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any advice for a veterinarian hopeful?

A photo of ClaireHTC ClaireHTC
I've always had a passion for animals, particularly small animals and horses. It took me last year to figure out what career I wanted to pursue and now I'm trying to prep up for the obstacles ahead. I'm currently a gr.12 student and I have already applied to UBC and SFU. For my volunteer activities, I spend my weekends at a therapeutic stable. I just started at the SPCA too. As for livestock, where I live there are a few cattle farms, but I don't think they offer any kind of volunteer opportunities. I'm hoping to try out a job shadow at my local vet place, that is once I'm done with university and scholarship applications!

At the moment I'm contemplating whether or not I should apply to UofSask (it might be too far away from me). Which school do most pre-vet students apply to first? Can any current vet students lend me some helpful tips to prepare for the path ahead?
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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo
Your ECs should ideally match with the qualities vets should have (empathy, solid interpersonal and communication skills, sound morals, etc...), and they should, obviously, involve animals. I think volunteering at a therapeutic riding place is definitely a good experience, but you should also have more direct veterinary experience.

People tend to apply to universities that have veterinary schools, but there's no real advantage to doing so as far as admissions is concerned. In Ontario, for example, a lot of pre-vet students go to Guelph, which has OVC. The advantage of doing so is that you can meet lots of people in the same boat as you, possibly attend some of the veterinary school's events (and meet vet students and maybe even profs), and those schools also generally have lots of related research and clinics that you'd be able to jump into. For example, OVC has a large animal hospital, which I'm sure is always looking for student volunteers.

EDIT: My girlfriend, who is a third year vet student, volunteered at what I'm sure is a great place for vet-hopefuls: an animal rehabilitation centre. I'm not sure exactly what you'd be doing at the SPCA (if it's just caring for healthy animals up for adoption or whatever), but a rehab centre will be more medical-oriented and will have all sorts of animals, pets and wild.

Also, what is important is that you get these experiences as soon as possible, so it doesn't seem like vet school is just your plan B or C or D.
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A photo of inthemaking inthemaking
It sounds like you're off to a good start in terms of animal experience. Vet experience is more important though so make sure you get that as well, especially in the field of vet med you want to go into (ie. if you want to go into SA/equine, the bulk of your vet experience should be in that). It also helps if you have diverse vet experience so that they can see you've taken the time to explore the various aspects of the field (eg. SA, LA, food animal, zoo/wildlife, avian/exotics, equine, research, etc), but it's also not necessarily a dealbreaker. I got in with nothing but SA/exotics/avian vet experience. Never touched a cow/pig/sheep/goat prior to starting at OVC.

Unfortunately you may be limited to which vet schools you can apply to because of provincial residency requirements. What province do you live in? I'm assuming BC because of the schools you applied to for undergrad. That means you can only apply to U Sask (they reserve 20 spots for BC applicants each year) unless you establish residency in another province (which typically means you have to live for 12 months in that province without being in university). I only applied to OVC because I've always lived in Ontario and so that's the only province I'm a resident of. If I hadn't gotten into OVC, I would have reapplied to OVC again the following year and also applied to US/Australian schools as well. So if you want to be able to apply to more vet schools, I would actually suggest going to attend undergrad in another province just to widen your options. For example, I know a upper year who was born and raised in Calgary (so automatically a Calgary resident and eligible to apply to their vet school), but did her undergrad at an Ontario university while ensuring that she stayed in Ontario every summer (not in school - 3 summers x 4 months each = 12 months) to achieve Ontario residency as well. When she applied to vet school, she applied and got into both OVC and Calgary.

The actual school (that you attend for undergrad) itself doesn't matter, I personally went to McMaster University and loved my time there. A lot of Ontario pre-vets apply to Guelph because of its connection to OVC but I actually didn't even apply there (even though I knew I wanted to be a vet) because the school/city is so saturated with pre-vets that I knew it a) be difficult to find a position in the clinics there and b) I didn't want to be surrounded by pre-vets all the time. Also I just liked the city of Hamilton more than Guelph (it's very small town-ish). In the end it doesn't matter where you go for undergrad so long as you get all the prereqs.

If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me. I'm in my 1st year of OVC currently and I know how frustrating the road to vet school can be!
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A photo of ClaireHTC ClaireHTC

@mynameismattgotmlgo wrote

People tend to apply to universities that have veterinary schools, but there's no real advantage to doing so as far as admissions is concerned. In Ontario, for example, a lot of pre-vet students go to Guelph, which has OVC. The advantage of doing so is that you can meet lots of people in the same boat as you, possibly attend some of the veterinary school's events (and meet vet students and maybe even profs), and those schools also generally have lots of related research and clinics that you'd be able to jump into. For example, OVC has a large animal hospital, which I'm sure is always looking for student volunteers.

EDIT: My girlfriend, who is a third year vet student, volunteered at what I'm sure is a great place for vet-hopefuls: an animal rehabilitation centre. I'm not sure exactly what you'd be doing at the SPCA (if it's just caring for healthy animals up for adoption or whatever), but a rehab centre will be more medical-oriented and will have all sorts of animals, pets and wild.



Thanks for the advice Matt! I was contemplating about applying to universities that had vet schools. I heard from my teacher that if you were already a student at their school, say U of Saskatchewan, there was an advantage in terms of admissions when you apply to their vet schools. I live in BC but I don't think I have the finance needed to go to Guelph.

I'm currently in SPCA's dog companion/dog walker program where I walk, play and spend time with the dogs. Most of the dogs I handle are adoptable with minor issues so I think it's related to rehabilitation. I might have to check out other animal rehabilitation centers then. Are most of them open to HS or undergrad volunteers?
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A photo of ClaireHTC ClaireHTC

@inthemaking wrote
It sounds like you're off to a good start in terms of animal experience. Vet experience is more important though so make sure you get that as well, especially in the field of vet med you want to go into (ie. if you want to go into SA/equine, the bulk of your vet experience should be in that). It also helps if you have diverse vet experience so that they can see you've taken the time to explore the various aspects of the field (eg. SA, LA, food animal, zoo/wildlife, avian/exotics, equine, research, etc), but it's also not necessarily a dealbreaker. I got in with nothing but SA/exotics/avian vet experience. Never touched a cow/pig/sheep/goat prior to starting at OVC

Unfortunately you may be limited to which vet schools you can apply to because of provincial residency requirements. What province do you live in? I'm assuming BC because of the schools you applied to for undergrad. That means you can only apply to U Sask (they reserve 20 spots for BC applicants each year) unless you establish residency in another province (which typically means you have to live for 12 months in that province without being in university). I only applied to OVC because I've always lived in Ontario and so that's the only province I'm a resident of. If I hadn't gotten into OVC, I would have reapplied to OVC again the following year and also applied to US/Australian schools as well. So if you want to be able to apply to more vet schools, I would actually suggest going to attend undergrad in another province just to widen your options. For example, I know a upper year who was born and raised in Calgary (so automatically a Calgary resident and eligible to apply to their vet school), but did her undergrad at an Ontario university while ensuring that she stayed in Ontario every summer (not in school - 3 summers x 4 months each = 12 months) to achieve Ontario residency as well. When she applied to vet school, she applied and got into both OVC and Calgary.




Thank you so much for the advice. It's very exciting to talk to a vet student such as yourself! I want to get as much experience with all sorts of animals before I start uni. I have been volunteering at the therapeutic riding place for almost two years now, hopefully I can achieve that much success with other animal places. Realistically I don't think I can get every kind of animal experience. For some reason I feel like a lot of the exotic or LA volunteer opportunities are very hard to find.

I'm a BC resident so I've only applied to UBC and SFU. I do want to go to USask, but my family wants me to stay closer to home. They also think that it's going to be expensive going to school in another province. For my family, it's about being close to home and the finance. My plan is to apply into UBC and take all the pre-reqs before applying into WCVM. I'll PM you if I do have any more questions!
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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo

@ClaireHTC wrote
I heard from my teacher that if you were already a student at their school, say U of Saskatchewan, there was an advantage in terms of admissions when you apply to their vet schools.



That's not true. Professional schools are obligated to educate the cream of the crop, those who will become the best health care professionals in a province/region/Canada. Having a positive bias towards people who attended that same school in undergrad does not lead to a better population of veterinarians. However, like inthemaking talked about, there is a bias towards and even restriction to, in some cases, in-province students (that applies to pretty much all the health profession programs).


I'm currently in SPCA's dog companion/dog walker program where I walk, play and spend time with the dogs. Most of the dogs I handle are adoptable with minor issues so I think it's related to rehabilitation. I might have to check out other animal rehabilitation centers then. Are most of them open to HS or undergrad volunteers?



Yes, absolutely.
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A photo of inthemaking inthemaking

@ClaireHTC wrote

Thank you so much for the advice. It's very exciting to talk to a vet student such as yourself! I want to get as much experience with all sorts of animals before I start uni. I have been volunteering at the therapeutic riding place for almost two years now, hopefully I can achieve that much success with other animal places. Realistically I don't think I can get every kind of animal experience. For some reason I feel like a lot of the exotic or LA volunteer opportunities are very hard to find.

I'm a BC resident so I've only applied to UBC and SFU. I do want to go to USask, but my family wants me to stay closer to home. They also think that it's going to be expensive going to school in another province. For my family, it's about being close to home and the finance. My plan is to apply into UBC and take all the pre-reqs before applying into WCVM. I'll PM you if I do have any more questions!




Yeah zoo/wildlife/food animal opportunities are quite hard to obtain (depending on your location). Don't worry about it too much, so long as you have sufficient vet experience in your field(s) of interest and keep up your grades, you will have a decent shot. I thought my lack of diverse experience would prevent me from getting into OVC but they will take your entire application into consideration and they understand that not everyone has the opportunity to work with big cats in Africa.

Since you're already a BC resident, I don't think going to U Sask for undergrad would make much of a difference. U Sask sets aside 20 spots for BC and 20 for Sask applicants each year, so it doesn't increase your chances of getting into WCVM even if you move to Sask and establish residency there. I think what you're doing (staying in BC for undergrad to save up money) sounds like a good plan. Good luck!
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A photo of caveman caveman
Sorry to hijack a thread, but I'm just wondering (for my sister, I don't want to be a vet) how competitive vet schools are, specifically the OVC one at Guelph. Exactly how high of a GPA is needed, and how are marks weighted vs vet/animal experience and any other parts of the application process?

Also would having significant experience with only a particular type of animal (vast majority equine, but huge amounts, and small amount SA) be bad compared to decent amount of exposure to a wide range of varieties? Or would it be somewhat similar?

Thanks!
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A photo of inthemaking inthemaking

@caveman wrote
Sorry to hijack a thread, but I'm just wondering (for my sister, I don't want to be a vet) how competitive vet schools are, specifically the OVC one at Guelph. Exactly how high of a GPA is needed, and how are marks weighted vs vet/animal experience and any other parts of the application process?

Also would having significant experience with only a particular type of animal (vast majority equine, but huge amounts, and small amount SA) be bad compared to decent amount of exposure to a wide range of varieties? Or would it be somewhat similar?

Thanks!



OVC is pretty competitive mostly because they only take in ~100 Ontarians each year (and 15-20 international students). Only the top 200 applicants will receive an interview invite, the rest will be rejected based on their marks/MCAT right away. To receive an interview, they use a weighting system of 40:40:20 for prereq GPA: last 2 full time semesters' GPA: MCAT. So you can see that GPA is very important to obtaining an interview, typically the admitted applicants' average for both prereq and last 2 semesters' GPA is around 85-87%. I would say mid-high 80s would put your sister in a good position but obviously the higher the better.

Experience isn't looked at until applicants get to the interview stage. After the interview, applicants will be given an interview score, and their application/ref letters will be looked at; and from there another 100 students will be cut. There has been some talk that the application is also considered in the first stage (in ranking applicants for an interview), but OVC's official statement is that they only consider marks and MCAT score for the first round.

So long as the applicant has a good deal of experience in the field they want to go into (in the app there are 2 essay questions, one of which asks you which field you want to contribute to), then it's not necessarily bad. More diversity is preferred obviously but it's not a dealbreaker. 95% of my experience was in SA/exotics because that's what I want to go into. The only non-SA/exotics experience I had was 10 h at an aviary, 40 h horseback riding, and 20 h at a zoo; and none of those were considered vet experience (only animal). Just a disclaimer though: I had a low/average experience, but I applied with high marks so I think my grades helped my case. Experience basically compensates for marks, if the applicant has low/average marks, really good experience can make their app shine. Some of my peers got in with high 70s/low 80s but awesome/diverse experience and ref letters. But if the applicant has average experience and low/average marks, they probably will not be ranked in the top 200. Tell your sister to focus on school first, if her grades are already good, then focus on obtaining more experience.

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A photo of caveman caveman
Thank you very much for all of the great information inthemaking! I really appreciate it. This should give my sister a good idea of where to focus her efforts.
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