Pre-Vet Practical Experience

As soon as you decide you want to become a veterinarian – or even think you might want to be a vet – you should find positions where you can either volunteer, shadow, or work with a veterinarian. Documentation that you have worked with vets in different fields (large/farm animal, equine, small animal, exotic, wildlife, laboratory animals, primates) is very important. You MUST have some kind of experience with more than one type of veterinarian, and ideally, having exposure to at least 3 kinds of “clinical” practices will emphasize your commitment to your chosen career path and demonstrate diversity in your experiences. Additional kinds of work in other animal related fields, such as research, necropsy, field studies, rescue/rehabilitation work in animal shelters or zoos – are also excellent forms of supplemental experience.

Keep a log of the hours you volunteered/worked. Keep a record of the kinds of cases you see and some of the duties you are either exposed to or allowed to perform. If you are volunteering – be responsible and reliable – ask lots of questions – learn about the business side of the practices – not just the medical side. Ideally - you should have a letter of recommendation from at least one practicing veterinarian, who can attest to your desire, natural curiosity, and ease of interactions with the patients.

"Attached are two pictures of me on the Broadreach Veterinary Medicine program in Costa Rica the summer after my freshman year. The first is when we learned to do physical exams on cows at a ranch, and the second was when we got to do physical exams at a wildlife rescue center (I got to do mine on an anteater). It was a four week program, and I got a really great introduction to lots of different kinds of vet med."

Andy Meislin
Stanford University