Is veterinary medicine for you? In other words, do you have what it takes to get into and through vet school? (Personal characteristics such as motivation and dedication not included in this list)
EDUCATION: Veterinary medicine requires a lot of education. Typically, the education path goes from high school to undergrad to veterinary medicine. That is 8 straight years of college for most vet students.
TIME: You have to be willing to find time to shadow and gain animal experience in addition to your every day life. I went to undergrad full time, worked on weekends and found time to shadow on school breaks. It does dig into your personal time so you have to be dedicated. The minimum amount of experience for most vet schools is 80 hours, but plenty of applicants have 2000 hours or more. Don't be intimidated, a lot of these people grew up with a family member who was a vet. Vet school itself is like a 60+ hour a week job due to classes, homework and studying.
MONEY AND/OR LOANS: The average veterinary student is now graduating from vet school with around $200,000 in debt, which is basically what eight years of college amounts to. (I will cover this in a later post in more detail.) The point here is that you can get through veterinary school on loans alone, but you must be prepared to start paying it off as soon as you get a job.
SUPPORT: Arguably, this is the most important aspect of your life when you are in vet school. You need to have a family and friends that understand that vet school isn't just school, it will become your life. I spend, on average, five to eight hours a day in class and five hours studying at night. It is definitely possible to have a social life, but don't make plans to see friends and go home every weekend. Make sure you surround yourself with people who understand that the four years in vet school will impact your success for the rest of your life.
I know there is a lot more to vet school that meets the eye, but I plan on going over as much as possible on this blog to help make it easier. The path to veterinary medicine is long and very difficult. Unfortunately, not everyone has what it takes to be a vet. The best thing to do is be prepared, know what is expected, and meet it head on knowing what you have to do.
Rule to live by: Always try and be prepared, it will make everything run a bit more smoothly.