Frequently asked questions of the PreVet advisor:
1. Is the PreVet program at JMU the same as a Major, Minor, Concentration, Track or Core?
No. Like other pre-professional programs at JMU, the PreVet program is a preparation program, which is not the same as a Major, Minor, Concentration, Track or Core. The PreVet preparation program at JMU is simply a list of courses offered at JMU that serve as pre-requisites for entry into most, but not all, of the American veterinary schools. Students who declare their interest to be a PreVet student at JMU (which is the same thing as entering the Prevet Program) are recommended to take these courses. They are additionally invited to advising sessions that provide information on how to apply to professional schools, and to prevet club activities that promote interactions with professional veterinarians. PreVet students are notified by email about upcoming PreVet activities (which are also posted on the Upcoming Events page at this website, and on the PreHealth programs web calendar). They also have access to a PreVet advisor (Dr. Chris Rose) for help with course choices, career advice, application procedures and organizing club activities.
2. How competitive is the admission process to veterinary school?
Very. There are currently 30 veterinary schools in the US, five in Canada, and others in countries around the world. Most have classes of less than 100 students, but, on the bright side, there is a nationwide shortage of veterinarians in almost every field so jobs are readily available.
3. When and how does a student declare their interest in the PreVet program at JMU?
A student can declare his/her interest in becoming a PreVet student on his/her application to become a JMU student. Alternatively, once enrolled at JMU, a student can declare his/her interest by submitting a Change or Declaration of Major Form to the Pre-Professional Health Advising Office, which is Room G24, Roop Hall. The student must list PreVet Preparation on the right side of the form, in the box entitled Minor/Preparation, and have the Pre Professional Health Coordinator, Dr. Sharon Babcock, sign the form.
4. Are there specific admission requirements to become a PreVet student at JMU?
5. Is there a "preferred Major" that a PreVet student should select in order to maximize his/her chances of getting into veterinary school?
No. The choice of undergraduate major is not critical as long as the student meets all of the school-specific pre-requisites. Though many schools used to require lots of animal science classes but those requirements have been dropped, all schools now base their admissions on the combination of overall academic standing (GPA), performance in prerequisite courses, GRE grade (if required by the school), record of working with vets and different kinds of animals and animal owners, your research, community and employment experiences, letters of recommendation, and performance in an interview. Though PreVet students at JMU are encouraged to major in the subject of their choice, most pick Biology as the course requirements for a Biology Major include almost all the courses recommended in the PreVet program. If a student picks a Major outside of science, he or she might expect completing the Major and the recommended courses to take more than four years.
6. On what criteria do vet schools base their admissions?
Veterinary schools base their admissions on the combination of overall academic standing (GPA), performance in prerequisite courses, GRE grade (if required by the school), record of working with vets and different kinds of animals and animal owners, your research, community and employment experiences, letters of recommendation, and performance in an interview. At the same time, because admissions are based on a wholistic assessment of student strengths and weaknesses, students with an overall GPA of 4.0 sometimes do not get admitted, and others with 3.0 can be admitted.
7. What is the number one predictor of success in veterinary school?
The number one predictor of success in veterinary school (as in many professional schools) is a student’s science GPA in their undergraduate majors. Though GPA expectations vary among schools, the average GPA of incoming students in 2016 was 3.59.
8. How important is well roundedness in an application for Vet school?
Very important. Applicants should be well rounded and if at all possible, have experience working with different kinds of animals. If they are not able to get a job working with animals, they should at least shadow veterinarians as much as possible. Admission committees want to ensure that applicants have a realistic impression of the veterinary field which means that they need to know that vets can't save all animals, euthanasia is not an uncommon occurrence, and not all clients provide appropriate care for their animals. So it is always helpful if pre-vet students shadow with more than one type of veterinarian or at least in more than one clinical practice (if clinical practice is their interest) so they can observe a wide range of experiences. And since most vet schools require a recommendation letter from a veterinarian, extensive shadowing also provides that opportunity for students that don't otherwise have that option.
9. Does your choice of JMU for your undergraduate degree increase or decrease your chances of admission to a particular veterinary school?
No (at least, not to my knowledge). JMU grads have been accepted at schools all across the country, including Colorado, Western, Kansas, Minesota, Illinois, Virginia Tech, Tufts, and Ross (which is actually on St. Kitts in the Carribean). The reason that there are fewer JMU alumni than Virginia Tech alumni enrolled at Virginia Tech vet school is that much fewer JMU alumni usually apply to vet school each year (usually 1-3) and not all of those apply to Virgina Tech vet school.
10. Will your JMU transcript state that you are a PreVet student?
11. Do all PreVet students at JMU who are Biology Majors have the PreVet advisor as their Major advisor?
No. However, all PreVet students at JMU are encouraged to visit the PreVet advisor to discuss any concerns related to their prevet education.
12. Does a student have to declare him or herself as a PreVet student in order to apply to a veterinary school?
No. Membership in this preparation program is voluntary, and not in any way essential for getting into vet schools. Though membership does not guarantee entrance to a veterinary school, it affords many opportunities for information gathering, which promote greater awareness of the challenges of pursuing a veterinary career and strategies for overcoming them.
13. What is JMU's success rate for graduates applying to vet schools?
High. One to three JMU students usually apply per year. Over the past dozen years, almost all who submitted a serious application (meaning with a competitive GPA, some veterinary work experience and letters of recommendation from JMU faculty and professional veterinarians) were admitted to one or more of the schools to which they applied.
14. How does one apply to veterinarian school?
One can contact the schools of interest directly to request application materials. This should be done in the summer before senior year as applications are usually due in early October. Alternatively, many but not all schools accept applications through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS), which is provided by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). The procedures, forms and requirements for letters of recommendations (which are referred to by VMCAS as evaluations) can be found at VMCAS Web Application. The application window opens in May and closes in mid September of the year before the student would start vet school. Applicants are requested to create an account. They can then register their evaluators for the online evaluation process, and evaluators will automatically receive an email with details on how to access the secure Electronic Letter of Recommendation (eLOR) system. Some schools accept committee or composite letters of recommendation and others do not. Therefore it is best for students and advisors to check with the schools sites for evaluation requirements such as who the letters need to be from and what types of letters are accepted. Some schools also require applicants to take the Graduate Record Exam so plan ahead.
15. What opportunities for gaining veterinary work experience are available in the Harrisonburg area?
Many students have found opportunities to volunteer, shadow and do paid work at some of the many clinics in the area. The best way to find these opportunuities is to phone the clinics, or better yet, visit them and leave a copy of your CV and statement of interest on file. There are also opportunities for junior and seniors to do an internship at the Virginal State Agricultural Diagnostics lab on Reservoir Road. This lab does necropsies and a variety of blood, microbiology, and PCR tests to determine causes of death for poultry and livestock brought to the clinic by local farmers. There is space for one JMU student per term during the academic year and you must Contact Dr. Rose to be wait listed.
16. Are there additional requirements for getting your license to practice veterinary medicine if you graduate from certain schools?
Yes. Some of the offshore veterinary medical colleges (St. Matthews on Grand Cayman, and the American University of Antigua) are not yet accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Council on Education. Therefore, graduates of these programs must go through one of two systems, ECFVG or PAVE, to complete a foreign graduate exam in order to get licensed (sit for licensure) in the United States (each state determines which system it uses to license graduates of non-accredited veterinary medical colleges). More information is available at ECFVG and PAVE. Graduates of colleges that are accredited by the AVMA do not need to go through this additional step to become licensed in the U.S. The accredited colleges include all of the 30 U.S. and 5 Canadian veterinary colleges, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine on St. Kitts, St. George's University School of Veterinary Medicine on Grenada, and many other schools outside of North America.
17. Does JMU offer all courses that are required as prerequisistes for all vet schools?
No. Some schools require an Animal Nutrition course, which can be taken online through a number of universities, including Purdue, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Rutgers. Some schools, e.g., Saginaw Valley State University, offer a Human Nutrition course that might also satisfy the Animal Nutrition course requirement.
18. If I don't make it into a veterinary school, what are the alternative career options for people wishing to work with animals?
Biological research, conservation, and wildlife and zoo management are just a few of many.
19. Can one do a PhD in Veterinary Medicine, and if so, where?
Yes. U. Penn, Colorado, Cornell, Tufts, Louisiana State U, UC Davis, U Illinois, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and Michigan State University all offer combined DVM/PhD programs. These focus on biomedical research, medicine, food safety, animal diseases, biopharming, and many other applications of animal biology.
20. How does one get training in the veterinary medicine of exotic animals?
Many veterinary schools including Kansas State University and UC Davis have residency programs for graduate veterinarians specializing in exotic animal medicine. Undergraduates who attend schools with such a program will generally get more exposure to exotic animals before they graduate. Also, the AVMA has a page linking to all of the state associations, www.avma.org/statevma, which in turn usually have "search for a veterinarian" options. A student might be able to use this resource to track down a specialist in exotic animal medicine for shadowing.
21. In their applications to vet schools, can students employed at family veterinarian practices use letters of recommendation from those practices?
According to the admissions committee at AAVMC, most veterinary schools currently accept this type of evaluation, though it is wise to have the letter written by a veterinarian who is not a direct relative.
22. Are there any programs or resources available to undergraduates to learn more about the veterinary profession, veterinary college and the process of applying to vet schools?
Yes, there are several. In March, the Veterinary Medical Career Information Session is hosted by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges in Washington, DC 20005. This event, which is FREE, is a unique opportunity for high school and undergraduate students with interests in veterinary medicine. The event focuses on information sessions, including a special session for high school students interested in going into undergraduate preveterinary programs. For undergraduate students, there is an annual session devoted to answering any questions about applying to vet school during the next year. For those interested in going to school outside of the US, there is a session featuring AAVMC International and Affiliate members, which will provide information on attending veterinary medical schools outside of the United States. For more information and to register, go to www.aavmc.org.
Tufts University offers their Adventures in Veterinary Medicine program, two sessions of which are held at Tufts in June. Adventures in Veterinary Medicine is a career-exploration program designed to provide participants with direct insights into the realities and opportunities of a career in veterinary medicine. The week-long sessions for college students include lectures, demonstrations, panel discussions, admissions advice, case studies and rotation through our hospitals. Many of the past participants have successfully gained admission to veterinary school at Tufts University and at other schools. As our program continues to attract bright, motivated students who are seriously considering a career in veterinary medicine, admission remains competitive. There is no deadline for applying, however, as each session has limited seats, it is highly recommended that applications be submitted by early February. The admissions selection process begins in February and continues on a rolling basis until the sessions are full. For more information on the program, including eligibility, tuition and the online application, visit www.tufts.edu/vet/avm or contact AVM@tufts.edu or 508-839-7962.
The Veterinary School at the University of Pennsylvania has created a summer camp program for both college and high school students (11th and 12th graders). The Veterinary Exploration Through Science (VETS) program is an exciting new experience. This is a day program of one week sessions. Two sessions have been designed specifically for college students and two sessions have been designed for high school students. The program has been created for those who are interested in the science of veterinary medicine. Students will participate in rotations with our fourth-year vet students and experience veterinary medicine throughout our small animal hospital. Some areas the students will rotate through are Cardiology, Medicine, Dentistry, Emergency Services and Orthopedics. Special labs in Pathology, Developmental Biology and Anatomy have been created specifically for the students participating in our program, which will be taught by our renowned faculty or veterinary students. Additionally, a whole day will be devoted to our New Bolton Center, our large animal facility. Students will tour through the Marshak Dairy, Widener Hospital for Large Animals, Hoffman Reproduction Center and our state-of-the-art Swine facility. This ambitious program will also be supplemented by several lectures such as Public Health, Bovine Rumen demo, and Radiology to name a few. A student panel discussion will be held with our current vet students which will provide participants the opportunity to learn firsthand about our veterinary school through the student perspective. Additionally, participants will interact with members of the Admissions Office who are coordinating this program. One-on-one sessions with an Admissions officer can be arranged. If you have been interested in a career in veterinary medicine, then this program will provide you with an understanding of the challenges and rewards of this profession. You will have the opportunity to interact with other students who have a similar passion and begin forging future relationships with those who care about science and medicine for animals. See SUMMER VETS Program, call 215-898-5434 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Also, the 2009/2010 edition of the Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR) is now available, and can be borrowed from the PreVet advisor. The book contains admissions and contact information for all 33 U.S. and Canadian veterinary medical colleges, as well as listing veterinary institutions in Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico and the Caribbean. VMSAR provides an overview of the application and enrollment processes along with specific information on each of AAVMC's member and affiliate colleges. This year's edition highlights the roll of accreditation and licensure in the decision making process. For more information and purchasing instructions on the VMSAR please visit www.aavmc.org/vmcas/VMSAR_publications.htm
AAVMC also puts out an electronic newsletter, PreVet Advisor, which provides news on veterinary schools, links to information on careers in veterinary medicine, VCCA application procedures, GRE exam procedures, etc., a link to VMCAS on Facebook, and a box for getting on the mailing list.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) also has an websitehttp://www.avma.org/default.asp for professional veterinarians that provides links to sites on education, careers, jobs, and the student AVMA, as well as scientific issues, journals, veterinary services, etc..
Lastly, many vet schools hold annual open houses usually in April. Check the websites of individual schools for more information.
23. Can one do a graduate degree on the scientific, ethical, and policy issues surrounding the roles of animals in society, and if so, where?
Yes, a Masters degree at the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy, which is at the Cummings School for Veterinary Medicine. Students in the Tufts M.S. in Animals and Public Policy program examine the wide range of scientific, ethical, and policy issues surrounding the roles of animals in society, and build the knowledge and skills needed to make a difference in the lives of animals and the people who interact with them (all of us!).
24. What is the average number of vet schools that students apply to?
Between 4 and 5 in 2016.
25. What kind of recommendation letters can and cannot be submitted through the electronic application process (eLOR) used by the AAVMC?
Single page letters from individuals and committees that fit within the character count can be submitted using the electronic eLOR system. Longer committee letters and composite letters must be submitted in paper form with all necessary attachments. Go to http://www.aavmc.org/vmcas/documents/Eval2010.pdf to download the paper evaluation form which must be submitted along with the multiple page committee and composite letters. For a committee letter, register your committee chairperson (or designated alternate) as "other"; for a composite letter, register one "other" for each evaluation that the composite letter is supposed to represent. There must be equal numbers of evaluation forms for the number of letters being submitted, i.e., if you wish to have a composite letter count for all three evaluations, it must have three evaluation forms submitted.
26. Do any of the Carribean schools have transfer agreements with US vet schools?
Yes, the one in Antigua has a transfer agreement with Virgina Tech-Maryland that allows students to transfer to Virgina Tech for their clinic courses and get their degree from Virgina Tech.
27. What kind of credentials do the European and Canadian veterinary schools provide for working in the US?
Some, including the Royal Veterinary College in London and the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, are fully accredited by the Council on Education (COE) of the AVMA, the recognized accrediting body for veterinary colleges in the United States and Canada, which means that its graduates are qualified, educationally, to be licensed in all states without having to fulfill the the requirements of the Evaluation Committee for Foreign Veterinary Graduates. The one in Guelph accepts up to 15 US students each year and applicants do not have to finish their bachelor's degree in order to start the program - they just have to complete four full time semesters and take the 8 prerequisite courses and write the GRE. They have close to 0% attrition and their graduates have a very high success rate in the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam.
28. What kind of dual degrees can be obtained with the DVM?
St. George’s University Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine offers a fully accredited Masters in Public Health (MPH) Program. St. George’s MPH program graduates are eligible to obtain US Board Certification in Public Health (CPM). The MPH degree program, offered within St. George’s Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, provides students with the opportunity to earn independent MPH degrees or dual degrees, such as the MD/MPH and the DVM/MPH.
29. Are there programs available for students who have or have not completed a biology majors and do not have the grades or the courses prerequisites to meet veterinary school requirements?
Yes, many schools are now offering one and two year
postbaccalaureate and career-changer programs, which have been very successful
in helping students improve their academic credentials for the next admission
For example, Drexel University College of Medicine offers a Veterinary Medical Science (VMS) Program, which is a one-year Post-bacc program. They also offer a a two-year graduate program, Master of Laboratory Animal Science (MLAS) Program. Drexel states that more than 80% of graduates of these two programs have been accepted to accredited veterinary schools.
Columbia University offers a Postbac Premed Program, which also supports students in their preparation for veterinary medical school.
For more information on postbaccalaureate and career-changer programs in general, go to http://www.services.aamc.org/postbac/.