As part of ValuePenguin's Future of Veterinary Care series, we will be interviewing students across the nation's pre-veterinary and veterinary programs to learn more about their experiences and paths towards becoming certified veterinarians.
Rebecca McBride, is a senior Animal Science Major at University of Vermont with a current interest in internal medicine and cardiology. She is president of UVM's Pre-Vet Club, and will be attending Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine this fall.
What influenced you to pursue a pre-vet or vet program?
When I was seven my parents underwent a brutal divorce. At times, things were difficult and we struggled to make ends meet. Unlike most of my classmates who participated in sports after school, I came home to help my family. My family situation was not ideal, but it made me stronger. I worked hard in school. By junior year I was taking all AP and college level courses. However, I still felt like I was missing that passion that all of my friends had from sports or other activities. That's when I started volunteering at a veterinary clinic and there the passion blossomed. Ever since, I have wanted nothing more than a career in veterinary medicine.
Why should other students consider a focus in Veterinary Medicine?
I think veterinary medicine is one of the most rewarding career professions available. Students should consider veterinary medicine if they love helping people and they love medicine. Most people think that veterinary medicine is a career focused on animals. While it is, it is by far greater a career focused on people. Students should also consider a career in veterinary medicine because there are so many opportunities with a veterinary medical degree. Not only can you work with a variety of species, but you can also work for the government, conduct research, teach, and more. The opportunities are endless and while the process is extremely competitive, it is worth it in the end.
What has been your experience with Pre-Vet medicine at your college?
The Animal Science Department at the University of Vermont is phenomenal. The faculty is extremely involved in advising you towards becoming a competitive applicant. There are also a variety of classes students can take that help them prepare for subjects they will cover in veterinary medical school, such as comparative anatomy and physiology, clinical topics in small animal medicine, zoos and exotics, clinical topics in livestock medicine, CREAM, lactation physiology, endocrinology, parasitology, lameness in horses, EQUUS, animal nutrition, reproduction physiology, and more.
There is also the Pre-Vet Club, which provides information about applying to veterinary medical school and encourages students to participate in internships that will allow them to get essential veterinary experience. The club also offers case studies, wet labs such as suturing, tours of veterinary clinics, trips to veterinary medical schools, and a myriad of other essential hands on experiences.
What are the latest developments or trends in veterinary medicine?
The veterinary profession is moving towards the One Health Initiative. The One Health Initiative links veterinary medicine with human medicine and environmental health. 70% of emerging diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be spread interchangeably between humans and animals. For this reason, it is essential that there is improved communication between veterinary and human medicine. The goal of One Health is to improve on a global scale the overall health of all species.
Please share and describe your best experience working with animals.
My best experience working with animals was through the CREAM program at UVM. CREAM stands for Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management. It is a program in which fifteen students run a herd of thirty-four lactation cows for a year. As a group we performed all of the chores, including milking at 3:30AM. We learned aspects of veterinary care, herd health, business management, nutrition, breeding, and most importantly, how to work as a team. It has definitely been the most valuable experience I have had and will be my foundation for working with others in veterinary medical school.
Have you participated in any volunteer or veterinary internships? If so, please share your best experience.
Pre-Veterinary Intern at Atlantic Coast Veterinary Specialists: This was one of my most exciting internships. I absolutely love cardiology. At this internship I shadowed Dr. George Kramer, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology), who is a board certified veterinary cardiologist. I was able to observe echocardiograms and numerous procedures, including the surgical insertion of a pacemaker in a dog. I learned so much and was blown away at the capabilities of veterinary medicine.
Other Select Internships:
Mammal Intern at Long Island Aquarium
Veterinary Assistant at the New York Veterinary Specialty Center
Pre-Veterinary intern at the Veterinary Medical Center of Long Island shadowing a veterinary neurologist
President of the Pre-Vet Club
Please share an interesting or little-known fact you've learned about animals.
Marsupials have concurrent asynchronous lactation, meaning they can nurse two joeys of two different ages concurrently, meaning the mammary glands are producing two different qualities and quantities of milk at the same time…. So cool!
What are your future aspirations and career plans?
In the fall I will be attending Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine with anticipated graduation in 2017. After graduation, I plan to participate in an internship, followed by a residency, and then become a small animal veterinary specialist. My primary interests are internal medicine and cardiology at the moment, but that is subject to change. After specializing, I plan to become a professor at a veterinary medical school and teach.