How to Prepare for a Career in Veterinary Medicine

Prepare for a veterinary career by researching vet school requirements, enhancing your application, and gearing up for interviews. This guide outlines key steps for your successful journey.

Preparing for a career in veterinary medicine can be an intimidating process. With the right amount of planning, research, and hard work, you can make your dream of becoming a veterinarian come true. From exploring vet school requirements to improving your application and preparing for interviews, there are many steps along the way that can help you succeed in this rewarding field. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the key steps you should consider taking to ensure success in your journey. 

Understand the traits a good vet should have 

To enter this rewarding field of work, you need more than just good grades and veterinary school admission. You also need to develop certain qualities that will help you succeed as a vet. Here are a few qualities to work on: 

  • Communication Skills: The ability to communicate complex topics in layman’s terms is essential when consulting with pet owners about the best care options for their animals. 
  • People Skills: Veterinary medicine is a service-oriented career that requires the ability to build relationships with clients, colleagues, and animals. This includes being empathetic, patient, and understanding of the needs of both humans and animals. 
  • Ability to work under pressure: From medical emergencies to tight schedules, veterinarians must work quickly and efficiently in stressful situations. Being able to remain calm and make sound decisions under pressure is a must. 
  • Scientific curiosity: Veterinary medicine is a science-based career, so having a passion for learning new things and applying scientific principles to your work will be very beneficial. 

Volunteer or find a job at a veterinary office 

Volunteering or working at a veterinary office is an excellent way to become more familiar with the field of veterinary medicine and gain valuable experience that can help you get accepted into vet school. Not only will it give you hands-on exposure to the work environment, but it will also provide insight into the day-to-day operations of a veterinary practice. You’ll also be able to network with professionals in the field and make valuable connections that can help you throughout your career. 

In addition to volunteering at a vet office, you can also volunteer or work at local animal shelters or animal control units. This will give you further insight into the industry and provide you with experience working with animals. 

Ask established veterinarians about their experiences 

It’s important to ask the professionals you meet at a veterinary office or animal shelter about their experience in this field. Ask them what they love and don’t love about their work, how they got started in the field, and how they prepared for vet school. You can also inquire about the challenges associated with being a veterinarian and the skills and qualities they believe are important for success in this field. Getting these insights from experienced professionals can help you better understand the career and decide if it’s the right path for you. 

Start your preparation early 

Getting accepted into veterinary school is a highly competitive process, so it’s important to start your preparation early and establish the key prerequisites you’ll need to have in order to be an attractive candidate. 

You can work with a guidance counselor at your current school to choose the best classes for getting into vet school. While science courses are essential, you should also consider taking other subjects, such as English and Social Sciences, as these can also help you develop the communication and interpersonal skills needed for a successful career as a veterinarian. 

Research veterinary schools 

When it’s time to actually apply to vet school, you will need to do extensive research in order to make the best veterinary school choice for your learning style and career goals. Becoming familiar with the admission requirements, typical educational costs, and each school’s academic strengths and weaknesses will help you make an informed decision about which schools to include on your application list. 

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, contact each school’s admissions department and take an online tour to get acquainted with the facilities and faculty. Doing so will give you a good sense of the overall atmosphere of the school and allow you to gain firsthand knowledge about what it’s like to be a student at that particular institution. 

Join interest groups, associations, or organizations 

Joining interest groups, associations, or organizations related to veterinary medicine can help you build a network of contacts and gain valuable knowledge about the field. Some examples include: 

  • American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 
  • National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) 
  • Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) 
  • Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV) 
  • American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) 
  • National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). 

These groups can provide you with access to career mentors, educational resources, and networking opportunities that can help you prepare for a successful career in veterinary medicine. 

Prepare a strong application 

Finally, make sure you put together a strong, well-written, and informative application package. While good grades are important for getting into vet school, your application should also highlight any other experiences that have helped to develop your understanding of the veterinary field. Emphasize any unique skills or qualities you possess that would make you an ideal candidate for the program. You can use our detailed guide to applying to veterinary school to help you prepare an effective and competitive application. 

Tips to better prepare for a career in veterinary medicine 

Here are a few extra tips to help you further prepare for a career in veterinary medicine: 

  • Take advantage of career resources available at schools, community colleges, local libraries, and veterinary school admissions offices. This includes attending career fairs and informational sessions. 
  • Work for several veterinary practices to gain broader exposure to the veterinary field. For instance, you could volunteer at an animal hospital or a shelter and work as an assistant in a private practice. 
  • Keep a journal of your experiences. Write down what you’ve learned, which techniques you find most helpful, and which challenges you face. This will help you reflect on your journey and be able to articulate your experiences when applying for vet school. 
  • Ask for more responsibility (if you feel comfortable doing so). For example, you can ask to help with complex cases or assist the vet with diagnostic tests. 
  • Read up on the latest developments in veterinary medicine. This will help you keep track of emerging trends and technologies, which can help you stand out when applying to vet school. 
  • Network with professionals in the field by attending conferences, seminars, and other events. These can help you build your professional network and gain valuable insights into the veterinary profession. 

Apply to a veterinary school that supports you 

Finding a school that understands your interests, goals, and career aspirations will help you to feel more comfortable with the overall process of applying and attending vet school. At St. Matthews School of Veterinary Medicine, we offer an experience that is tailored to meet the unique needs of every veterinary student. Our faculty members are dedicated to providing personalized guidance in order to help students develop their veterinary skills and knowledge. So, if you’re looking for a veterinary school that will support your journey toward becoming a successful veterinarian, consider applying today. 

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