4 Ways to Help Students Prepare for Careers in Veterinary Medicine

In English-speaking countries, it is extremely challenging to get accepted into a veterinary school that empowers its graduates to fulfill the legal requirements for practicing veterinary medicine. In the United States, the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) accredits only 30 colleges of veterinary medicine (CVMs); only about 3,000 American students graduate from their programs every year.

In Australia, there are only 7 such schools serving the entire Australian population of nearly 25 million people — plus all their livestock and pets. In Canada, the situation for aspiring veterinarians is even more competitive. There are only 5 veterinary schools serving the entire Canadian population of 36.95 million people.

The main takeaway: Considering the competitive nature of admission to veterinary school, any student who wants to become a veterinarian will benefit from beginning to prepare as soon as possible. High school is not too early to start focusing on veterinary school preparations.

If you’re the parent or teacher of a student who would make an excellent veterinarian, there are numerous things you can do to support your student in that career goal. As a starting point, consider the following list of 4 ways to help students prepare for careers in veterinary medicine:

1.   Encourage Your Student to Excel in the Sciences and Math

Sciences such as biology, microbiology and chemistry are important components of veterinary science. It is essential for your student to gain as much exposure to these foundational elements of the veterinarian’s knowledge base as soon as possible — and to do well in them. Math is also an important subject for an aspiring veterinarian to master.

2. Introduce Your Student to Helpful Educational Apps

Educational apps can help your student study math and the sciences in ways that are fun, memorable, intuitive and effective. Be sure to check out the Educational App Store’s pages on the topic of biology apps, chemistry apps, math apps and science apps. These pages offer recommendations and insights that will help you choose the best apps for empowering your student to enjoy studying the sciences.

There are also numerous educational apps for veterinarians that could potentially be helpful to an aspiring veterinary student.

3. Connect Your Student With a Relevant Part-Time Job, Internship, Program or Club

It’s becoming increasingly important for veterinary school candidates to have formal experience working with animals. If your student is able to gain relevant experience during high school, it can help with the college admissions process; then once your student is in college, s/he can build on that experience to improve his or her credentials even further.

If there are no relevant jobs available for high school students in your local area, there are other possible ways for your student to gain experience working with animals. You can encourage him or her to join a local 4-H club. 4-H offers animal programs that can teach your student how to care for various animals including horses, cattle, poultry, swine and others. While people think of 4-H as being a club for farm kids, children do not have to have a farm upbringing to participate.

There are also summer veterinary preparation programs available for high school students. One example of this is Cornell’s Veterinary Exploration Program, which offers high school students a chance to participate in laboratories and demonstrations as well as listening to interesting speakers on the topic of veterinary medicine.

4. Educate Your Student About Similar Alternative Careers

Since demand for veterinary school degrees far outpaces supply, it is quite possible that your student — even if s/he is an excellent candidate — may be denied admission. However, there are numerous worthwhile careers for animal lovers that might end up being just as fulfilling to your student as a veterinary career would be. Be sure to help your student understand the alternatives, especially if his or her academic track record is not stellar.

A career as a wildlife biologist or a zoologist might be equally satisfactory to your student. This occupation requires only a bachelor’s degree for finding entry-level work, although graduate-level education is helpful for advancement in this career.

Working as a veterinary technician, veterinary assistant or veterinary nurse is another possibility to consider. While these positions are not as coveted as veterinarian jobs are, they offer a couple of distinct advantages: It is possible to get started in one of these roles with far less of a monetary investment in education. There’s also a shorter time frame to graduation. In the USA, it is possible to become a veterinary technician with as little as a two-year associate’s degree.

In Australia, a certificate IV in veterinary nursing requires only two years to complete. It will give your student the training needed for working as a veterinary nurse; she/he’ll be qualified to care for all kinds of animals including mammals, birds, reptiles, invertebrates and amphibians.

Attending to these suggestions could increase the changes that your student will be able to enjoy a satisfying career working with animals. Here’s wishing your student much success with obtaining a spot in veterinary school and fulfil his or her dream of becoming a veterinarian.

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