The field of veterinary medicine offers the chance to work with animals and people in such areas as private practice, teaching and research, regulatory medicine, public health or even as an officer in the Army Veterinary Corps or Air Force Veterinary Service. Graduates of schools of veterinary medicine are awarded the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).
The State of Idaho is involved directly in veterinary medical education as a result of a joint regional veterinary medical education program established in cooperation with the Washington State University (WSU) College of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman, Washington. The program is a cooperative venture involving the states of Washington and Idaho. Because WSU is the primary school that will accept residents of the State of Idaho, most detailed information presented here will refer to the WSU program. However, it must be emphasized that ISU students have been admitted to veterinary schools in other regions of the U.S. In recent years there have been increasing opportunities for admission to schools of veterinary medicine that have traditionally been highly restrictive with respect to residency status. Current information can be acquired from the veterinary school which serves the student's state of residency and a program of study which will make the student competitive in the application process can be developed at ISU. A list of all veterinary schools in the U.S. and Canada appears at the end of this article. You can also find a complete listing of veterinary schools and their prerequisites on the web at www.aavmc.org.
Much of the information appearing in this article is adapted from a WSU Program in Veterinary Medical Education, 2003-2004 information booklet. A copy of it is available from the following address (or from ISU Pre-Health Professions Advisory Office):
Office of Student Services
College of Veterinary Medicine
Washington State University
P.O. Box 64702
Pullman, Washington 99164-7012
Qualification for Applications
The following are ISU courses which satisfy the preveterinary requirements for the WIMU Program.
|BIOL 1101 (4) + 1101L||Biology I + Lab||4|
|BIOL 1102 (4) + 1102L||Biology II + Lab||4|
|BIOL 3358 (3)||Genetics||3|
|BIOL 4432 (3) OR BIOL 4445 (3)||Biochemistry OR Biochemistry I||3|
|CHEM 1111 (4) + 1111L (1)||General Chemistry I + Lab||5|
|CHEM 1112 (3) + 1112L (1)||General Chemistry II + Lab||4|
|CHEM 3301 (3) + CHEM 3303 (1)||Organic Chemistry I + Lab||3|
|MATH 1143 (3) OR 1147 (5) OR higher||College Algebra OR College Algebra and Trigonometry OR higher||3 OR 5|
|MATH 1153 (3)||Statistical Reasoning||3|
|PHYS 1111 (3) + 1113 (1)||General Physics + Lab||4|
NOTE: Although the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine requires only one semester each of organic chemistry and physics, students are encouraged to complete a full year (2 semesters) of each. These requirements demand a minimum of two academic years of pre-veterinary work. Any student who wishes to go to veterinary school with only two years of pre-veterinary work should consult with the chair of the ISU Health Professions Advisory Committee, because biochemistry is usually taken in the third year of college. It is available at Washington State University in the summer before classes begin in the fall for any student admitted to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine without a biochemistry course.
Courses Required for Entering Other Colleges of Veterinary Medicine
Historically, residents of the State of Idaho have had little possibility of gaining admission to veterinary schools other than Washington State University mentioned above. Recently, there have been more opportunities for admission to veterinary schools in other regions of the country. A student interested in other colleges of veterinary medicine would be well advised to write to those schools to obtain specific information about preveterinary requirements. A very good centralized source of information about individual colleges of veterinary medicine is at the Association of American Veterinary Medical College (AAVMC) web site at http://www.aavmc.org.
It is a good idea not to limit yourself just to two or three years of college, but to choose a major--it is strongly recommended that it be a science major. Work within your chosen major and yet still have these preveterinary requirements completed in two or three years so you can apply before you graduate. This is to your advantage since many people are not accepted upon their first application, but may be accepted in subsequent years. Veterinary schools like to see reapplicants since it shows the dedication essential to your quest of getting into a veterinary school.
As well as required classes, a person's overall grade point average (GPA) must be high; at least 3.2, but the higher the better. Most schools pay particular attention to overall science GPA as well as the grade point average of the last two years. The average GPA of entering freshmen for the most recent 45 semester hours has been about 3.6-3.7 at Washington State University for the past several years, so be sure to keep your GPA as high as possible.
In addition to developing a well-rounded coursework program in pre-veterinary medicine, one must obtain considerable veterinary medical experience. Experience with animals is an absolute requirement for the successful pre-veterinary medical student. Ideally, this is best acquired by working for an extended period of time for a practicing veterinarian. Growing up on a ranch or farm and obtaining experience in that way may suffice for some veterinary schools, but not for most. Even though Washington State University does not have a specified minimum amount of required veterinary and animal experience, a suggested target is 300 total hours of experience with a practicing veterinarian. One hundred and fifty of these hours can be satisfied by non-veterinary animal experience (e.g. living on or working on a ranch or farm for several years). The remaining experience should be gained by employment by the veterinarian, or by volunteer work. It is advantageous to acquire experience with large animals as well as small animals when working with veterinarians if application is to be made to the WSU program.
National Standardized Test
Veterinary medical schools in the U.S. have not yet standardized their use of national admissions test. The two examinations that are used are the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Veterinary College Admission Aptitude Test (VCAT). Only the GRE will be accepted by WSU. You should check well in advance in future years to determine which exam is acceptable to WSU. A number of other veterinary schools require the GRE; some require the VCAT. A few schools require the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The GRE is given more or less continually at the ISU Counseling and Testing Center (it is a computerized test); the VCAT may also be given there, but special arrangements must be made for that to be done.
Centralized Application Service
A centralized application service for veterinary schools began in 1995. It is called the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). Application forms may be obtained from the Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, 1101 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Suite 710, Washington, D.C. 20005-3521, or write to a participating veterinary school. WSU is a participating school. This application is submitted directly via the internet. The easiest access to this program and in formation about it is at the www.aavmc.org website.
Application Procedures - WOI Program
Washington residents and Idaho residents may complete the VMCAS application. The completed VMCAS application, along with the appropriate fees, must be returned electronically to the VMCAS office by the deadline for any veterinary school you are applying to (October 1 for WSU). If you are only applying to the veterinary school at WSU, you may choose to use the WSU direct online application at www.vetmed.wsu.edu.
When all your letters and forms have arrived at Washington State University, they will notify you that your file is complete. Be sure you hear from the school indicating that your file is complete. If you file is incomplete this may delay processing your admission forms and a delay can be detrimental to your application.
The school generally reviews the application forms in late January to early February, selecting applicants for upcoming interviews. Qualified applicants are then chosen to be interviewed. Decisions will be made by mid-March. Most veterinary schools will follow a similar schedule, although details will vary.
For further information contact:
Washington State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Office of Student Services
PO Box 647012
Pullman, WA 99164-7012
Interviews with Colleges of Veterinary Medicine
Interviews are usually scheduled for mid-February by Washington State University. It is best if you can make it at the first time assigned to you to avoid delays.
Interviews are unique experiences for most applicants. An important consideration is to not get nervous, since you may forget things you really want to say if you lose your composure. To prepare for the interview, go over the application form, which you should have made copies of before sending in. Also make lists of all the reasons why you want to be a veterinarian. Veterinary colleges are notorious for ignoring your good points and getting right to your weak points and concentrating on them. If your grades are good but you lack experience, be prepared to defend why you do not have much experience. However, do not mislead the committee or present unrealistic justifications; be honest. If your grades are average, be aware of this and be prepared because you can be sure they will ask you about them. Also, many people are not accepted on their first application, but may be on their second or third try. Admissions committees often ask what you will do if you are not accepted, so be prepared to respond to that.
Again, be honest and sincere. Be sure to include futures plans to reapply the following year, as well as any plans for further veterinary experience. Another topic in which questions often arise is related to your plans after graduation from the veterinary school and the future of veterinary medicine in your home state. Dress appropriately, but make sure you will be comfortable in the clothing you selected during the interview.
As indicated earlier, Idaho is a part of a regional veterinary medical education program at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. This means that normally there are 11 seats per class reserved for Idaho residents. Residents of other western states may be eligible for admission to Washington State University, the University of California at Davis, or Colorado State University through participation in the WICHE student exchange program. Idaho residents admitted to the WSU program will pay resident tuition.
Acceptance into Veterinary School
After all interviews are completed, the admission committee selects those applicants to be accepted. Washington State University has a scoring system on which they rate their applicants. Those applicants with the highest scores are those who are selected for admission. The following is a detailed description of the selection criteria at Washington State University, as well as a presentation of the point scoring system.
Selection Criteria (WSU Program)
1) Academic Performance
All preveterinary requirements must be completed by the end of the academic year during which the application is under consideration. In order to meet minimum qualification standards, an applicant must have generally compiled an overall grade point average of 3.20 or higher on a 4.00 system.
An applicant should provide sufficient evidence that he or she can handle a full course load; this would generally mean an average of at least fifteen credits hours per term. In addition, the quality of the courses will be evaluated. Preference will be given to candidates with the greater depth and breadth of academic background.
Extenuating factors relating to academic performance will also be considered. This will include, but not necessarily be limited to, such factors as work commitments outside of class, family responsibilities, and strength of precollege preparation.
2) Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Most veterinary schools use GRE or VCAT scores. Be sure to have scores for the appropriate exam forwarded to WSU no later than October 1 of the academic year in which you are applying for entry the following fall. If the GRE has been taken within the last 5 years of the application deadline, an applicant may utilize those test scores if desired. Check information from specific schools for exact deadlines for these exam scores.
3) State of Origin or Residence
In general, first preference at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine is given to qualified students who are residents of Washington, Oregon, or Idaho, second preference to qualified students certified by WICHE compact states, and third preference to all other qualified students.
In the case of Washington and Idaho applicants, residency for tuition purposes must be established the year of application. The definition of residency for tuition purposes may vary with specific states. Therefore, applicants should contact the appropriate authority regarding residency requirements. Applicants from WICHE states will be considered only if officially certified by the WICHE office from that particular state. It will be the applicant's responsibility to gain this certification. The Chair of ISU Health Professions Advisory Committee has the appropriate information about WICHE offices in the various western states.
4) Application Form
Candidates must complete the application form in a clear and concise manner. It is advisable to keep a copy of your submitted application.
5) Veterinary Medical Exposure
An applicant must have been employed by, worked on a volunteer basis for, or by some other means, gained significant contact with, a graduate veterinarian. Significant contact will be established by the terms of a letter of evaluation from that veterinarian or veterinarians. In an effort to gain exposure to both large and small animal species, an applicant may substitute animal experience (i.e., growing up on a ranch, etc.) as a portion of the requirement for veterinarian experience.
6) Recommendation Forms (Letters of Evaluation)
Each applicant should have three evaluation forms submitted to the Admissions Committee as an aid in evaluation of personal traits. The individuals selected should know the applicant well so that the recommendations will be meaningful. At least one recommendation form must be from a veterinarian with whom the applicant has had contact. Students enrolled in a graduate program should include a recommendation from their advisor.
7) Personal Development
Achievements, leadership ability, and participation in activities outside formal academic areas are important here. Determination, motivation, responsibility, and maturity are also considered by the committee.
After an initial screening of application materials, the Admission Committee requires a personal interview with those candidates to be further considered. In general, interviews are conducted by teams containing members of the Admissions Committee plus designated representatives from the respective states. Final selections occur after interviews have been conducted. Candidates should demonstrate during interviews that they are articulate, poised, and well motivated toward a career in veterinary medicine.
Specific sites will be utilized for the various interviews scheduled. Except under the most unusual circumstances, the following procedure will be followed:
Interviews of applicants will generally take place on the WSU campus in Pullman in late February or early March.
Acceptance as well as rejection and alternate letters go out in the middle of March. If you are accepted, you will be asked to send a deposit immediately. Also, at the end of the semester, send an official copy of your final transcript by the date required by the veterinary school. If you are an alternate, you will be informed as such. However, the chances of being ultimately accepted from an alternate list are slim. It is still an excellent idea to send a copy of your final transcript even if you are an alternate, in case you do get lucky. If you are not accepted, keep up the good work and plan to reapply the following year. This shows perseverance on your part. This is what the veterinary schools are looking for in their applicants.