Career as a Veterinarian

Advice and Resources for Veterinarians

No amount of research -- not even ValuePenguin research -- can make up for the human element.

With this in mind, we asked veterinarians -- from interns to veterans -- to relay their advice to students and professionals who are considering chasing a career in the field. It should also come as no surprise that their wisdom helped us shape the first four articles in this five-part series. In this final installment, we also share our favorite online resources and invite you to collaborate with us as we work to improve our guide. See how you can contribute below.

Advice for Aspiring Veterans

Of working professionals, ValuePenguin asked, "What would you tell someone who is considering joining your field?" Here are their answers.

Dr. Georgette Wilson Dr. Georgette Wilson Director of Scientific & Medical Affairs at the Hartz Mountain Corporation (Secaucus, N.J.)

My parents gave me the best advice when I was young, so I make sure I pass it on to others: Make sure you know what it’s like to be a vet by getting first-hand exposure. I volunteered at the ASPCA (which was less than two miles from my home) when I was 13. During the summer, I was allowed to help the veterinary staff. That experience solidified my desire to become a veterinarian.

When someone tells me that he/she wants to become a veterinarian because of a love of animals, my next question is always, “Do you love science and medicine”?  Surprisingly, a lot of kids haven’t even considered that aspect; there are even some who can’t stand the sight of blood. I ask this question because during my first year of vet school, out of a class of 80 students, four classmates never returned to school after Thanksgiving break, and one or two more didn’t return after Christmas. It was clear no one had ever asked them that question, making it heartbreaking that they spent so many years preparing for a career that didn’t suit them, and all the while they took the place of another person who should have been in their place.

Hailey Turner Hailey Turner Veterinary Intern at WestVet (Garden City, Id.) Make sure it’s your passion and something you are ready to dedicate your life to -- not something you would consider a “job” but rather something that is your calling because it requires you to make a lot of sacrifices and time to get here.
Dr. Carol Osborne Dr. Carol Osborne Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic (Chagrin Falls, Ohio)  My advice would be similar to anyone pursuing a professional degree, whether it's law, theater or veterinary medicine. Be sure the field you are about to pursue is truly a good fit. Do your homework and avoid making impulsive decisions, especially when your future is at stake. For example, consider volunteering at a local shelter and a veterinary office. Literally immerse yourself in the field to be sure you love it and are ready, able and willing to make the commitment.
Theresa Entriken Dr. Theresa Entriken Medical Director, UBM Americas (Lenexa, Kan.) Explore courses before, during and after veterinary school that boost your small business management, communications, public relations, leadership and personal finance (thoroughly evaluate the veterinarians’ debt-to-income ratio) skills. Investigate animal welfare topics as well as learn how animal, human and environmental health are connected.
Samantha Loeber Samantha Loeber Veterinary Intern at WestVet (Garden City, Id.) Veterinary medicine is an exciting and incredibly rewarding career. Those interested in becoming a veterinarian should do their research on what the job entails on a daily basis. I highly recommend spending time in veterinary hospitals to make sure the career will be a good fit for you. A very important tip: No veterinarian pursued this career for the paycheck! If you are looking for a high-salary career, veterinary medicine may not be for you. Also, veterinary education is very expensive. Student debt is remarkably high and climbing every year, so it is important to consider this while planning your financial future.
Patrick Mahaney Dr. Patrick Mahaney Holistic Housecall Veterinarian (Los Angeles, Calif.) Liking animals isn’t enough to become a veterinarian. You have to be willing to sacrifice plentiful time to excel in school, work in veterinary hospitals to gain experience, and take on significant educational debt that can take decades to pay off. Even with all of that, you’ll find yourself making a fraction of the annual salary of a human doctor, working long hours, sometimes having a thankless job, and generally working with clients that may not be able to afford your recommendations to provide the best medical care. If you make smart choices about electing to practice in an area where clients are affluent and keep your educational and personal debt minimized your professional life may become that which you desire at an acceptable level of happiness.
Jen Schori Dr. Jennifer L. Schori Director of Integrative Content, Brief Media (Tulsa, OK)

Do your due diligence.  Talk to veterinarians (those in practice and those in alternative careers such as research or public health); most veterinarians welcome the opportunity to share their stories and would love to provide whatever guidance they can.  Volunteer your time at a clinic or shelter where you can gain experience working with animals and the people who work with them. Research veterinary clinical careers and alternative career paths. 

Know also that being a veterinarian is not just about the animals. In clinical practice, those pets come with an owner on the other end of the leash. Empathy for the pet owners and an ability to communicate effectively with them is critical to successful patient management and a fulfilling career. If you don’t like people, a job in clinical practice would not be for you. However, there are other veterinary career options that might be perfect.

Online Resources for Veterinarians

In the course of researching our guide, these were the best online resources we found for aspiring and current veterinarians.

Events Calendar

Stay up to date on the happenings in the psychiatry world. Don't see your event? Let us know.

Annual Events

  • AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference (January)
  • World Veterinary Day (Last Saturday in April)
  • National Pet Week® (May)
  • AVMA Convention (August)
  • National Veterinary Technician Week (October)

Your Turn

Staying up to date on your profession is an important task when looking for a job. And while ValuePenguin is your definitive source for everything veterinarians-related, even we can't stay current on every news happening within the world. Here is our own curated Twitter feed.

Let us know how else we can be of assistance by using the #VeterinaryQA hashtag on Twitter. If we don't know the answer to your question, we'll ask one of our experts.

Are You Already... ?

Are you a future vet? Let us know how else we can be of assistance by emailing us. If we don't know the answer to your question, we'll ask one of our experts.

Are you already a vet? Let us know what we missed by taking our survey and share your career experience with your peers.

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