All Creatures Great and Small

One of the most exciting parts of veterinary medicine is getting to work with many different breeds and species of animals; it’s what separates veterinary medicine from human medicine. Whenever I tell someone that I’m starting vet school, they always ask about the program– the length, clinical rotations, internship and residency requirements–especially since this is LMU-CVM’s first class of students. In previous posts I’ve discussed the application process that I went through this past year to become part of the first class. Now, I want to talk about LMU-CVM’s program as well as the classes and experiences that I will be going through over the next four years. Read the rest of this entry

“Vetting” the Field, Part 2

In Part One, I talked about my experience in human clinical research. In addition, I got to work with several vets (in the capacity of shadowing, for the most part) so that I could get a realistic view of large and small animal work and the differences the two practices present. Some of my classmates had thousands of hours of veterinary experience from working in practices; I only had a few hundred, but I had the opportunity to hear the doctor’s reasoning about why they thought the animal had [X] disease and they were going to proceed with [Y] treatment because I was shadowing instead of working as an assistant. Admissions committees want to see that an applicant has put thought and gained real life experience in the field of veterinary medicine so s/he know what s/he is getting into down the road. Veterinary medicine is less glamorous than often portrayed! Read the rest of this entry

“Vetting” The Field, Part 1

My past two posts have been about gaining valuable animal experience for your veterinary school application (see It’s All About The Animals Part 1 and Part 2 if you haven’t read them!). Now, it’s time for veterinary experience! After talking to some other members of the LMU-CVM Inaugural Class of 2018, I realized how incredibly varied and unique each of our experiences are. Some people are licensed veterinary technicians that decided to return to school to further their education; others have worked in a vet clinic in different capacities (i.e. kennel technician, veterinary assistant, receptionist) since they were in high school. Then you have people like me that have lots of animal experience and a great GPA, but not as much veterinary experience. I took a somewhat unconventional route to gain much of my experience: an internship in clinical research (with humans). Prior to the current cycle, VMCAS included experience with any healthcare professional as “veterinary”, not just work done with or under the supervision of a veterinarian as in the 2015 cycle. I’m glad VMCAS clarified the definition this year because there was a lot of debate about whether an experience could be considered “veterinary” in the past. Read the rest of this entry

It’s All About The Animals, Part 2

Last time, I talked about my equine experience at Wind River Ranch. Now, I want to share about my time in the 4-H Horse Program. In More Than Puppy Love, I briefly discussed how 4-H got me interested in the scientific aspect of horses, but I learned so much more than equine anatomy and physiology over my nine years in 4-H.

First and foremost, 4-H taught me about caring for horses. In the Virginia 4-H Horse Project, all participants are required to declare their project horse in early May and qualify at district shows and clinics in May and June before they could show at the State Championship Show in September. If I had two horses and I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to show at State, then I could declare and qualify both horses and make the decision later in the summer, after I had more time to work each horse and see which one was more prepared. The qualification system also made sure that people weren’t just buying a horse a couple of weeks before State and bringing an unprepared horse to a large, hectic show. I had to care for my project horses by grooming them, making sure they got shod (hooves trimmed and shoes put on), devising a nutrition plan to keep them at an optimal weight, and cleaning the stalls so they stayed clean and healthy. A huge component of animal experience is simply becoming comfortable around different species; I know some people in my class that have almost exclusively small-animal experience, and thus they aren’t very comfortable around horses or other livestock. Gaining this comfort is not something that can be rushed, and one of the best ways to get comfortable is being around horses and grooming them. Read the rest of this entry

It’s All About The Animals, Part 1

As I’ve mentioned in past posts (see The End is Only the Beginning Part 1 and The”Perfect” Application”), animal experience is incredibly important in the veterinary application process. This experience allows for applicants to understand an owner’s perspective and to feel more at ease when working around different species. For instance, I have a lot of experience with horses and dogs, but not cats; other people in my class have a TON of dog and cat experience, but don’t feel comfortable around large animals. A lot of this variation is because of our future professional interests: I want to work with horses, while others want to focus on small animals, whether that be in shelter medicine or running a practice.

2012 Wind River Ranch Wranglers (photo: Jenna James)
My 2012 Wrangler Family
(photo: Jenna James)

I got my start in working with horses at the meek age of eight. My family and I were planning a vacation, and my dad goes, “Why don’t we go to Estes Park, Colorado?”. So my mom gets on the computer and starts Googling (keep in mind, this was in 2001 and Google wasn’t as huge as it is today) and finds Wind River Ranch, a Christian Family Guest Ranch, in Estes Park. We spent a wonderful, action-packed week out at “the ranch”, riding horses on trails and in the arena. I was hooked–my dad didn’t know what he had started! For my birthday later in the summer, I asked for horseback riding lessons. We were able to find a local stable that offered lessons, so my brother and I started lessons in October 2001. Over the next few summers, we headed back out to the ranch for more weeks of fun and riding adventures. Read the rest of this entry

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