how to become a reptile vet?

Discussion in 'The Lizard Lounge' started by amanda509, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. amanda509

    amanda509
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    im curious. please dont bash me. i asked this on another forum and had a ton of people bashing me because "its a competative field" or because im already on my way to "a joke for a business degree". im serious. after i graduate business school, i may consider getting into the veterinary field, obviously starting with prerequisites(sp). but its shame there arent more good herp vets around, and id like to change that for my area at least. any advice at all is appreciated.

    edit: it would also be nice to some minor vet duties when i open my reptile store. i know the only vet in the area charges a rediculous amount for just about everything. who would pay for a $50 fecal?
     
  2. ferretinmyshoes

    ferretinmyshoes
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    Staff Member

    There's no need for bashing! People saying it is a competitive field are only being honest, and you need to go in with reasonable expectations so you can be properly prepared and know what you need to do. So to get to vet school first you have to complete your undergrad degree, or at least complete enough of the pre-reqs to qualify for vet school. I finished my degree because why not have something to show for those years? The pre-reqs vary slightly based on which vet schools you are applying to, but for the most part it's all your sciences (bio, chem, organic chem, biochem, genetics, animal science) and some non-science pre-reqs. Vet school is 4 years by itself - no shortcuts there. You don't have to major in a science field. You can major in whatever you want, and a business degree is smart if you ever want to own your own practice.

    On top of this, a very important aspect is animal and veterinary experience. Now owning cool pets like chams doesn't count. They want to see you in the veterinary field especially - be a kennel tech and then try to be a vet tech so you are actually involved in the field you're interested in. That will help your application, but more importantly make sure you're actually interested in all that vets do and gives you a huge advantage later! What I learned as a tech was almost just as valuable as vet school. The experience makes everything make so much more sense. My biggest piece of advice for success is to be a vet tech for as long as you can before vet school.

    Grades are important - aim as high as possible in undergrad because it does make a difference. There are only 29 vet schools in the whole US, Canada and Mexico combines, so that does make it very competitive. There are hundreds of med school and less than 30 vet schools.

    When you go to vet school you don't get to pick your species. You learn about dogs, cats, cows, small ruminants and horses for the first two years in just about every program. And then starting your third year you get to pick if you like small animal versus large animal. Exotics classes are sparse and you can't ever chose to only do exotics. Dogs and cats or large animals are your focus, and you get exotics when and where you can. I took every exotic elective and wetlab I could and I still have so much to learn. I also spent two months of my 4th year at two zoos with their vets. That helped a lot! Also it was so much fun! I tell you this so you know what to expect and don't go in thinking you can just learn about reptiles from the beginning because then you'd just be disappointed.

    Also get school is very expensive. The average vet student finishes vet school with around $120,000 in student loans. That's not something to take lightly...

    Okay I do have to say something about this...if you're not a vet then I'd never pay for a fecal from you because even if you had the training to accurately diagnose what you're seeing (not easy) you can't give me any medications to treat it without a vet license. So what good would it be? And once you go through vet school where you work your butt off (first year and fourth year you're at school easily around 60-80 hours a week and then come home and study for hours and hours and pour everything you have into it) you will understand why the charges are the way they are. You deserve to get paid for your hard earned knowledge and skills! Be prepared to go into a very under-appreciated profession where despite your best efforts to help the owner and the patient you're always going to be accused of not caring or being greedy because you don't do it for free. Even when you give discounts to help! You have to be a strong person to not let that drag you down and burn you out.

    Overall, I love being a vet! I get to make a difference and help the animals and help owners better understand their pets. It's a great profession to be in, but it is a hard one to get into. If your heart is in it and you're ready to do the work though you will get there! If there is anything I can expand on or offer to help in addition to the above please let me know! :)
     
    ChameleonRave likes this.
  3. VeiledChams

    VeiledChams
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    Ferret, by any chance, would shadowing a veterinarian in another country work? In Colombia I have a pretty decent cattle ranch where I get hands on experience with everything: artificial insemination, palpations, birth, various surgeries, etc. I've been doing things like that since I could walk. I am a junior studying Biomedical Engineering at the university of miami, but want to become a vet as well.
     
  4. ferretinmyshoes

    ferretinmyshoes
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    That definitely counts! That's very valuable experience. We had people travel to other countries on mission trips or out of country vet related trips a lot. It's what you get to do that counts, and under vet supervision counts the most.
     
  5. chameleonkev

    chameleonkev
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    Interesting thread, I'm from the uk so it works a little different but still an eye opener. I wanted to go to collage and university to do something like this, I would love to work with reptiles and animals as a job, I'm 23 but carnt attend night classes for at least another year untill my partner finishes her nurse classes as I have our son at night, I no its a lot of work and it's around 7 years training here and I'm just thinking it would be perhaps to late to start it at 25
     
  6. Olimpia

    Olimpia
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    Biologist & Ecologist

    I wish it worked here like it does in Europe. I considered moving back to Spain for college since you don't have to do an undergrad before vet school, you just go in directly. But then I wouldn't be able to practice in the states, and I wasn't sure I wanted to stay in Spain or England forever. But I decided I just wanted to do science instead and deal less with people (especially sad people! Like me, every time my youngest dog scares me to death with another intestinal issue...)

    Amanda, if you are interested, there are ways! I know that here are American schools in the Caribbean that offer the first two years of vet or medical school, and then allow you to transfer in to an American university to finish the degree. Entering towards the middle is less competitive because students have dropped out for one reason or another, so it's not as cut-throat. Or the military will pay for your entire vet/medical education (obviously having to serve) so there are ways. It'll take some research to find out which way is best for your long-term success as a professional.
     
  7. amanda509

    amanda509
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    thanks ferret! all of that helped alot :) have you ever heard anything about the penn state vet program? my bf's parents work on the local campus, but they can more than likely help me get in after business school. wish they'd let me move in though, that 75% off tuition would be nice -.- are there any good grants you know of that i can start trying for now? also, is there anything i can do in my local vets office now until i decide whether i definitely want to go in or not? ive tried to volunteer before with office work to gain experience in business, but they wouldnt let me. ive also volunteered at the aspca a few years ago, but cant now because they're only open when i have school -.- i know owning pets like chameleons dont count, but what about a breeding reputation? specially with the vast majority of morphs in leopard geckos, gotta know about genes to get what you want out of the breedings ;)

    edit: i also know vets dont work for free, and for what they have to go through, i think theyd be crazy if they ever did. but i dont understand why the only exotic vet in my area, who isnt even good with many reptiles, has to charge almost twice for a simple task than what most other people in other areas pay? i had taken linus in for a simple checkup and fecal, the checkup was $60, and the fecal was $50...but even though nothing was wrong with him, i was still charged $150? i have no idea where the extra $40 charge came from and no matter how many times i asked, they wouldnt give me a straight answer! i understand there is a line between what is acceptable, and what is not. and personally, i dont think that was acceptable for a perfectly healthy chameleon :/ the vet wasnt even gentle with him :(
     
    #7 amanda509, Oct 3, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
  8. amanda509

    amanda509
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    is there any way i can start my prerequisites online while im going to business school? im just trying to find ways to help with time. im second guessing going to a specialty school for business because most of the credits are non transferable. im knocking myself in the head right now. i should of just bit the bullet and went to penn state to begin with. but im the first person in my family to ever consider school after highschool..so im on my own. none of my family know much about anything of that sort.
     
  9. ChameleonRave

    ChameleonRave
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    I absolutely love this thread. I plan to start out my schooling next year at the U of M - Twin Cities to some day become a veterinarian. I love the fact of being able to help someone with their animal if it's sick and needs to be helped. One thing I've been told is that if you are really considering going for veterinary school to start as a vet tech, then move up, also to take an internship at a local veterinary office or zoo. When I visited the campus this past summer they were describing the program, it sounded extremely fascinating in all they have to offer at the U, the only thing I am nervous about is seeing an animal in pain and having me to rely on for their animals needs, but I assume that is something that you have to work on while you go through school?
     
  10. Olimpia

    Olimpia
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    Biologist & Ecologist

    Amanda, why don't you go to the community school and start getting your chemistry, biology, electives out of the way?
     
  11. ChameleonRave

    ChameleonRave
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    I agree with Olimpia. That would definitely help. I know some schools (mine for example) that requires Chemistry and Biology to be taken or you can not graduate. Of course, there are higher levels of them. Personally Biology is more interesting than Chemistry.
     
  12. VeiledChams

    VeiledChams
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    Someone should've told me this while I was in high school. The workload is greatly reduced and you can dedicate time to your on-the-job experience: something much more valuable!
     
  13. ChameleonRave

    ChameleonRave
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    This makes me feel as if the school I go to is one of the only that make you take Biology - 9th-10th grade and Chemistry 11th grade...
     
  14. amanda509

    amanda509
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    cuz there is no "community" school..just a penn state campus. plus im already a full time student at the business school :/ i honestly dont know what to do. im starting to believe going to business school is a big waste of time. but i already have too much time and money invested in it to back out now and get nothing for my time already there..
     
  15. amanda509

    amanda509
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    i took biology in 9th grade, chemistry and zoology in 10th grade, another zoology class and physics in 11th grade, and microbiology in 12th...
     
  16. ChameleonRave

    ChameleonRave
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    Do you have some sort of academic counselor that works at the school? Maybe try and get in touch with them and see if they have a night class that you can be there for like 2 hours at night a few times a week? If not look into online classes, I'm sure that any major college or college branch will offer some form of online classes?
     
  17. ChameleonRave

    ChameleonRave
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    Well, okay that helps me a bit! I'm not the only one stuck taking those classes. ha ha I wish we had some form of zoology class.
     
  18. amanda509

    amanda509
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    ive asked about online classes, but ill have to do more research on it. i would take night classes, but on top of being a full time student, i also work 30-40 hours a week just to pay bills. i cant cut my hours anymore or i wont be able to afford my bills. unless they have like midnight classes haha! then that would be cutting into my sleep hours :p but maybe they have super early morning classes? i dont have school till 12...and i dont mind waking up early.
     
  19. amanda509

    amanda509
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    haha yea! the zoology classes were fun, we dissected soo many different things, it was really interesting seeing the differences internally :) i wish we would have went more in depth on how different parts of an animals body works...but oh well :/
     
  20. ChameleonRave

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    Well if you don't have to be at school until noon, I'm sure they will have a class somewhere in your morning for you to take! I really wish that the school I'm at offered programs for that stuff. It's all about sports here which is sad. I personally think that they should incorporate more art programs and things dealing with real careers. I've only taking drafting classes, since my back up is to go for architecture. :)
     

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