Top 5 Reasons to go to Vet School

There are as many reasons to get a DVM as there are people who want one.  This list isn’t intended to be proscriptive or exhaustive.  But, if your reason isn’t somewhere on here, I would suggest you carefully consider your actual core reason for deciding on vet school.

1) You want to be a leader.  This has to be the first and, I would argue, most important entry on this list.  I believe the biggest distinction between a veterinarian and a technician is that the vet is a leader.  Technicians can be, too- don’t get me wrong.  But the expectation is that the vet leads the team.  Even if there is a practice owner or manager, the buck stops at the veterinarian for care of the patient.  You.  Are.  Responsible.  Leaders need to clean cages and mop floors when no one else is available.  When things go wrong, leaders find solutions.  No matter WHAT you do with your DVM, you will be a leader.  This is an expectation coincident with getting the degree and being a professional.  If you don’t want to be a leader, don’t get a DVM.  Full stop.

2) You are curious.  I often tell students that the difference between (most) techs and the doctor is that the techs know WHAT to do, the doctor knows WHY they do it.  If you are curious to know more, and want to continue to learn, a DVM is a great route.  Once you graduate, you’re not done.  Medicine continues to change and evolve- you have to be excited to keep learning, keep improving your knowledge and medical skills, and keep working for the best for your patients.

3) You like school.  Why do you want to do 4 more years if you don’t like school?  That calculus doesn’t make sense.  You have to enjoy learning (see #2) and also like being in a school setting.  I encounter students all the time who just want to get done and get their DVM degree.  They don’t want to take the opportunity to learn from experts, or practice their craft- they just Want Out.  This always makes me sad.  I wonder why they are there in the first place.  If all you want is to Be A Veterinarian, I would suggest you go back and re-evaluate what being a vet means.  You need to be at least competent, which you (hopefully) will get during vet school.  If you just want a JOB, do something else.  This is a CAREER.

4) You want options.  The DVM is an incredibly powerful degree.  Obviously you can do individual patient care.  But you can also do herd health, public health, research (human, animal, basic), communication, education, wildlife, etc. etc.  Possibly more than any other professional degree, with a DVM, the world is your oyster.  Even if you aren’t sure what you want to do, it can be a good step for your future career.

5) You like variety.  If you want to drill down on a single subject and become an expert, get a PhD.  If you want to know a little of this, a little of that, the DVM is a great option.  Because of the comparative nature of the training, you will learn a lot about a lot of different topics.  I know WAY more about human anesthesia than any human anesthesiologist knows about canine anesthesia.  I could pretty safely anesthetize a person.  Almost no physician could say the same about an animal.  This variety is both a strength and a weakness- once you graduate, you probably don’t know everything you need to in order to be a competent general practitioner.  So if you like a lot of variety with your work, the DVM is a good degree to have.

You will notice “you love animals!” isn’t on this list, and that is deliberate, as we will see when I present Top 5 Reasons Not to go to Vet School.  Those are my top 5, what are yours?

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