I’ve come across many people over the years who said they used to want to be a veterinarian or something along those lines. As I head into my second year of vet school, I can say that I still want to be a vet! Everyone has their reasons for doing something, so rather than expound heavily upon the “why” of becoming a vet, I’ll speak more to my experience with the “how” of getting into vet school, although your personal “why” is ultimately what will get you through.
The first piece of advice I would share is to get at least an idea of what the veterinary field is like. I might have pursued becoming a vet sooner if I had gone and volunteered at a vet clinic earlier in life. There’s more diversity than I originally realized in the different types of vets out there. When beginning your career, find a type of vet who does the type of work you think you’d like to do and see if you can volunteer or job shadow. Doing so can help give you an idea of what the work is actually like and if it’s for you. Plus, many vet schools require multiple reference letters from people related to the veterinary field, so getting to know these people is a must! It may also require more than a single experience to get an idea of how you handle things. I remember getting a bit lightheaded while I watched my first couple of surgeries, but I got used to it in subsequent experiences.
Once you’ve decided that being a vet is something you think you’ll enjoy doing, it’s going to take some work to get there. If you live in Alberta, then UCVM is likely your main choice for schooling. WCVM (Saskatoon) no longer accepts Alberta students due to a change in funding. However, UCVM is getting additional seats added to where they’ll now accept around 50 students per year, where it used to be around 30. Schools in the US may also be an option. Though from what I understand it can be a bit more costly, though admittedly I have no personal experience applying there. Requirements will vary for getting into different vet programs. Generally, there are several pre-requisite post-secondary courses that must be completed to be able to apply. Check each school’s website for the most up-to-date information. In a nutshell, you have to go to school so that you can go to more school (I warned you there was school work)! Schools tend to look at your GPA in these courses along with the other courses you take on a competitive basis, so it’s important to do your best! With that being said, schools will look more closely to your more recent history. If you had a rough first year in post-secondary, there is still hope! Most schools publish stats on what applicants for previous years had, so that can give you a ballpark of where to aim. In addition to schooling, there are application deadlines and previously mentioned reference letters to fulfill. Fees associated with applying must also be paid.
So the day has come, you’ve sent in your application, and you’ve gotten invited for an interview! When I went through, there were two main components for interview day at UCVM: a multiple-mini interview (MMI) and an essay. There are example practice questions on the website, and I would recommend practice timing yourself going through questions with a partner to get used to what they are like. There are no true “correct” answers to these questions, so getting used to thinking out loud and coming to a decision is helpful. Communication skills and familiarity with the veterinary field are both useful. Once you’ve gone through your interview, you play the waiting game. It’s good to have a backup plan in case you don’t get in right away. I have several classmates who were interviewed multiple times before getting in, so sometimes patience and perseverance are what you need to get through!
Once you’re in vet school, you still have more schoolwork to do than you probably anticipated, but at least now you’re closer to fulfilling your goal! If you end up being able to pursue a career doing something you’re passionate about, it should be worth it in the end!
If you have any questions about becoming a veterinarian, give us a call at 403.948.2733.
Written by: Kyle West, UCVM Class of 2022