Article by Robin Van Auken on Volunteer Forever

Are you considering a career as a vet tech or veterinarian, and want to know if the field is right for you? If you like being with animals of all shapes, sizes, and breeds, and you want to help improve their lives and quality of care, then you’re on the right track.

A vet tech performs a variety of tasks, just like a nurse for humans, to support a veterinarian help care for patients. This career can be achieved with an associates degree in college, so it’s quicker, and there are part-time options that can fit into your school schedule.

The veterinarian is an animal medical doctor who completes doctoral degrees from accredited schools of veterinary medicine. This is a four-year commitment beyond your undergraduate degree, and admission is highly competitive. There are 28 accredited schools of veterinary medicine in the United States, and fewer than 50% of applicants are accepted. There are ways to increase your chances, however.

First, complete your undergraduate degree, and make sure you’ve included basic courses in animal physiology and anatomy, biology, zoology, animal science, chemistry, and microbiology. During your junior and senior years, make sure you’ve contacted the accredited veterinary schools to comply with academic admission requirements.

Another way you can gain entrance is to acquire practical, hands-on experience that will prepare you for certification in a veterinary specialty, including surgery and internal medicine. You can join a program overseas that puts you with a variety of animals, helping you get in tune with their unique healthcare needs. When you volunteer or intern abroad with animal care, your medical school application essay that discusses your ability to care for sick or diseased African Penguins, Vervet monkeys, or giant sea tortoises is impossible to ignore! Your letter of recommendation from a director of an international animal reserve in Africa or rehabilitation center in Costa Rica may go a lot further than your GPA.

Spending time learning how to help and heal exotic animals means you’ll bring that experience home with you, and your knowledge of penguins, parrots, tortoises, lizards, monkeys, and more becomes a valuable asset at veterinary school and when you graduate to private practice. You’ll be the exotic animal expert that other vets call upon when they don’t have the answer, or need to refer patients to a specialist.

From fins to fur, to feathers, if you’re interested in learning how to medically treat ill or injured animals, you can find a short volunteer placement or a longer internship opportunity that benefits others while boosting your educational and career prospects!


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