Description of the Profession
Veterinarians serve in various roles in our society: 1) they provide healthcare for animals in all types of settings, 2) they conduct research, and 3) they protect humans against diseases carried by animals. They work in their own or group practices; as U.S. government meat and poultry inspectors; as animal welfare and safety workers, epidemiologists, or commissioned officers for U.S. Public Health Service or various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Skills and Characteristics Important to this Profession
A strong background in the physical and biological sciences is a must! Excellent interpersonal, business management and leadership skills are also required for the practice of veterinary medicine. Clinical veterinarians work long hours with animals, their owners (who often have a very strong bond with their animals) and their staff. Good manual dexterity, affinity for animals and physical stamina round out the important qualities needed for those students who are interested in the profession.
All of the above skills should be developed and honed during high school and college through coursework, participation in clubs and extracurricular activities. See Professional Development and HPPLC-Sponsored Clubs for further suggestions.
Description of the Indiana University Veterinary Medicine Programs
Indiana University does not offer a degree in veterinary medicine on any of its campuses. Because Purdue University is the only veterinary medical school in Indiana, our office works closely with Purdue's Student Services Office to provide our students with accurate information about admission requirements and criteria (see link to HPPLC handout under "Further Information" below). Our prevet advisor encourages students to apply to various veterinary schools across the country (and around the world).
Other Accredited Programs
For a list of accredited veterinary medical programs, choose the "Students & Admissions" link of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. Purdue University Press, also produces a book for the Association called VMSAR 2011-2012: Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements.
Additional Notes and Recommendations
Most prevet students pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biology while at IU, although there is no preferred major for prevet students. Many veterinary schools do not require that a bachelor's degree be completed before beginning their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) program. There are so many prerequisite requirements, (inside and outside the classroom) students often find it difficult to apply any earlier than the summer prior to their fourth year of college, when undergrads usually apply to professional and graduate schools.
Job Shadowing / Observation
Experience working with a variety of animals is absolutely crucial for admission to vet schools and as preparation for a career in veterinary medicine. Caring for family or neighborhood pets is not enough. Prospective applicants should search out ways to gain experience by volunteering and/or working for animal shelters, veterinary clinics, farms that have livestock, zoos, wildlife rehabilitation centers, etc. Experience should begin early and continue throughout the college years. Current students or alumni should schedule an advising session with HPPLC's Prevet advisor.
Also, job shadowing and observation are the best ways for you to get a first hand look at a given profession and will help you determine whether or not it is one you wish to look into further. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of any such opportunities that arise during high school; or, if you are already in college, to arrange job shadowing and/or observation as soon as possible.
Refer to the HPPLC Veterinary Medicine handout for more detailed information about prerequisite courses, application application and admission information for Purdue's program, and for additional resources.
Students interested in working with animals who may not want to pursue the D.V.M. degree have a variety of options, including programs in veterinary technology. See this BLS website for more information.