A Student’s Guide to Gaining Pre-Vet Experience
This is a resource created by Augustana College’s Pre-Health Club to serve as a guide for gaining veterinary and animal experience in hopes of preparing a competitive application for a veterinary school that is full of diverse experiences. This guide was created by the club president at the time, Chloe Quin.
- If you are interested in exploring the pre-veterinary path more and have not had much veterinary experience yet, a great place to start is to reach out to clinics that are in your area.
- The key is to start small – ask to shadow for just a day. Perhaps use connections you may already have – do you or your family have a veterinarian that you take your own pets to? Could you reach out to them to ask them to shadow them for a day?
- First impressions matter! When looking for a clinic to allow you to shadow, call their clinic and explain that you are a pre-veterinary student hoping to get in touch with their clinic about setting up a shadowing experience for a day to learn more about the career. You could also show up in person with your resume.
- Make sure your resume is updated and meet with a Career Coach (Beth Ford) in CORE to look it over.
- Be prepared for rejections. Due to liability reasons and or staffing limitations, unfortunately, many clinics do turn shadowing opportunities down. Don’t let this discourage you and continue reaching out to clinics.
- Animal experience is an important part of your application as well. If you are having a hard time getting veterinary experience, starting off with getting animal experience can be helpful to make you a more valuable candidate for a vet clinic.
- In addition, many animal experience opportunities can turn into opportunities to get veterinary experience – maybe your supervisor has a connection with a vet and that could help you get your foot in the door.
Tips for Applying to Veterinary School and VMCAS:
- For transcript entry, request an OFFICIAL copy of your transcripts be sent to yourself so you have your courses exactly as they appear when you enter them.
- Check to make sure you meet the prerequisite course requirements for each school you are applying to. If you are unsure if something does not meet a requirement, reach out to the admissions email specific to the school to see. Generally, you need a C and above in each prerequisite course, with students generally having a 3.5 GPA and 3.6 GPA when applying.
- You can apply to veterinary school without having your bachelor’s degree completed as long as you have the necessary prerequisite courses completed/ in progress/ planned to be completed before the time that you would matriculate (generally the spring before). I decided to go this route to see where my application stood since I knew I had a diverse amount of experience. If I was not accepted, I would have finished my degree at Augustana and applied again.
- Know the strengths and weaknesses of your application and use this to build your school list. There are schools that place a heavy focus on grades, while others utilize a more holistic approach. Try to diversify your experiences (small animal, large animal, research, equine, etc.) as much as possible to be a well-rounded applicant.
- Community and extracurricular activities are an important part of your application as well! There are many great student groups at Augustana that allow you to get involved in leadership positions.
- List EVERYTHING! Did you pet sit while you were in high school? Include it! Did you shadow at a vet’s office only for a day? Include it! Include all of your accomplishments.
- Think about letters of recommendation. You generally need 3 letters total, with 1 being from a vet and another ideally being from a professor. Some schools have specific requirements for this, so be sure to check!
- Useful resources
- Student Doctor Network – has a ‘What are my chances?’ thread where students post their current application statistics and current vet students can give advice on where to improve your application.
- APVMA Facebook group – request to join! It is full of other pre-vet and vet students that can give advice, offers to read over your application essays, etc.
- VIN (Veterinary Information Network) – helps you determine what schools to add to your school list based on residency, cost, etc.
- Factors When Picking a Vet School Document – this amazing document lists the pros and cons of each vet school based on vet student feedback; it is also a great resource for building a school list!
- Vet Student Vet School Resource
Pre-vet Internship Opportunities :
- 2023 VRI Summer Internship Program
- Utah State University Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Science Undergraduate Research Internship Program https://caas.usu.edu/_dev/advs-2/internships/index
- Applications normally open in February and close early March
- Veterinary Scholars Summer Research Program
- Undergraduate Summer Research Program | College of Veterinary Medicine at MSU
Companion Animal (veterinary):
- Mission Vet Partners Pre Vet Work Break Application
- The Emergency Veterinary Care Centers offer a unique veterinary apprenticeship program at their various locations in the Midwest. You get trained as a veterinary assistant and move up different levels throughout the summer, with the chance to go back the following summers to improve your skills. It is a paid opportunity.
Equine (animal and veterinary) experience opportunities:
- Select Breeders Services – Employment
- Opportunities & Internships | Spy Coast Farm
- Equine Internship – Mandalay Farms | Jupiter, FL
- Peterson and Smith Equine Hospital undergraduate internship program in Florida Undergrad Internship Program | Peterson Smith
- Internships — Exotic Feline Rescue Center
- Wildlife and Exotic Animal Veterinary Internship Program
- Intern | The Wild Animal Sanctuary-TEXAS Internships
- Internships | National Tiger Sanctuary
- Student Programs & Internships – CROW (wildlife rehabilitation)
- Internships – Indianapolis Zoo (veterinary hospital and nutrition zoo internship)
Shadowing/ short term opportunities:
- MedVet’s Student Shadow Program
- USDA APHIS Vet Services Externship Program APHIS Careers – Internships, Fellowships and Externships
Semester/ Gap Year Programs:
- Equine Undergraduate Opportunities – Hagyard
- Veterinary Marine Mammal internship Dolphin Veterinary Internship in Key Largo
- Study Abroad Loop Abroad
- Volunteer Opportunities – World Vets – to improve the quality of life of animals, people & the environments in which they live by providing veterinary…
- Spay/neuter/wellness trips in reservations Rural Area Veterinary Services