What to expect at veterinary school
If you love animals and are interested in medicine, then a career as a veterinarian could be a perfect choice. Being an animal doctor can be rewarding and varied, but studying and qualifying will take time and effort.
Even if you have a strong sense that you’d like to study veterinary medicine, it’s natural to want to know what vet school is like and wonder if it is the right choice for you.
All veterinary students and schools are different, so a lot will depend on your preferences, how you study, and what program you choose. But it’s always a good idea to get perspectives from people who’ve been there and can give you a realistic sense of what to expect.
We spoke with Wilfredo Nunez Pacheco, one of our current veterinary medicine students, to get the inside scoop on what life is like as a student vet.
What does an average day in the life of a vet student look like?
Studying veterinary medicine is a full-time undertaking, so Wilfredo likes to get up early to get a good start and makes sure to take breaks, keep active, and socialize between classes.
“An average day for me starts at 7:00 a.m. by getting ready for school and arriving at 8:00 a.m. for my first class of the day. I usually have two or three classes per day, so it can be a bit tiring, but to keep active during the class breaks, I walk around the campus to stay awake and keep focus in class.”
“Days can be long, typically class will start at 8:00 a.m., and you’ll normally be studying into the evenings. For Wilfredo, although days might differ, sticking to a study schedule is important: “I’ve had lots of different average days and to-do lists, but my studying methods and dedication have always been the same.”
Why choose veterinary science?
There are lots of reasons why people choose to become a veterinarian. A love of animals, science, and different personal experiences can all contribute to these factors. Wilfredo’s desire to help care for stray animals in his hometown of Puerto Rico was a key driver.
“Unfortunately, back home in Puerto Rico, we have a lot of stray animals, especially dogs and cats; so I was always trying to help them in any way I could, and it always broke my heart seeing them suffer. So I made a promise back then to myself that in the future, I would do as much as possible to help them and that I would obtain a veterinary medicine graduate degree and come back home and not only open my own vet clinic but also create my own animal shelter in Puerto Rico.”
Is vet school hard?
There’s no doubt that veterinary school takes time, effort, and hard work, but according to Wilfredo, “when you have your study method and the correct time management, anything is possible.”
As with any course, studying away from home can be tough. But although Wilfredo found it “difficult and very emotional,“ he also took comfort from the great relationships he’s made at school: “Once you find friends and mentors, it makes your vet school experience worthwhile and enjoyable.”
Working towards becoming a vet before studying veterinary medicine
If you’re thinking about going into veterinary medicine, it’s a good idea to speak to experienced veterinarians and, if possible, secure some practical experience before you start vet school. That way, you’ll understand the day-to-day realities of a veterinarian’s life.
Wilfredo recommends “volunteering at shelters, zoos, or going to vet clinics and looking for veterinary mentors can help with any questions or concerns regarding [your] vet school future and career.”
Specialisms in veterinary medicine
Veterinary medicine is a varied profession, and there are many diverse areas in which you can opt to specialize. To specialize, you’ll normally need further study and complete a residency program after qualifying as a general practitioner. But you don’t have to decide straight away what you want to specialize in, and the veterinary school provides great opportunities for you to explore different specialties.
Wilfredo is looking forward to seeing what his clinical placement brings:
“If during my clinical year at Mississippi State University, I become fascinated or riveted by another specialty area, I would apply. But currently, small animal medicine is the area where all my focus is on, and hopefully [I’ll] make it my future career after clinical studies.”
Advice for incoming first-year vet students
Learning from the wisdom of those who have gone before you is always a good idea. For Wilfredo, his advice is to find a study method that works for you.
“Every student studies and learns differently, so copying other people’s studying methods doesn’t make sense. Once you find your method, the results should be staggering and worthy.”
Although studying and working hard should be your main priority, Wilfredo advises incoming students to make time for hobbies and interests.
“It is important to have hobbies, join school clubs, or distract yourself sometimes from constantly studying and working, but you must make studying and vet school, in general, a top priority.”
Study veterinary medicine at St. Matthew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine
If veterinary medicine sounds like the right fit for you, the next step is choosing a great school to support you on your veterinary journey. At St. Matthew’s University, you’ll learn all the essential theories and gain the practical skills needed to become a world-class veterinarian.
Our four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree follows the same curriculum as the top American and Canadian veterinary schools, so you won’t miss out on studying internationally. In fact, there are many added benefits to studying in a Caribbean school, like better affordability, studying in a beautiful location, and being exposed to a wide variety of marine life in their natural habitat.
At St. Matthew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, you’ll learn from doing and gain real-world experience with our well-established clinical rotations program. You’ll also benefit from small class sizes, personalized 1:1 support, and expert teaching staff within our beautiful island campus. And with a 92% North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) pass rate, you can be sure of a supportive and successful learning experience.
Learn more about our admissions requirements and application process. Contact one of our admissions team members, who will be happy to answer all your queries, or stay up-to-date on the latest St. Matthew’s news and events and follow us on social media.