Ask The Vet

Future Veterinarians

Dreaming about a future as a veterinarian? Science and math are important, but so are good communication skills. (PF photo by Greg Latza)

QUESTION

I am 13 and considering a career in veterinary medicine. Can you tell me if becoming a veterinarian is worth it? Is there anything I could be doing now that would help me get into vet school? Finally, do you ever regret becoming a vet?

ANSWER

I believe any career is worth it if you love what you do and make a difference for good in the world. I was attracted to veterinary medicine because I grew up on a farm, and I knew I wanted to be a farmer or help farmers. There is something very special and fulfilling in being able to help a farmer with his livestock.

For now, focus on being the best student you can be. While science and math skills are clearly needed in pre-veterinary studies, in veterinary school and in your day-to-day work, it's important to have very good English and communication skills. Experience with livestock is always a plus. And, if you have the opportunity, consider working with a veterinarian. It will help you know if this is really what you want to do. It is also a plus in the admissions process to vet school.

Veterinary medicine offers many career paths, besides the obvious clinical practice. Veterinarians work in education, diagnostic laboratories, veterinary and human biomedical research and development, consultation, the military and the government.

There are also many career paths that do not require a veterinary degree. Licensed veterinary technicians or veterinary nurses can graduate with two to four years of training, and they are essential in all areas of our profession. Veterinary assistants, receptionists and other positions in clinical practice offer additional career options, and often these require no formal training. Pharmaceutical companies employee thousands of non-veterinarians in roles from research and development to sales.

To answer your last question, I have never regretted my career choice. I do regret those times when my work has interfered with my family time. A famous quote says, "No one on their deathbed ever said I wish I had spent more time at the office." So, my advice to anyone is to always consider your work- and home-life balance.

I wish you the best of luck. Find what makes your heart sing and make a difference for good in every aspect of your life.