Veterinary Medicine

Veterinarians, those receiving the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, care for the health and well-being of animals, from dogs and cats to farm animals and exotic animals in zoos.  They work in private practice, academic veterinary medicine, research, public policy, and government, and in businesses that provide animal related products.  Once receiving the DVM you need to pass a national certification exams.  Some programs offer dual training in DVM and PhD, MBA, MPH and others.

Coursework

 Required courses usually include (AP credits may be acceptable depending on the veterinary school):

  • 2 semesters of biology with lab
  • 2 semesters of inorganic chemistry with lab
  • 2 semesters of organic chemistry with lab
  • 1 semester of biochemistry
  • 2 semesters of physics with lab (physics at Duke requires calculus I)
  • 2 semesters of English or English composition (AP Credits not acceptable)
  • 1 semester of statistics and/or 1 semester of calculus

In addition, some schools require:

  • 1 semester of psychology
  • 1 semester of microbiology (with lab)
  • 1 semester of physiology (lab not required)
  • 1 semester of Public Speaking
  • Additional courses in animal nutrition, humanities and social sciences and others; note that animal nutrition courses are offered on-line or correspondence through NC State University, Purdue University and Oklahoma State University.

Requirements can vary among veterinary schools so check the school in your home state and any others you might apply to.   AP credit may or may not be accepted.  AAVMC maintains a comprehensive list of prerequisite courses for each school that can be found here.

Experience

Admissions committees will look for a broad knowledge of veterinary medicine, so shadow and volunteer in several areas (try to get 3 different species) (e.g., general, small animal, large/food animal, equine, aquatic/marine mammals, wildlife, zoo animals) and settings (e.g., private practices, shelters, farms, and zoos).  Some schools require a minimum of 200 hours of clinical/medical/research experience as well as direct animal experience.  Note that the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Program, for example, states that admitted applicants have an average of 1500 hours of veterinary experience (Most Duke students have over 800 veterinary hours, which often includes research).  NC State requires a minimum of 400 veterinary hours which can include research and 100 animal hours (does not include pet ownership).  University of Wisconsin requires 300 clinical veterinary hours and research is extra.

Planning

All applications are submitted through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS).  Applications are accepted in May with a deadline of mid-September to October.  Your transcript must be verified, which is followed by a secondary application and possibly an interview (not all schools do interviews).  Some schools (Colorado State, Michigan State, Oregon State, Texas A&M, U California Davis and Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine) use the Multiple Mini Interview.  Most schools will expect three letters of recommendation (Cornell often wants more), with at least one from a veterinarian.  Others may come from PhD scientist or MD with whom you have worked along with other mentors.  Acceptances are sent out in November through March.  For more information, see the VMCAS Application Information website.

The GRE (verbal and quantitative exams) is required by most schools.  

Advising

The Pre-Vet Health Professions Advisor at Duke is Dr. Bernie Fischer

Resources