at 9pm but there was a delay in St. Vincent. Turns out you cant depart an airport if there is lightening on the tarmac. I arrived in the dark and got picked up by some new friends who took me to my house. I got in and met the roomates and their dog. 

The next day I was surprised with the same friends that picked me up from the airport at my door ready to pick me up to go eat and swim. I didnt have a phone yet so it was hard to communicate to people before. 

This morning I got picked up and went to campus to get my ID card and register for classes with the orientation. I must say that Grenadians are a slow working people. Very disorganized and just plain dont care about what they are doing. So what would have taken probably 30min to complete everything took 3 hours. To make up for it we ate at a great place on campus that had chicken wraps. So close to a burrito. It made me miss home a bit. Then I got a new phone so I can contact people in Grenada. Its from Digicel and was only $20. Phones are cheap the first week of school. Also all phones down here have flashlights on them, its so random.


Oh, Hi Vet School Forum!

I have decided to create a little forum as part of my blog. I am hoping it helps readers communicate with each other and share ideas. Go to the link on the top of my site:
Inside this page you will find Topics, Discussions, and Q&A. You can contact me through here or a direct email if you like. It looks something like this:

Please feel free to use these resources to help you with your application process for Veterinary school.


Where to Find Veterinary Experience?

Veterinary experience is one of the most important parts of your application to vet school. You will notice that vet schools require a small amount of experience as part of the admissions requirements. This is kind of a joke. UC Davis has a minimum of 180hrs needed to apply. Now the actual average is around 2,000 hours. If you start volunteering/working in high school you can easily surpass this average which makes your application that much stronger.

I have mentioned before how important experience is and what you should do to get it. I'm going to go more in depth in the areas where you can find animal related experience. While reading these suggestions know that I have done pretty much all of them and I would say that almost ALL veterinarians had to start with these same sometimes not-so-glamorous jobs.

Animal Shelter
This is where a lot of people get their first volunteering experience with animals. Most towns have a local animal shelter and if yours doesn't you might have to drive a little ways to find one. There are sometimes two options for working at an animal shelter. A) Paid or B) volunteer. Obviously getting paid is better for you since your time is money when in college but volunteering is a great experience. Donating your time helps the homeless animals find a family. The things you will be doing will be cleaning cages, feeding, walking, and playing with the animals. You might also work the front desk and do some paperwork. You may occasionally have a vet come in and do some spays and neuters you might get to help with if your lucky.

Ranch Hand
Working on a farm with large animals is some of the best experience you can get, even if its not what you are into. Vet schools want to admit people with large animal experience because the US government needs vets to work with dairies and poultry farms. If you have lots of large animal experience you have a 1up.  To find this kind of job you kind of need to be in the right area. Find a local ranch or dairy farm and ask to owner if you can have a job. It might not be the most glamourous work but experience is experience. If he is not willing to pay you, ask if you can just help out a few days a week. Another thing you can do is contact a local large animal veterinarian and see if you can help him out. Lots of times they know the community really well and will have some contacts they can refer you to.

Veterinary Technician
This is by far my biggest recommendation. I learned more from working at my animal hospital than any classes I took in college. You obtain first hand experience working side by side Veterinarians and other technicians. For me it was like having a Mentor show me the ropes. What you will be doing is talking to clients, administering vaccines, restraining animals, setting catheters, assisting euthanasias, trim nails, and  expressing anal glands! Thats the fun stuff, otherwise you have to clean a lot and maintain the hospital. The only place I really know how to find a job is through craigslist. Just search jobs and animal or veterinary. It took me a few months to find a job and in the meantime I volunteered at Project wildlife. I recommend once you find a job to still try and find ways to volunteer. A great thing about being a technician is that its paid. Generally pre-medical students can only volunteer and cant get paid for their experience hours but not so for pre-vets. :)

Heres a video showing some of the joys of being a Vet Tech.

*Note from my experience anal gland expression on a cat is pretty rare I worked at a clinic for 3 years and did maybe 2. Dogs though are really common. If a dog is scooting his butt its most likely cause  the glands need expressing.

These are helpful in gaining experience in different areas to do with animals. Im not sure there are exactly veterinary internships for pre-vets. I know Natural History Museums have good internships for students studying biology. I worked with reptiles at the Museum in San Diego for 6 months. Most of the work you do is with preserved specimens but still gets you acquainted with anatomy and taxonomy. Another place to look is at your college campus. There are internships in certain labs that can double as units and experience. The only other place I know of is at your closest zoo. I volunteered with elephants for a few years at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. I got to watch for the pregnant cow's labor signs. Didn't actually get to see her give birth but the whole internship is something I will never forget. It is such a crazy feeling being one of the only people in a zoo in the middle of the night.

Like more professional programs leadership is looked for in applicants. Most schools have pre-vet clubs or classes that students can take. I recommend getting involved in your freshmen  year with the programs in order to increase your exposure to the field. Become to the president of the pre-vet club and plan trips for the students to go volunteer at different organizations. Your pre-professional health advisor is your best resource make sure you use him/her to your advantage. I was able to teach a class as on the different aspects of veterinary medicine. I organized different speakers to come in to the class each week and speak about their specialties. This helped me learn to lead a class and make connections with veterinarians in my area. Definitely my most valuable leadership experience.

I got to shadow those speakers that came in to speak to my class. This is a good chance to see different aspects of veterinary medicine if you work at a small animal hospital. I got to shadow vets in the following fields: large animal, exotics, public health, military, and oncology. The more you shadow, the more you will be enlightened by the vastness of the profession. Vet schools want well rounded students so if you have experience in multiple fields you will look pretty good on paper.

Zoo Jobs
This is a vague section. From my understanding people that work for zoos need to start in food service or something like that. I know that at the SD Zoo you can start as a tour guide. That is a good place to start. From there you might be able to move up since most zoos hire from within. Being a zoo keeper would be great experience but probably pretty hard to do as a student. You might have luck at smaller community zoos. You may not start off working hands on with animals but hopefully you will move up and get to.

I hope this has been helpful in ideas to get veterinary experience. If you have any questions for me I would be glad to help answer them for you. Just post your question in the comments or send me an email.

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