Veterinary Medicine is for Spoiled Rich Girls

23 Jul

I understand this title might be unpopular.  And maybe a little strongly worded.  But even the dissenters have to acknowledge there has been a shift in the career’s image and it’s central figure–the veterinarian.  OR, you may disagree and chalk this post up to bitterness.  Which, OK maybe.  BUT despite any residual bitterness at being thrown out of my career dream before I was even allowed to really get started.  And P.S. this is based on MY observations in Missouri a.k.a. ONE state, ONE university, ONE veterinary hospital (the only one I worked at with other college students) of many.  Some facts:

The days of the 40-ish+ male anti-social with people, practical with animals farm/ranch background dude are over.  Now, mooveterinary medicine is dominated by young females with mid-size town backgrounds, a cheery people-loving social attitude, and combined brains/compassion/MONEY.  This shift has come with the popularity of pets.  Where veterinary medicine in the days of James Harriot was agriculturally based and more about business then companionship.

-Veterinary admissions perpetuates the need for $$$$$$.  A parent or backer of some kind would give a huge advantage.  The 20-somethings I worked with and the 30-somethings I encountered during my years of work really presented this.  These college kids went to school full-time (tuition fully paid by Mommy and Daddy) and worked very limited hours (for drinking money).  The parents had bought and paid for the cars, paid their housing expenses, and some even helped out with living expenses.  In short, all these students had to do was get their 4.0 and show up to their weekend shift at work.  The entering vets came in with the intention of working PART-time schedules, and each one started their families in less then 2 years employ.  Also, they acted like princesses complaining if they got shorted on their lunch time or had to work a weekend.

-Look at just the fees TO apply to vet school.  First is undergrad tuition.  Vet schools look down at community colleges, because they think the classes are easier.  So in order not to look lazy, you have to go to a (more expensive) 4 year university.  Then, you have to pay $200 and up for standardized tests.  That is not including expensive study books, tutors, or classes on HOW to excel on the standardized tests.  Some kids pay for someone to help them write their essays, or for someone to edit the essay.  Then, every vet school requires an application fee of $40 and up.  And all schools charge a transcript fee.  It all adds up quickly.

-After the straight-forward fees are more costly obligations.  In order to succeed, a veterinary candidate has to be well-big head horserounded.  As a pre-vet student and veterinary-hopeful, I heard “well rounded” over and over.  They want leadership, volunteerism, evidence of team-work, experience. . .  That experience also needs to be in a variety of fields.  It’s not good enough to have thousands of hours in small animal private practice settings.  The committee wants to make sure you also have large animal experience, research, exotic, and equine.  Proof of all this well-rounded business is on the application.  There is unlimited space for activities  in all the above-mentioned categories and more.

–>What are the financial implications of well-rounded?  Well, tell me how to be a full time student (earning the necessary 4.0 GPA, no less) getting the well-rounded ducks in a row, AND working enough hours to pay tuition, housing, car, and living expenses?  I suppose it can be done, but it’s not super-practical.

-Participation in sports and clubs requires money.  Money for dues, uniforms, club-dues, travel, on and on.

-Vet schools give MOST points to observation hours, then to volunteerism, rewarding employment with the least points.  This is because they figure an observer is actually standing next to the vet engaging in active learning, while the other positions are starting to do the obligatory cleaning tasks of the vet hospital, so they are actually learning LESS about the career.  So not only do you have to get well-rounded experiences in multiple areas–you have to do it without pay.

-All this well-rounded stuff means dedicating TIME to said activities.  And that’s time away from earning money and time away from studying.  Which of course the committee REQUIRES a super-high G.P.A. so they don’t get sued for accepting a subjectively good candidate over a quantitatively proven one.

-So being well rounded costs money and takes away ability to earn an income.  I never did figure out how to earn enough Green Bluff 019income to pay my tuition and rent and other expenses, while pursuing as much diverse experience as possible, and still have enough time left over to study for As in my difficult classes.  Not having to work because you had some sort of financial help would have given me an advantage.

-Another side effect of garnering a well-rounded background?  The applicant is unable to stick with anything for very long.  If veterinary admissions rewards people with the most diverse experiences, which dictates that these people can never establish a long relationship with any one sport/club/hospital.  And I saw it over and over at Noah’s Ark.  In their senior year of college, these kids would sign up for a gazillion clubs and put the minimal effort into those.  Just so they could write it on the application.  The flakiest students that came in to the vet hospital for only a few hours a week over one year did the best with their vet school applications.  People like me, that were dedicated to one or two clubs and worked hard at one place, missed those crucial diverse experiences points.  Is that the sort of vet you want?  Flaky and half-assing thing just to write it down?

-Then, IF the applicant is actually admitted into a veterinary program, tuition is impossibly high.  And school keeps vet students so busy that they could not possibly hold a job.  Not for more than maybe 2 months of the year anyway.  Probably not at all.  And definitely not enough to pay rent, food, or other expenses.  You would NEED someone to help with expenses, or at the VERY least co-sign for a big loan.

-Then, the career outlook is bleak because so many veterinarians are graduating.  So if a job is found at all, it certainly doesn’t PAY enough to pay off the inevitable school loans.  Maybe it’s a good thing I couldn’t afford to go to SGU. Just look at this blog post:

-70% of my veterinary income?! How terrible to fulfill my dream of becoming a vet only to have to be on food stamps. . .  Highest debt:income ratio.  So there you see how a poor or even regular person would have a VERY difficult time getting in and getting through vet school and then practicing vet medicine.  And why–it’s the spoiled, idealistic, rich girls completing the program these days.


6 Responses to “Veterinary Medicine is for Spoiled Rich Girls”

  1. Vet Student September 24, 2015 at 4:11 PM #

    As an older student currently attending vet school, I whole-heartedly agree that vet school is filled with spoiled rich kids. 1/3 of our student body is out of state. These are kids who are forking out close to $30K a semester JUST in tuition. Yet they’re rolling into the parking lot in Audi’s, BMW’s, and Infiniti’s. Their parents bought them a house in town so they wouldn’t have to rent, and they’ve got their horse stabled nearby. You can tell exactly who they when they’re in large animal labs wading through poop in $100 Muck brand boots.

    Many of these kids had tutors all they way through their school careers – for calculus, for physics, chemistry, etc. Their parents spent thousands on GRE classes to ensure they got the best scores, and spent even more sending them on fancy experiential trips in Africa and South America so they could beef up their applications with cool stuff. The reason they got in is because they had every possible opportunity handed to them on a silver platter, and when they get here they expect that to continue. They do things like email professors and demand that they be available to them on weekends and after hours. In many ways it does continue because, like I said earlier, these people are the ones who can and will pay $250K for a DVM degree. Once they give a seat to a person, the school stands to lose a lot of money if that person doesn’t complete the program.

    I’ve seen some incredibly bad behavior in my short time in vet school. Things a lot of people mistakenly assume would be weeded out at this level. Drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, cheating. You name it. I recently had to call a fellow student out during a group discussion of a professionalism scenario (about a student who left a bar with a faculty member, who then threatened to fail her if she didn’t grant him sexual favors). The young man, one of my classmates, asserted that the girl was the one in the wrong because she flirted with the faculty member and left the bar with him. You would think that, at this point, he would know that was completely wrong. Or at least have the common sense not to open his mouth if he thinks a woman who is sexually harassed is “asking for it”. But no…

    He also happens to be one of the out of state kids who went to private school, was a frat boy, parents paying for everything. Maybe I shouldn’t be making generalizations, but… if the shoe fits.

    Where is this going to lead for our industry? Most of these kids have never held a real job in their lives, and have never had to pay a bill. Let alone make a decision between paying their rent or electric bill and paying for emergency care for a family pet. How are they going to be compassionate towards a client who has to make those kinds of decisions? I worked in a vet clinic before going to vet school, and I saw this play out day after day in the clinic. Baby vets, fresh out of school, would have melt-downs because a client couldn’t afford to pay for treatment that they deemed “absolutely necessary”. They would be condescending and rude towards clients who didn’t elect to do everything possible for their pet, regardless of cost. They would have hissy fits and say things like “how am I supposed to do my job ???” when the clinic can’t afford the latest and greatest equipment that they had been weaned on at vet school. It never occurs to them that most people can’t afford CT scans and doppler ultrasounds for their family pets. Or that the person they just recommended those things to is rationing their own cardiac medications because they can’t afford them.

    It’s nothing new that certain professions are only within the reach of the most privileged in our society. Doctors and lawyers, traditionally. Now we can add veterinarian to that list. And all the societal and moral issues that come along with it.

    • kit10phish September 28, 2015 at 9:20 AM #

      It is refreshing to hear from someone CURRENTLY inside the system agree with my points here. I have gotten a lot of grief over this post, probably because the words “spoiled” and “rich” are subjective terms. But the post comes from my direct experiences. There is a definite shift in the face of veterinary medicine, from tough to entitled, and like it or not, it’s due much to the admissions process and it will have ramifications in the profession as a whole. I didn’t read your comment for 3 days (out of foreboding and dread) but I’m happy to see that someone else understands, firsthand, what I’m trying to say..

  2. Robot July 23, 2014 at 8:02 PM #

    So, what you’re saying is, the university system was broken by women going to school and we shouldn’t hate the system, we should hate other women. In one of the only STEM fields where women are the majority.

    The trend towards more people going into higher education, schools getting more selective (because they can), and the cost of tuition getting higher because of the demand is not localized to the veterinary track. The problem is more obvious because veterinary medicine has always had a high debt:income ratio. I would also note that, considering the debt ratio IS so high, these “spoiled rich girls” you’re talking about were probably not that rich. If every vet student had a free ride on their parents’ dime, the debt statistic would be about nil because very few students would be graduating with high amounts of debt. Maybe they played the game to be able to get in and get financing, but just because you have a moral or financial objection to playing the game and didn’t succeed in your goals doesn’t mean they’re not dedicated and it doesn’t justify hating women who did or blaming your financial problems and broader social issues on those women.

    I’m sorry things didn’t work out for you, but this isn’t the fault of other women even if they are rich. And you really can’t get through vet school if you’re a low achiever, regardless of how much money you have or how feminine you act or whether or not you want to have kids. The problem with the university system is much bigger and has a lot more to do with universities trying to turn a profit without anything to keep them in check, and employers demanding more advanced qualifications and forcing people (men and women) to seek out higher education, than it is about more women wanting to become veterinarians.

    • kit10phish July 31, 2014 at 3:56 PM #

      As annoyed as I am with the type of character I saw getting into vet school (over me) I squarely blame the vet school admissions committees. If my post doesn’t convey that, I will need to change the focus a little in the sequel post I plan to write. I consider myself a feminist, and it’s not women I hate–it’s spoiled, entitled, lazy, people (of either gender). And I have four examples of such people that were accepted, I can think of right off the bat, which I will maybe go into more detail about later.

      Also, my focus is more at the admissions level than within a veterinary program. I have heard vet school is DIFFICULT! I have also heard, once you’re IN the veterinary school really bends over backwards to get you to graduation–unlike medical schools that just excuse you if you perform at substandard levels. I think almost anyone can buckle down for a finite amount of time (4 years) even if they don’t like it, even if they are overwhelmed, possibly without changing their overall work ethic and entitled mentality. Hopefully, the experience makes them a more dedicated worker (not the case for 2 of the examples I reference above).

      Another problem is the game (I hate it, and didn’t play it–to my own detriment), but that “game-playing” does shape the profession. An oversaturated small animal private practice market, drives pay even lower. While food animal medicine is left short-handed. That people that make it through then revert to their entitled ways, not wanting to work the required strenuous level, amount of hours, or pay also compromises the field. And I have a problem with that, because the ENTIRE way through, people were telling me what a terrible, underpaid, job “veterinarian” is in reality–it’s not like you don’t hear about it before you apply. They tell you because they try to weed people out that don’t want to work, are in it for the money, or “love animals.” When people are accepted then don’t measure up to the high standard and expectation I think of it as stealing someone’s place in the class–if you complain, if you can’t hack it–there were 1,000 other people willing to take your spot.

      The Vet schools are shaping the field by skipping over dedicated workers, with supreme work ethic, and knowledge of what the work is like, in favor of people who find a way (Daddy, trust-fund, co-signer on a loan–see my Saint George posts for why this is so acrimonious to me) to PAY tuition and have a good quantitative standing–no matter the dearth of experience.

      I wanted to address your well-thought comment, but I do plan on writing a follow up post featuring more facts.

  3. melaniegobledvm July 23, 2014 at 2:51 PM #

    Well, having some of the qualifications you list (I am female and from a small town), I am by no means rich and never have been. I know a couple people that had other help them pay for vet school, but that certainly was not the majority at Wisconsin. My parents did help pay for undergrad, but I still worked 3 jobs during the school taking 18-21 credits per semester, then working in the summers and taking summer classes to finish in 4 years. I did not have a 4.0, but I did just fine. I did not have assistance or even buy the books for the GRE – I borrowed them from someone. I had $20,000 in loans from undergrad. There was no assistance from my parents during vet school. On top of my course work, I also maintained a part time job in the teaching hospital. Did my grades suffer? Yes. Do I think I am a better veterinarian because of that experience? Yes! Have I complained about missing lunch every day for 3 months? Yes, I have done that, but not every day. Have I complained about working a weekend shift? Yes, but usually because I had been working for 14 days straight including being on call, and I was exhausted. I finally switched jobs because being on call and working so much was affecting my health negatively. My goal? To own my own practice and see it succeed. Do I work with small animals instead of large animals? Yes, mainly because that is not where my passion exists. Do many of my female friends work in large animal? You better believe it! I don’t know how they keep up with their schedules, and I am in awe of them.

    I would agree that there has been a shift in veterinary medicine? Yes. Do I think the profession is being filled with spoiled, rich girls? No. The hell that is veterinary school would weed them out pretty quickly. Not to mention, at least a couple of the guys that I know did have family that was helping them – generally to move back home and help with the family veterinary clinic. But why is help for girl make her spoiled and less deserving? It may make things easier financially, but everyone is in the same boat once you are in class.

    Just my two cents (if only I could use them to pay back my loans!)

    • kit10phish July 31, 2014 at 3:35 PM #

      True–you may be an exception. Not all experiences are going to be alike, nor did I say this was the case in 100% of veterinary students.

      As for the GPA, even since your admission, times have changed and high GPA and GRE is essential–it is the very, very rare student that gets accepted without these.

      I will find some sort of data to back up my claims that higher economic standings do impact grades and standardized test scores in my sequel post.

      And I think we can both agree veterinary medicine has changed drastically– and the composition of veterinary classes have something to do with that.

      I wanted to quickly address your comment (as always thanks for sharing your opinions), but I do plan to write a sequel backing up my claims with quantitative data so it’s not so subjective.

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