Sean Owens (SO): My pathway into vet school was a little different than most students. I was originally a communications major and graduated with a degree in journalism. Also I was a nontraditional student and entered vet school when I was 29 years old. I did many things prior to coming to vet school - I worked on a horse ranch, I owned a horseback outfitting company, and I also worked at a dive shop and lived in the Caribbean. So, my pathway to vet school was a bit unusual. I would certainly say that students interested in veterinary medicine should pursue an undergraduate major they find interesting and that brings them personal satisfaction. A science degree is not the only pathway to vet school.
KD: How do you decide who is accepted to UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine?
SO: The admissions process for the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine involves evaluation of four elements of a candidate’s application. The first element is the last 68-quarter hour GPA or the last 45 semester hours GPA. The second factor is the VMCAS science GPA. The third factor is the quantitative GRE score. And the last factor is the score on the electronic letters of recommendation. From these four pieces of information we calculate a score known as the best linear predictor and from this we make our interview offers. The interview process typically involves us inviting 240 candidates to the MMI interview. Following the interview, candidates are selected for admission based upon their performance in the MMI.
KD: Do vet hours count for Davis? What about other schools?
SO: For the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine we require 180 hours of documented experience working with a veterinarian. We feel that this amount of time allows the candidate to understand the profession, while not disadvantaging candidates that may have to work to support their education or their families. Other schools have variable requirements for contact hours for their application process and candidates interested in applying to those schools should contact the school directly to find out their specific requirements.
KD: If I wanted to boost my GPA, what do you recommend me to do?
SO: It's difficult to say what specific things a candidate should do to boost their GPA without understanding their individual circumstance. I would recommend that candidates interested in applying to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine contact the admissions office to schedule an appointment to discuss their individual situation and to come up with a plan that best prepares them to submit a competitive application for admission to our program.
KD: Is it okay to ask for a letter of recommendation from a professor at a community college?
KD: What other vet schools do you recommend to apply to?
SO: Choosing what vet schools to apply to can be a very difficult decision. However, I would say that a candidate should apply to a school that meets their geographic needs as well as their financial needs and select a school that is going to be the most cost-effective for their situation. All AVMA accredited vet schools will offer candidates an excellent education and where to apply and where to eventually attend in many ways is a very personal decision that is based upon many factors.
KD: How do veterinarians who work in jobs that pay less (agriculture, shelter medicine) pay off their debts?
SO: This is a good question. I think candidates that are interested in applying to vet school should have some idea as to the amount of debt they're going to undertake and their eventual resources to pay off this debt. However, veterinary medicine does offer the opportunity to earn a very good living while still being able to pay off student loan debt and enjoy all the other benefits associated with being a medical professional.
KD: Does obtaining a degree from UC Davis Vet Med would give an individual a better chance of obtaining a job after graduation?
SO: Well, while I like to brag and I am certainly very proud of our school and I do think that graduating from the number one school in the country and the world probably does not hurt when our grads our looking for their first job, I would say that all of the AVMA accredited schools provide an excellent education and they all produce excellent veterinarians.
KD: How does a student decide on what track they’re interested in? Can they “mix tracks?”
SO: This is a tough question. Many students arrive at vet school with an interest in one species or one discipline only to change their mind when exposed to all of the potential career options within veterinary medicine. However, with regard to tracking, candidates interested in specific schools should contact those programs to determine what curricular opportunities are available for their applicable interest.
KD: Are there opportunities to “study abroad” or clinics I can volunteer once I’m in vet school?
KD: Where is veterinary medicine currently headed?
SO: I think in the future veterinary medicine is going to play a larger role in the one health movement and as society realizes the invaluable role that veterinary medicine plays in public health, agriculture, research, drug development as well as companion animal medicine and livestock and large animal medicine, I think that people are going to be surprised in the many ways that veterinarians contribute to the benefit of society.
KD: Where is veterinary medicine most needed today?
SO: While there are many needs, veterinarians are going to be in demand in academic positions as well as public health and one-health positions.
KD: Why should I go to vet school?
SO: Because it is the best job in the world!