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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov. 23, 2011
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    Default Need a career change... and talk to me of vet school

    I've been thinking about a career change for a while. I currently work in corporate finance, and despite the pay and benefits, absolutely am disinterested in my job. Its the kind of job that I go to bed just dreading getting up and going and doing the same thing for the same hours every day. I thought I could tough it out until I got to where I was in a better position, and now that I am there still have the same feelings.
    I've been trying to figure out where my interests really lie. I was a Psychology major through undergrad and had been planning to apply to graduate programs when life got in the way (met my now husband... completely my own choice not to pursue) and I became apathetic with career development. After 3 1/2 years post undergrad, a move and a marriage I have discovered that I am unfulfilled with only the career part of my life and need to fix this. I love research and would love to incorporate my interest in animals-specifically horses into a career path (I know...). I have thought about comparative studies MS or PhD, but worry about career opportunities outside of animal testing situations (not interested in this). Now, I have been considering going the DVM path and explore academic research from this perspective.
    The problem I am grappling with is this would be a difficult commitment for me to make even before applying to vet school. Due to my undergrad, I did not take the hardcore science classes like Chen, bio, physics etc. Now, as I am looking at requirements for entry into vet school I would be looking at at least 5 semesters to complete the requirements just to apply. Then after that of course would be the actual getting in! I don't have many hesitations that I wouldnt do well in the courses my (my undergrad GPA was 3.9), but its the what if factor. Couple this with a new marriage and thinking about starting a family this isn't a decision to be made lightly and I would like to get a few other perspectives. It would also be very helpful to hear about others who went vet school, faced similar issues etc.
    Also, I would like to get a perspective on what the career possibilities are within the veterinary community and specifically in research related fields. I have done research and it sounds rather bleak (as with seemingly a lot of the professional programs)
    BTW, I am 26, if that helps.



  2. #2
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    Jan. 18, 2009
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    26 is a fine age to go to vet school. I was 29 when I started. I was not the oldest in my class. I think being a little older and having life experience really helped my through the program.

    What kind of research are you interested in. The door is wide open for certain types...

    it's a tough and competitive path to do academic clinical research in veterinary medicine. It generally requires not only the DVM, but PhD and board certification these days.

    My path threw me in a direction I never would have imagined. DVM/PhD led to a career in human drug research and development. I would have laughed if you had told me this while I was in vet school. I wanted to be an academic studying equine exercise physiology. That is what I did for my graduate work and it was great....but reality set in as I graduated and those positions were far and few between... if you are lucky and get yourself in the right place at the right time, it can be great. but other opportunities came along and I have not regretted where I ended up (being a part of creating new life saving solutions for people does have rewards). And the money from the industry job has allowed me to pursue my own interests which led to me learning veterinary acupuncture and chiropractic. So now I get to do that too... Can't complain!
    Turn off the computer and go ride!


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  3. #3
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    Jan. 25, 2009
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    I could have written this myself about 12 years ago. I didn't end up going, and there are days I wish I had. however, I was in my 30s and already had 2 master's degrees and couldn't ultimately justify it. As it turned out, I became pregnant with DD and that really sealed the deal.
    A proud friend of bar.ka.



  4. #4
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    Mar. 4, 2010
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    Make sure you do a search of the COTH forums about vet school. I recall a couple of threads that had a lot of valuable advice in them. I won't repeat the advice but it is worth looking for the threads.

    Also, I would suggest contacting your local vet school or big commercial vet hospital (think Rood & Riddle) and talking to someone already doing work similar to what you would like to do. I have talked to a lot of these folks on an unrelated issue and I find research vets to be incredibly frank and helpful. And super nice people! I think they would probably be just as helpful on the career front.

    Good luck!


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  5. #5
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    Jun. 24, 2005
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    Alabama
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    There was a NY Times article recently about vet school graduates, and their huge loans, and poor beginning salaries. Also, because you want to start a family, then do you want to have a situation where you are on call on nights or weekends? I think vet school is something you are totally committed to, and not something you think you might like to do I'm not meaning to be critical, but it sounds like a ton of work and money for what might not be a great return through salary, and work life.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  6. #6
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    Dec. 12, 2010
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    I made a thread about wanting to go to vet school a few months ago. I would definitely do a search. There were a lot of very good thoughts and opinions.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/NBChoice http://nbchoice.blogspot.com/
    The New Banner's Choice- 1994 ASB Mare
    Dennis The Menace Too- 1999 ASB Gelding
    Dreamacres Sublime- 2008 ASB Gelding



  7. #7
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    Feb. 14, 2010
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    I'd stick with the solid job over the what-if, especially in this economy.
    Proud Member of the "I Don't Do Facebook" Clique


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  8. #8
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    Dec. 15, 2005
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    You might need a DVM/PhD or a DVM and a 3 year residency with board certification to get the credentials to be a researcher. All of the veterinary researchers I know have additional credentials beyond the DVM.

    Be sure you want this career path enough to put yourself through all of the requisite training. Don't quit your job until you figure it out!



  9. #9
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    Dec. 31, 2009
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    From what my vet has told me, vet school is your life. If you were all in and had no other check offs in your life (new marriage and starting a family) I would say go for it, but the grueling hours required, unless you're really tough, I'd pass. Ultimately it's up to you, sometimes you have to follow your dreams, for better or for worse. Good luck to you.
    I LOVE my Chickens!



  10. #10
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    Feb. 23, 2009
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    I got married after my first year of vet school and I really think the only reason my marriage survived was because DH was a horse person and he "got it" (he was also self employed, could travel for his work from wherever we wanted to base, and was gone for long stretches of time during the 3 remaining years of school- having him gone was terrible, but probably ultimately better for our marriage as I was hardly ever at home!). I knew several people that were pregnant/had children in school- definitely not something I'd recommend or could probably handle personally, but they managed it and all did well. They had supportive spouses/extended family to help with childcare and it worked for them because they knew the situation was temporary and would ultimately lead to them doing what they'd always wanted to do.

    If you are on the fence about vet school, especially with so many pre-requisites to fulfill, and you're interested in research, I'd suggest looking seriously into MS or PhD programs with an animal science focus. I don't know where you're located but many state schools have good Ag/animal science programs with tons of areas of research.

    That said, if you really are set on going to vet school, I think foggybok is right- your age is an asset (and trust me, you are far from old for a vet school student). I think the oldest person in my class was 44 at graduation, and I met a woman in her late 50s last year who was about to graduate from a school on the west coast. I think the admissions department sees it as an advantage because you have "real world" experience, and, as the decision to apply doesn't exactly come lightly, what with all the pre-recs you've had to go back and get, they know you are serious about wanting to "make it". While having to do all the pre-recs stinks, most (lab courses excluded) can be done online or at community colleges. I took a little time off after undergrad (was a Bio major but mostly environmental stuff, didn't have a lot of the courses I needed as I didn't consider vet school a real option until the end of my senior year) and fulfilled what I needed at a local small college and online. As long as you have a 4 year undergraduate degree, I don't think most schools care where you go back and get your pre-recs.

    If you are serious about the vet school route, I'm a recent graduate and would be happy to answer questions as best I'm able, if you have any. Good luck in whatever you decide to do!



  11. #11
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    Oct. 14, 2004
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    Lexington, KY
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    If your goal is research, I dont see why you wouldnt do an MS or PhD. Less time ( 2yr MS vs 4 yr PhD vs 4 DVM+ 3 yr residency) and financial commitment (think stipends etc) for the same goal.

    What do you mean by "animal testing research"? Really, most research involing animal models could categorize as this.

    I personally would think long and hard about leaving a stable career to go into veterinary and/or animal research. I tell my interns and students, unless you are 110% certain it is what you want, do not go to grad school.
    ************************
    "I can't help but wonder,what would Jimmy Buffett do?"


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  12. #12
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    Dec. 18, 2006
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    Be careful - run the numbers on cost of that education v. income and especially availability of jobs in your area of interest, in your area of the country.

    Vet school is the prime example we used in our career development class about being absolutely drowning in student loans for your entire career. My equine vet clinic says that most vets have $150K+ in student loans and the average starting salary is somewhere around...$50-60? depending on where you live? Even my small animal vet (very successful, by the way) told me she is not sure she'd do it again if she could....simply because of the incredible crushing debt.

    Look carefully at the specific parts of the job you find most interesting - and see exactly what credentials are needed and/or what similar jobs are out there. If you definitely want to be a vet, then of course you should consider pursuing that field...but if you are unsure....make sure first.


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  13. #13
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    Feb. 23, 2005
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    FWIW grants for research are hard come by and researchers who don't have grants sometimes get laid off.
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl's Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.



  14. #14
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    Dec. 4, 2005
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    I would not suggest academics, its getting hard to sustain funding.


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  15. #15
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    Nov. 2, 2006
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    Maine
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    I am happy with my career in veterinary medicine. I'd be hard pressed to do it again due to the current debt load associated with the career choice. 10 years ago, my classmates who went in to private practice were averaging starting salaries of around 55k with a debt load of 90-100k. 10 years later, salaries have not kept up with inflation (has anybody's) and it's more like 65k to start (if you're lucky--that's what I could get as an experienced associate in day practice these days) but with twice as much debt. One of my past technicians will graduate this year with $210k in debt. Just not sustainable. Sure, I'd love to have no student loan debt, but my monthly payment doesn't have a drastic impact on my life.


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  16. #16
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    Dec. 18, 2006
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    NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marshfield View Post
    I am happy with my career in veterinary medicine. I'd be hard pressed to do it again due to the current debt load associated with the career choice. 10 years ago, my classmates who went in to private practice were averaging starting salaries of around 55k with a debt load of 90-100k. 10 years later, salaries have not kept up with inflation (has anybody's) and it's more like 65k to start (if you're lucky--that's what I could get as an experienced associate in day practice these days) but with twice as much debt. One of my past technicians will graduate this year with $210k in debt. Just not sustainable. Sure, I'd love to have no student loan debt, but my monthly payment doesn't have a drastic impact on my life.
    Yes, that's what my vet said - once upon a time it was a sustainable career and now it is not. I think she mentioned there was an article about veterinary careers in the NYTimes or something...this very issue



  17. #17
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    Aug. 17, 2012
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    Could you use your existing skillset to find a job that's more interesting? Like accounting/bookkeeping for farms or something?



  18. #18
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    Feb. 27, 1999
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    Have you ever worked for a veterinarian? I realize that may be difficult if you have a full time job now, but that would be the first step you need to take to determine if vet school is right for you.

    In addition to your 5 semesters of undergrad classes, be aware that you will need approximately 2000 hours of time spent with veterinarians, across the discipline: at least large and small animal experience, but research experience or some other exposure that makes you stand out in front of an admissions committee is also helpful. Admissions are not a done deal, either. What will you do if you don't get in the first year? The second year? The third year? Is your husband willing to move to the Caribbean with you? (It's NOT the same as going on vacation!)

    Even if you want to eventually do research, you will have significant client interaction during your training. Dealing with people is the most difficult part of what we do. (If they could send Fluffy in with the credit card pinned to the collar, life would be great!)

    And to add the voices in the choir, I absolutely love what I do. My first 3 years of vet school were not fun, but I enjoyed my fourth year clinical rotations and I love my career. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recommend this field to others because of the disparity between income and debt load. If you're independently wealthy and can do your 5 semesters of undergrad and 4 years of vet school and emerge debt free, go for it. Otherwise, think long and hard about whether this is something you want to do. I encourage people who ask me about what I do to consider human health professions such as being a PA or a respiratory therapist. Those careers make as much money as many vets do, with a shorter educational time, and in many cases better benefits and hours/more flexible schedules.

    I'm happy to talk to the OP or anyone else who's interested in veterinary medicine if you want to PM me.



  19. #19
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    Jul. 31, 1999
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldernewbie View Post
    Make sure you do a search of the COTH forums about vet school. I recall a couple of threads that had a lot of valuable advice in them. I won't repeat the advice but it is worth looking for the threads.!
    Please make sure to also read the monthly threads on here about how vets are all trying to rip their clients off.

    I love being a vet (I'm in my first year of practice) but am fortunate that I did not graduate with nearly as much debt as most
    of my classmates. I think that makes an overwhelming difference. We will also have to see if I'm able to find an equine job after I finish up with my internship...


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  20. #20
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    Mar. 9, 2006
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    Veterinary jobs are at the beginning of crisis. When I graduated 15 years ago, we all had jobs by the January before graduation. Now it's not uncommon for more than ? of graduates to not have employment upon graduation. With this "glut" more are seeking the "non-traditional" jobs of research, etc.

    I would proceed with caution!
    From now on, ponyfixer, i'll include foot note references.


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