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, veterinary 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-rounded. 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 income 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.