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Can someone talk to me about going into Veterinary Medicine?

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  • Can someone talk to me about going into Veterinary Medicine?

    I wasn't sure where to post this, and sorry if Its already been talked about...

    I've been struggling with what I want to do with my life and I keep coming back to being a vet.
    Small animal - and I want to specialize in Exotics (aside from horses, I'm a big reptile fan. But I love Cats and Dogs too!!)
    Its hard to find a good vet around that knows a lot about reptiles and other exotics. (at least in my area)

    A lot of people are discouraging me from going to vet school because of how expensive schooling is.
    The last vet I talked to told me that people are going to be paying off their student loans for 30 years!
    And everyone keeps saying "why be an animal doctor when you can go to school the same amount and be a human doctor"


    But, I have an SO who is starting out into a good career (and all his student loans paid off!) where he will average around $80,000 in a few years when he gains more experience. I don't think I will struggle to live when I have someone supporting me...

    I guess, I'm just looking for someone to tell me that its not a waste of time, or money to go into this career.

    I really want to hear some opinions of people going into vet school or who are currently vets, or know vets.
    I'm not too worried about how hard the schooling will be, But I would like to know if some people think its really hard.
    Eventers of the West
    A Facebook group I created for Eventers in the West Region of the U.S.
    Remy - My OTTB Gelding! Love him to pieces!

  • #2
    I am a vet tech and I have two good friends and a sister in law that are vets...besides working with many. Student loans tend to be closer to the $100k mark, higher if you go into a specialty. (Think around $1400 a month in loans.) Starting small animal vets in this area start around $55k a year, give or take. Most people I know like their jobs, although always complain about loans and money. Specialists tend to eventually make a lot more money and don't complain...lol.

    School is hard, but doable. I have known vet students who complete school while married, with children, pregnant, etc.

    Comment


    • #3
      If you don't want it more than anything else in the world, don't do it.
      If you can't imagine being anything else, go for it.

      Don't go into it thinking you're going to make money.
      "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

      ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree with Ghazzu. Don't do it unless its all you can see yourself doing. I wish my loans were only 100k. Granted I do go to Ross University which is private and a bit more pricey, but if you go out of state its actually fairly similar tuition wise. The cost of things are a bit more pricey down here which makes my loan debt a bit larger. I don't know the total off the top of my head, but I know its close to $200K at this point. By the time I graduate, they will be well over that. O and I have no undergrad loans. (Thanks Mom!)

        Vet school isn't easy. I am one of the lucky ones who seems to do well so far and have maintained a 4.0, but I doubt I will graduate with one. I have had friends fail out, quit, etc. Its not an easy path and while Ross is easier to get in to, I have heard its harder to get out of than state school. We have a fairly high fail out rate. I truthfully am not sure how it compares to state schools. The one plus is that we get lots of hands on experience here before getting into clinics which I love.

        I never even applied to state school. I knew my grades weren't up to par, so I didn't want to waste money applying or going back and retaking some prereqs. So, I applied to Ross and thankfully got in. If I hadn't then I would of gone back and retaken prereqs and applied in the states. I had a little too much fun in undergrad and lost motivation for school and decided that I no longer wanted to be a vet. Well after 5 years out in the real world, I realized that I wanted to be in the veterinarian field and was looking into going to tech school, but my current vet convinced me to go to vet school. I was afraid I would never get in because of my grades, but he told me to apply to Ross and see what happened. Thankfully they took a chance on me.

        Truthfully before I went to vet school, I never knew one could study so much. I am talking about hours upon hours. Studying for only 2 hours a day feels like a break to me. I usually try and study 4/5 hours a day and thats on top of being in class for 4/5 hours. On the weekend, well this semester at least, all I have done is studied. I truthfully don't even study close to the hours that some of my friends do.

        Its mentally tough and some people can't take the stress. This semester was rough we had 12 test, 7 quizzes, and a group project all in 14 weeks and then we have 7 finals. Took the 3rd of my 7 today! 4 more next week and we just finished learning new material for the finals today. Next semester my schedule is a bit better and I may be able to have some life outside of school.

        Truthfully with all that said, I absolutely love it! Every class is awesome in its own way and its amazing how much you learn in such a short amount of time. I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life right now. Whenever I get bogged down by studying, I remember that in 2 years from now I will have my DVM and it will all of been worth it.

        So if studying long hours, working hard, and at times wanting to just go crazy sounds like fun then go for it! At the end of the day, I think being a vet will be very rewarding and I realize that I am not going to make any money. I am doing it to help animals because I love them.

        Now, to get back to studying for finals, and yay for having a 100.5 fever and not being able to take a break.
        I love cats, I love every single cat....
        So anyway I am a cat lover
        And I love to run.

        Comment


        • #5
          Wonderful insight Beethoven! I have heard the same about Ross, easy to get into, but very high fail out rate. How much longer do you have to go?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Beckham03 View Post
            Wonderful insight Beethoven! I have heard the same about Ross, easy to get into, but very high fail out rate. How much longer do you have to go?
            I have 1 more year on the island than I headed back to the states to do my clinical year at 1 of the vet schools in the states.
            I love cats, I love every single cat....
            So anyway I am a cat lover
            And I love to run.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Well I do really want to be a vet but I don't want to go into ANY career where I wont be making money. Especially a career that I have to devote 8 years of nothing but schooling and studying. The only way is if I could find scholarships to get in, but I'm sure thats extremely difficult.

              Thanks for the advice.
              if vet school really is that expensive and I wont make any money, I definitely don't want to do it.
              Eventers of the West
              A Facebook group I created for Eventers in the West Region of the U.S.
              Remy - My OTTB Gelding! Love him to pieces!

              Comment


              • #8
                Don't go into vet medicine b/c you love animals, go into it b/c you love medicine. There are lots of careers where you can simply enjoy animals, to be a vet you have to be interested in the medicine and putting animals to sleep, seeing animals suffer in pain, help people through their pain, clean up messes, go without sleep, be misunderstood and for a large part of your career go without much money.

                I started out heading toward a vet career and realized that I didn't want to be a career person-I wanted a family and more discretionary time. I also worked at vet clinics as a tech enough to realize I didn't like being part of putting animals down and getting injured in the line of duty. The medicine aspect of it is fascinating to me but the "in the trenches" work didn't click for me and I didn't carry nearly the responsibility that the vets did.

                My vet friends are all broke, from the age of 65 to 25, the only highly successful vet I know is an ortho specialist that is very profit driven.
                “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by KateMcCall View Post
                  Well I do really want to be a vet but I don't want to go into ANY career where I wont be making money. Especially a career that I have to devote 8 years of nothing but schooling and studying. The only way is if I could find scholarships to get in, but I'm sure thats extremely difficult.

                  Thanks for the advice.
                  if vet school really is that expensive and I wont make any money, I definitely don't want to do it.
                  Go read this blog and see what you think - she's louder & more cynical than most vets, but she's not entirely wrong with a lot of her points - http://vetsbehavingbadly.blogspot.com/

                  I have a partial scholarship for vet school (about 25% discount on tuition) and it barely makes a dent in the amount I will be paying over 4 years. You can get your tuition paid for if you go for a DVM/PhD combined program, but it's insane. I've been debating about applying because I love the welfare research I'm doing, but I don't know if I can handle being a poor student for 8 years.

                  Definitely do your research into in-state vs. out-of-state costs. i.e. In-state tuition somewhere like Auburn is going to be a lot (A LOT) less than out-of-state tuition somewhere like Ohio (although you become a resident your second year in Ohio).

                  You will not be rich unless you go into phamaceuticals or big industry. You will make a liveable wage as long as you are flexible in what area you want to go into.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Beethoven View Post
                    Truthfully before I went to vet school, I never knew one could study so much. I am talking about hours upon hours. Studying for only 2 hours a day feels like a break to me. I usually try and study 4/5 hours a day and thats on top of being in class for 4/5 hours. On the weekend, well this semester at least, all I have done is studied. I truthfully don't even study close to the hours that some of my friends do. Its mentally tough and some people can't take the stress.
                    Ain't that the truth! I barely studied in undergrad (compared to now!) and didn't believe the current students as to how much you have to study. We have class from 9-12 & 1-5 or 6:30 every weekday. Then you walk home and study. I study while I eat. I study while I workout. I study while I commute. Sometimes I even study while I walk my dog.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Double post. Sorry!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        OP, have you worked or shadowed in a clinic before? If not, I would try to make arrangements to at least shadow in a few different clinics before you make a decision.

                        If you do go to vet school, it is unlikely that you'll be in your very own practice right off the bat so seeing what working in a clinic for someone else is like (preferably seeing multiple situations) is wise.

                        I worked in a great clinic for nearly 10 years. Then pursued a different career. I'm now back in veterinary medicine. If I had been in my current practice as my first experience, I would've never wanted to go into that line of work. Ever.

                        So check it out. See what you think if you haven't already. It's not all James Herriot out there.
                        A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                        Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I agree with shadowing at a clinic or two to see what goes on. I work in a radiology department and some weeks I feel like I get the crap beat out of me. Giant dogs, painful, fearful animals...I get bit, scratched, knocked around. I do love my job. I don't make squat for money though. And even though I see some of the worst things (ER/Specialty clinic) I like to think that we help...someone needs to be available to deal with these types of things. It can be very depressing...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by KateMcCall View Post
                            Well I do really want to be a vet but I don't want to go into ANY career where I wont be making money. Especially a career that I have to devote 8 years of nothing but schooling and studying. The only way is if I could find scholarships to get in, but I'm sure thats extremely difficult.

                            Thanks for the advice.
                            if vet school really is that expensive and I wont make any money, I definitely don't want to do it.
                            I haven't heard of any scholarships you can get going into vet school (but who knows, there may be some if you look hard enough). There are a fair amount available after you've gotten in, but they are small change compared to the amount of debt you will have. I have gotten several, and I have just used them and taken out slightly less GradPlus loans for living expenses.

                            I was under the impression when I started vet school that there was a need for equine and large animal vets, and over the last 3 years (I will graduate next May), that has completely changed. The job market is crap, salaries are crap, and I will graduate (from a school I am out of state at) with nearly a quarter of a million dollars in debt.

                            You will NOT make money being a vet. I believe the average salary is in the mid $60,000s as of now. I'm not sure what small animal/exotics vets usually do their first year out, but with equine you pretty much have to do an internship year unless you have some "in" at a clinic where you know the owner. At an internship you'll make average of $26,000 a year - a salary that with the upcoming minimum wage changes will be less than minimum wage working 40 hours a week. Considering interns work closer to 60-70 hours a week, you end up making $6-$8 an hour your first year out of school.

                            You have to go to vet school because you really, really, really want to do it. I love going to different farms, meeting different clients and caring for different horses. I love seeing the foals of mares I helped get pregnant. I love seeing those foals grow up! I love old ponies and old horses and show horses and race horses and trail horses. I love hearing clients' stories about where their horse came from and how it did in its last race or show. I love learning about the newest treatments, surgeries and things we, as vets, can do the improve the quality of life for our patients and owners.

                            I can't imagine another career that would make me happier, but I am now regretting my decision. I was not well-informed about the financial aspect of debt load and future salary going in, and I am terrified now, with a year left, what my future is going to be like. I was not imagining living paycheck to paycheck. I simply wanted a career I would enjoy, and I only want to make enough money to live comfortably and enjoy my personal horses. Now, I am realizing that financially I will most likely be unable to do this. I can work longer hours to make more money, but to what end? To make enough money to support a horse that I won't be able to see at the end of the day?

                            OP, think long and hard about this. Go talk to different vets. I think the job market for exotics-specific vets is EXTREMELY limited. You may be able to get by doing small animals and taking exotic clients, but you still won't make much money, and you'll still have a crapload of debt.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Double post.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                If you dont want to be a vet, but want to get into a career with animals dont overlook being a technian. Here, a specialized board certifed technician makes about the same as a general practitoner vet. Its not easy to get boarded, but its certainly achievable on a minimal and working budget. For example, the boarded anesthesia technician makes $30-40 per hour ($65,000-80,000 per year) depending on years experence. General regstered technicans only make around $15-20 dependng on location.

                                Often you can get through a two year tech program on correspondence or college on a minmal budget. Board certfcation is very cheap. You wont have many debts coming out, compared to vet school.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by SquishTheBunny View Post
                                  If you dont want to be a vet, but want to get into a career with animals dont overlook being a technian. Here, a specialized board certifed technician makes about the same as a general practitoner vet. Its not easy to get boarded, but its certainly achievable on a minimal and working budget. For example, the boarded anesthesia technician makes $30-40 per hour ($65,000-80,000 per year) depending on years experence. General regstered technicans only make around $15-20 dependng on location.

                                  Often you can get through a two year tech program on correspondence or college on a minmal budget. Board certfcation is very cheap. You wont have many debts coming out, compared to vet school.
                                  I would just recommend that if you do the correspondence that you have a few volunteer or shadow opportunities lined up first.

                                  There are two gals at my current clinic who will graduate from tech school and get licensed most likely who still can't put in a catheter, have not had much (no) experience looking at labs and making assessments, etc because their "mentor" is the clinic owner and while he'll sign off on their assignments, they get little to no hands on experience.

                                  I have shown them more/explained more in my 2 mos at a new clinic than they've gotten in 2 years from their mentor. I'm not licensed. I just have experience.

                                  Every clinic is different.
                                  A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                  Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Oh I agree 100% BuddyRoo - however, the only way you can get boarded is first to be licenced. You also need "x" hours in a specific area and x number of case studies before you are accepted to write boards. Hard to achieve...but if money and animal career is important this is one way to get it. Its sad that regular technicians dont get paid nearly enough.

                                    Even at "tech school" its scary who graduates from there and what minimal skills some have. Heck, I graduated with never anesethizing a patient at school. I had a great co-op, and volunteer experience before school. Actually, the one who trained me as a regular licenced technician wasnt even licenced herself - just years and years experience at a great practice.

                                    But, there is also a difference between regular technicians and boarded ones who place chest tubes, renal dialysis catheters, arterial lines, epidurals, brachial plexus blocks, monitor patients on life support ventilators, run MRI's, CT's, Fluroscopes, etc. Its all about the experiences you get and what you choose to do with it

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      NOted that those are Canadian rates-I was never paid more than $8.75 an hour as a tech...about 5 years ago. not certified but neither were my bosses looking for certified. It was more of a cherry picking job-if the vet liked you, you would stay on.
                                      “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Lauren12 View Post
                                        I can't imagine another career that would make me happier, but I am now regretting my decision. I was not well-informed about the financial aspect of debt load and future salary going in, and I am terrified now, with a year left, what my future is going to be like. I was not imagining living paycheck to paycheck. I simply wanted a career I would enjoy, and I only want to make enough money to live comfortably and enjoy my personal horses. Now, I am realizing that financially I will most likely be unable to do this. I can work longer hours to make more money, but to what end? To make enough money to support a horse that I won't be able to see at the end of the day?
                                        If it's any consolation, lots of lawyers could have written this paragraph, just about word-for-word.

                                        OP, we are at that point in our economy where a graduate/professional degree is not an obvious ticket to the upper-middle class. The debt incurred makes that true because it is so much that people spend a decade or more doing what they don't want to do and living low on the hog to repay that debt. Be sure, then, to think of graduate school in terms of cost/benefit. If the goal is to have a good life, choosing 10 years of debt after professional school might not be it.
                                        The armchair saddler
                                        Politically Pro-Cat

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