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Veterinary Medicine

The traditional veterinarian maintained healthy and productive commercial food animals and livestock, secured the public health of human and commercial animals, and treated illness and disease in livestock, sport, and companion animals . Today, veterinary medicine encompasses a variety of diverse work settings. The majority of veterinarians work in private small, large or mixed animal clinical practices. However, jobs also exist in county, state and federal governments, in the armed forces, in universities, private industry, zoos, wildlife organizations, racetracks and circuses.

Personal Characteristics and Future Outlook. Seventy percent of veterinarians engage in private practice. Not all cater to the large animals of cl assic rural areas or to the cats and dogs of suburbia. In the past five years, there has been a increase of emergency animal clinics that treat trauma victims. There also is an increasing pool of specialties upon which many referrals are made such as dentistry, dermatology, opthamology, radiology, and surgery. In addition, mobile veterinary services come to your home, and mobile surgeons contract with general practitioners in their office. Practices may also be limited to exotic animals, aquatic animals, ca ncer treatment, and preventative medicine. Due to increased specialization and competition, private practices will grow and change.

The other 30% of vets work for county and state governments enforcing regulations established to protect the public health of humans and animals, eradicating diseases, and inspecting meat, fish, and poultry. Some of these agencies include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and The Center for Disease Control.

With a good outlook for the future, stay motivated to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. In 1993, the applicant pool was up 20.8% from 1989 with an almost equal distribution between male and female applicants. By 1998, veterinary schools reported significantly more female applicants and matriculants than males and some concern was raised about the "feminization" of veterinary medicine. Most veterinary colleges, whether public or private, now enroll many non-residents. Even so, students who apply to schools within their state have an advantage.

A vigorous discussion surrounds the question of veterinarian demand versus the supply. With increased competition, specialization, and medical technology, more effective treatment modalities are on the rise. With more flexible practices, new fields such as genetic engineering open each year.

How to Get into Veterinary Medical School

Preparation. The Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements indicates the specific requirements of each school, but most schools require one year e ach of general chemistry, general biology, math, physics, and organic chemistry. Although schools select students with a strong background in science, non-science courses are important as well. You will benefit with a science major especially if certain vet schools require you to take the biology subject GRE test. Animal and health-related experience also contribute to a well-rounded application. This experience can come in the form of shadowing veterinarians or animal research. Non-veterinary activities in clude working on a farm or in a zoo. Internships, private veterinary practices, research would offer any of these experiences.

Admissions. Vet schools consider competitive applicants with a GPA around 3.4, exposure to veterinary medicine, and leadership activities on campus or in the community. Without a standardized application service for U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine, students must request applications from each school individually.

Veterinary schools require a Health Professional Admissions Test, but schools vary on which one. Fifteen of the twenty-seven veterinary schools require the GRE. Ten schools require the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT). Again, consult the Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements for more information regarding tests requested by certain schools. Review manuals and prep courses will help you adequately prepare for these exams.

In addition, you will need letters of evaluation. As a pre-health profession student at t he University of Scranton, you may enter the Health Professions Evaluation Committee process. The committee letter along with each letter of evaluation will appear in your application packet to vet schools. Each school may also request official transcripts, not only from your undergraduate institution, but also from other schools attended (i.e. summer courses)

Lastly, your GPA and test scores often guide admissions committees to a decision. Each applicant has a unique story. So, students with jobs, not many extracurricular activities or a lower GPA should make this clear in the application.

Acceptance. After you complete your application, the school may offer an interview. Generally, the interview means that your qualifications meet school standards. Now, the admissions committee wants to know you better or they have remaining questions. Most important, be yourself and stay relaxed. To prepare for the interview, review your application forms. Also create a list of reasons why you wa nt to be a veterinarian. Research the school by looking at their catalog, viewing their website and preparing some questions of your own.


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