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.

Veterinary Experience:

  • 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:

  • 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 :

Research Opportunities:

Companion Animal (veterinary):

Equine (animal and veterinary) experience opportunities:

Animal internships:

Shadowing/ short term opportunities:

Semester/ Gap Year Programs:

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