Pre-Vet

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Articles on Pre-Vet:
   Major in Pre-Vet
   A future in Pre-Veterinary
   Pre-Vet Major...A Closer Look
   Explore a Pre-Vet Major
   Becoming a Verterinarian

Major in Pre-Vet

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“But ask the animals and they will teach you…which of these does not know …that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature.” Job 12:7, 9 

Some individuals are born with a strong affinity for the sciences, coupled with a passion for helping animals. Maybe you can relate. A veterinarian takes on a helping profession where the goal is to preserve well-being and restore what has been broken in the created animal world. Veterinarians must meld science, technology and old-fashioned, compassionate caregiving.  Pre-veterinary is an educational track that helps lay a strong foundation for those whose goal is to get into veterinary school. Though individuals applying to veterinary school have often earned other degrees, having a pre-veterinary degree helps distinguish you amongst the competition for this rigorous graduate program and ensures that you complete the prerequisite coursework required for admittance into the demanding world of veterinary school.

So, beyond a solid science/math aptitude and the desire to care for injured and diseased animals, what other skills and traits are necessary for success in this challenging field?

  • Driven. A pre-vet student must be prepared for hard work, discipline and perseverance. This degree is rigorous and demanding!  
  • Critical thinking. In order to diagnosis correctly and administer treatment effectively, it is important to be a careful problem-solver.
  • Compassionate. This is what drives excellent care. A successful veterinarian is one who acts with sincere empathy and concern.
  • Strong body and stomach. Not only is a certain degree of fitness desirable, but also the mental strength required to see animals suffering, and also to endure the possible kicks, bites and scratches that are inherent risks when working with sick animals.
  • Manual dexterity. Dressing wounds, administering shots, operating x-ray machines and other equipment is extremely hands-on work.
  • Teachable. Veterinary science is ever-evolving with new treatment options and advancements. To be competent you must stay current.
  • Flexible. You may be called upon to work long hours, administer round-the-clock emergency care, or show up in all kinds of weather conditions.

A typical pre-vet major typically takes four years to complete, followed by another four years of vet school. Generally, a pre-vet student should expect plenty of lab time behind the microscope, hours of research and a possible internship. While obtaining core classes in the humanities and social sciences you will also take plenty of math and science classes including:

  • Microbiology
  • Calculous
  • Statistics
  • Organic and Inorganic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics

Typically, the word veterinarian brings to mind the treating of pets in a private clinic. However, while 13% of vets are self-employed, others work in diverse settings including animal hospitals, laboratories, stockyards, feed lots, zoos, universities (in research or education) or for government organizations. Veterinary grad students (and beyond) sometimes branch into all sorts of animal-related specializations including everything from surgery to dentistry to equine science to animal optometry to anesthesiology. No matter what your specialization or future career goal, you can rest assured that a pre-vet trajectory will set you up for a rewarding and successful career! There is no end to the huge range of animal-related occupations that exist. With just a bachelor’s level pre-vet training you’ll be equipped for opportunities such as:

  • Animal nutritionist 
  • Veterinary assistant
  • Laboratory veterinary technician
  • Wildlife caregiver/rehabilitator
  • Animal shelter manager

If you enjoy soaking up scientific information and possess a deep concern for the health and welfare of animals, then maybe the next adventure God has for you is the choice of pre-vet studies!