Getting into Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine took a lot of planning, hard work, and dedication. Read the interview to find out just exactly how Dr. Sara Goldstein went about it.
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Check out this book: Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR) to help you navigate all of the requirements for each college.
Name, Veterinary School attended, and year that you started.
Sara Goldstein, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, 2008
What was your major in undergraduate college?
Molecular and Cellular Biology, Minor in Chemistry
At what age did you first apply to Vet school?
How many schools did you apply to?
How many application cycles did you apply to, before getting into Purdue?
How many schools invited you for an interview?
How many of those gave you an acceptance letter?
Do you remember any specifically challenging interview questions?
1) What was one of the biggest obstacle in your life? How did you overcome it?
2) Name a problem and how you solved this problem creatively?
3) When was the last time you solved a difficult problem with classmates or friends? What was the situation? How did you aid in solving the problem?
4) Name a time when your actions had a significant impact?
5) Describe a situation where the odds were against you. How did you make it work?
What was your GPA (in undergraduate)?
What was your GRE score? GRE at Magoosh.com!
1060, Analytical Writing 5.5
Did you attend grad school?
Did you have large and small animal experience prior to getting into Purdue?
Yes. I was a veterinary assistant for a small animal hospital for a year prior to veterinary school. In regards to large animal experience, I mainly had equine experience from riding horses since I was 8 years old. Anytime a horse was injured I would help out any way I could.
What types of paying jobs did you have before getting into Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine?
I worked at the stable helping tack up the horses, take care of the stables, and eventually teaching lessons as I got older. Next, I worked as a veterinary assistant also responsible for office, surgical, and emergency administration. I even got to assist with dental procedures for a Speckled bear and a Siberian tiger!
During my undergraduate career, I worked for Unilever: Global Research and Development. I helped with chemists in the liquid soaps department involved with stability testing, preservative testing, and viscosity testing. Lastly, I had an internship at Pfizer Laboratory in the Biological Science Department where I worked with different cell culture techniques, kept a detailed notebook of my projects progression, and presented a poster session at the end of the internship. All were great experiences which helped me along my path to veterinary school.
How many people read your personal statement before submitting it and getting into Purdue?
Did you volunteer? If so, where?
I did not volunteer for anything consistently prior to veterinary school.
When did you decide to become a Vet?
Growing up I always had a connection with animals and a desire to help. After graduating from the University of Connecticut I decided to pursue a position as a veterinary assistant to determine if I enjoy what it really meant to be submerged in the veterinary medicine field. From my first day, I knew it was the profession for me. I applied mid-year during my position at the veterinary hospital.
Did you interview any Vets before starting the application process? If so how did you approach them?
No, most were pretty far from me. I did most of my research online and from word of mouth.
Were you a member of any clubs at your school? If so, which ones?
In high school, I was a part of many clubs as well as went horseback riding every weekend. The main clubs were the National Honor Society and the Key Club.
Did you join student clubs in your DVM program? If so, which ones? Were they helpful?
Feline Club, Equine Club (AAEP-Student Chapter), Holistic Club, Veterinary Business Management Society, and Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Each club was helpful in its own right. Each brought in different speakers for events. Additionally, the holistic club also had a great hands-on lab where we were able to practice with acupuncture needles after learning about some acupuncture points. The Veterinary Business Management Society was also helpful to bring attention to the lack of business skills veterinarians were previously offered. We were also able to receive a certification based on the number of hours attended. Lastly, with the Equine club, we were able to go on rounds as younger students through the large animal hospital and see what cases were in the hospital. We were also able to help volunteer to groom and vaccinate the research horses which was great!
Did you apply for Vet school after, or during your Bachelor’s education?
I applied to veterinary school after I received my Bachelors of Science degree. For me personally, a gap year helped me get my thoughts together, organize everything, and pursue my goal to my optimal ability.
Letters of recommendation are required from Professors and Veterinary Doctors, did you have both? Did you know them well?
Yes, I did have both. I did not know a veterinarian prior to working as a veterinary assistant. That to me would be the hardest letter of recommendation to get unless a person volunteers somewhere, or works with a veterinarian during their undergraduate career. I was not given this opportunity through my undergraduate schooling. I did know all my letter of recommendation writers well.
Did you find the application process stressful? Why or why not?
Yes, of course! It is a very overwhelming process not only because of all the paperwork, essays/supplemental material, and financial burden; it’s always in the back of your mind that the odds are against you for getting in.
Are you happy that you chose this career?
Yes. Being a veterinarian is a very fulfilling profession. There are certainly stressful days, but it is critical that veterinarians take care of themselves both mentally and physically. As a veterinarian, we are also able to work in multiple different environments including private practice, corporate practice, the pharmaceutical industry, and the government just to name a few. The sky is the limit and the rest of the world is just realizing the potential veterinarian have and can add to their company.
As a student, did you have to take out loans for your education? If so, are you concerned about the amount of debt or how to pay it back?
I did have to take out loans each year and I was also out of state. Out of state tuition is higher! I am always concerned about the amount of debt I have acquired and how I am going to pay it back. I have talked to many financial advisors and loan managers since graduation. There are so many different repayment options that you need to make sure you find the right plan for you. Then know that educational debt is considered “good debt” and know that it will follow you around for 25 years until it is hopefully forgiven!
(**note from author** I have found over 60 current scholarships listed on my resource page. Most are for veterinary students and a few are aimed at pre-vets.)
Do you have any advice for students, once accepted?
Understand your financial aid package to the best of your ability. Search for scholarships to help with this process. Only borrow what you need to and be very frugal. Also, visit the veterinary school if possible and tour the area so you know on day one where you will be and where you could potentially be living. Once you start classes work as hard as you can and always do your best.
Any study tips?
Do not procrastinate. Stay on top of the material and assignments when they are given. Veterinary school is much different than college or even a graduate program from what I have heard. You are taking multiple intensive classes at one time. If you are struggling, form a study group or contact the teacher (go to office hours) sooner rather than later. It is very easy to get behind and this typically does not end well.
Have there been any classes, within your DVM program that were especially relatable to your current position?
We had an excellent class starting from day one called Applications and Integrations. This was a case based class which really taught us critical thinking skills, researching important topics, and relating bloodwork back to abnormalities and specific clinical signs/cases.
What was the most challenging class, in your DVM program at Purdue University?
Histology. It seemed to make more sense after taking Pathology where we started to notice more abnormalities on the tissue level. I had never had a class like this previously so it was all brand new.
Was there anything in particular about your DVM program or Purdue itself that you liked?
As a Doctor, have there been any particular cases that were your favorite?
Pyometra, Foreign body removal, and/or Cystostomies—mainly surgical cases where you really can make a pet feel better quickly.
Do you have a specialty or are you working towards one?
I am interested in getting certified by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management.
What has been your most challenging case?
Usually internal medicine cases. Especially when multiple diagnostics are needed to find a diagnosis but the owners do not have those funds. Addisonian crisis can be very challenging.
Do you frequently have to research cases, on off hours?
Usually, I research difficult internal medicine cases both on and off hours. I also contact local referral clinic for more information or potential referral for further advanced diagnostics to aid in the case.
Have you read or listened to anything worth sharing (doesn’t have to be Vet related)? (articles, podcasts, books)
There are a lot of great veterinary resources out there now! VetFolio, Clinician’s Brief, VETgirl, Pet Poison Helpline or ASPCA website for toxins, Veterinary Practice News, American Veterinarian, & Banfield State of Pet Health.
Do you have any last words of wisdom?
You have to believe in yourself and believe that anything is possible. If your goal and passion is to attend veterinary school then you cannot let anything or anyone deter you or get in your way. Once you have achieved that goal continue to pursue higher and higher goals. Never stop learning!
How can people find you? (Social media or email)
If getting into Purdue or any other veterinary medicine program is your dream, check out our other interviews. We have featured students and Doctors from Cornell, Ross, University of Florida, Lincoln Memorial University, WSU, Western, and much more.