Planning a Career in Veterinary Medicine
Veterinary medicine is a challenging field with diverse job opportunities. The majority of veterinarians find employment in the private sector as owners of a solo practice or, increasingly, as partners or associates in a group practice. Veterinarians can also specialize in areas like parasitology, nutrition, embryo transfer, surgery, avian medicine, and exotic animal care. Many of these professionals are active in research or teaching or both and make significant contributions to human as well as animal health care. Additionally, many government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels employ veterinarians in regulatory and public health work.
Admission to a veterinary school requires a strong background in biology, chemistry, physics, and math, strong reading comprehension skills, good critical thinking and problem solving skills, in order to score high on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). At Georgia College the preveterinary student is exposed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum which fosters the development of these skills. Additionally, upper division courses such as Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, Comparative Animal Physiology, Parasitology, Microbiology, Organismal Physiology, and Immunology provide the basic science foundation that is essential for success in professional school.
Undergraduate grade point average is a critical factor in admission to veterinary school. Georgia College students have the advantage of small classes and individual attention from faculty members, which often results in better grades. Additionally, sound preprofessional advisement and guidance help students build a strong academic profile for their application to veterinary school. Important screening factors in admission to veterinary school are undergraduate GPA, scores on the GRE (at UGA, although the exam required may vary by school), and veterinary experience. Experience can be as a volunteer, intern, or veterinary assistant. Letters of recommendation are also an important consideration. Veterinary school admission committees like to see several letters from science faculty and one outside letter from a veterinarian who is familiar with the student's aptitude for veterinary work.
Veterinary medicine is one of the few preprofessional areas in which a particular major, Biology, is strongly preferred. Chemistry may also be an acceptable major. The preveterinary curriculum must include at least 63 semester hours to qualify students for any of the ten or so veterinary schools that will admit Georgia residents. However, most students have an undergraduate degree when they are admitted to veterinary school. Regardless of major area, the preveterinary curriculum must include the following:
- 8 hours General Chemistry
(CHEM 1211, 1212)
- 8 hours Organic Chemistry
(CHEM 3361, 3362)
- 3 hours Biochemistry (CHEM 3510)
- 8 hours Physics (PHYS 1111, 1112)
- 8 hours General Biology (BIOL 1107, 1108)
- 8 hours Advanced Biology
- Recommended: Cellular and Molecular Physiology (BIOL 3200), Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (BIOL 3450), Microbiology (BIOL 4180), and Molecular Biology (BIOL 4195).
This work should be completed no earlier than eight years before the date of matriculation and no later than the spring semester before matriculation. Students should strive to obtain the highest grades possible, as a high GPA is an important consideration for admission.
Many veterinary schools have additional requirements, so students should consult the individual catalogs and the preveterinary adviser in planning their preveterinary curriculum. Students should apply to veterinary school should a year before matriculation and schedule to take the GRE about the same time.