The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine Has a Unique Curricula Structure.
The University of Missouri vet students will experience high tech computer-based classrooms and labs during years one and two. Years three and four will focus on clinical classrooms and instruction focusing on the areas of cardiology, community medicine, dentistry, emergency and critical care, equine medicine and surgery, food animal medicine and surgery, neurology, neurosurgery, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedic and soft-tissue surgery, and reproduction.
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If you are thinking about applying to one of the 30 US veterinary schools, they all have different requirements. Some schools require microbiology and some nutrition but a few don’t require either. This book will lay it all out for you in a comprehensive guide. Check it out here: Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements (VMSAR)
Name, veterinary school attended, and year that you started.
My name is Riley Newson and I attend the University of Missouri. I started school in the fall of 2015.
Who are the animals that you currently share your life with?
I have two cats, Finn and Phoebe. I always thought that I preferred dogs, but they convinced me that I am actually a “cat person!”
If you have pets living with you at the University of Missouri, how do you balance caring for them with classes?
Because they are cats, they are pretty self-sufficient. I do feel guilty leaving them for 12 hours at a time when I am in clinics, but I try to make up for it with extra snuggles on the weekends.
Do you think there were any specific experiences or items on your application that helped to strengthen it?
I participated in two student research projects in undergrad – both involved working with capuchin monkeys. I know that seemed to impress the admissions committee.
Where did you attend undergrad and what was your major?
I attended Trinity University (in San Antonio, Texas). I majored in Neuroscience.
Did you apply for vet school after, or during your Bachelor’s education?
I applied after – I actually took two gap years, and I feel like they really gave me an advantage once I entered vet school. I got a lot of real-world experience that shaped my attitude and perspective for the better.
Did you attend grad school?
At what age did you first apply to vet school?
How many schools/application cycles did you apply to before being accepted?
I applied to 3 schools, but I was accepted during my first application cycle.
Were you waitlisted at any schools?
How many schools invited you for an interview?
Two schools – Kansas State and the University of Missouri.
How many of those gave you an acceptance letter?
If you were accepted to more than one school, what were some reasons for your choice of school?
It was a difficult decision because I felt like both programs were pretty comparable, but it eventually came down to which school offered me in-state tuition. Because I’m a Missouri resident, I ended up choosing Mizzou.
Do you remember any specifically challenging interview questions?
One of my interviewers at the University of Missouri mentioned that I had played lacrosse in high school and asked me if I knew where the lacrosse hall of fame was located. I had no idea, but I didn’t let it fluster me (I think it was a test to see if I could handle being caught off guard).
What was your GPA (in undergraduate)?
What was your GRE score? (We have a related blog page on some helpful GRE tools, including some free ones that you can find here.)
I scored in the 74th percentile for verbal reasoning and in the 56th percentile for quantitative reasoning. I rocked the analytical writing section, but I don’t think vet schools even look at that.
How many extracurricular activities did you list on your application?
Oh, gosh – I have no idea… I know I had Irish Dance and lacrosse on there, a handful of honor societies, volunteering, and involvement in a couple of clubs.
Did you have exotic, large and small animal experience prior to getting into the University of Missouri?
More or less. I conducted a research project on capuchin monkeys, I interned at a horse rescue, and I worked at an animal shelter (and then later got a job at a small animal clinic). The bulk of my experience was small animal, though.
What types of paying jobs did you have before going to the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine?
I worked at an animal shelter as an adoption counselor and then was hired as a veterinary assistant at the same location. I also worked for a year at a corporate veterinary clinic as a veterinary assistant.
Did you volunteer? If so, where?
I volunteered at the San Antonio Humane Society in undergrad – I primarily walked dogs, but I also helped wash surgery packs and clean kennels in their vet clinic. The 3-month equine internship that I participated in was unpaid, so I’ll count that as volunteering as well.
How many people read your personal statement before submitting it?
I tried to get as many people to read it as I could! I asked my parents, the guy I was dating at the time, my colleagues at work – anyone who knew me relatively well that could offer me constructive criticism.
When did you decide to become a vet?
I wanted to be a vet all throughout my childhood, but I explored other career interests in high school and college. I thought that I wanted to be a marine biologist for awhile, and then I wanted to be a human physician or surgeon. I even reached a point where I wanted to be a psychologist. I finally returned to veterinary medicine around sophomore/junior year of undergrad. Little did I know, vet med combined all of my interests in one fantastic occupation – animals, surgery, and yes, even psychology!
Did you interview any vets before starting the application process? If so how did you approach them?
I found a nice doctor that I felt comfortable with at work, and I asked her a ton of questions. She was my go-to person for all things related to my application. We still keep in touch now that I’m in school – I consider her to be a trusted friend as well as a mentor.
Were you a member of any clubs at your undergraduate school? If so, which ones?
I was a most involved in Alpha Phi Omega (delta pi chapter), a co-ed service fraternity. I was also co-president of my school’s Neuroscience Club and I was a member of the Mortar Board Honor Society and the Delta Epsilon Iota Honor Society.
Did you join student clubs in your DVM program at the University of Missouri? If so, which ones? Were they helpful?
I did! I joined a ton of clubs at first, but once the course load got heavy, I narrowed it down to the Shelter Medicine Club, the Veterinary Business Management Association (VMBA), and the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Association (SCAVMA). All were helpful in their own ways, but VBMA and SCAVMA allowed me to attend a variety of different lunch-and-learn type events and hear advice from many well-respected veterinarians and business professionals. I highly recommend joining your school’s local chapter of VMBA and SCAVMA.
Who gave you your letters of recommendation? Did you know them well?
I received letters of recommendation from one of my undergraduate professors and two veterinarians that I worked for. I knew them all pretty well, and more importantly, they knew me! At least well enough to make an educated evaluation of my interests, skills, and my passion for veterinary medicine.
Did you find the application process stressful? Why or why not?
I wasn’t too stressed by the application process. It was a lot to complete, but I applied during one of my gap years so that I had a lot of time to focus on getting everything done.
Are you happy that you chose this career? What makes you most happy about this career choice?
Don’t get me wrong – this career path is exhausting, stressful, and extremely challenging. But I am SO happy that I chose veterinary medicine. I am an emotional and compassionate person, and I am also very intrinsically motivated and driven to help others. VetMed is a service-oriented profession that allows me to use creativity, knowledge, and empathy to provide care for both animals and their human counterparts. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
Do you have any advice for students, once accepted?
Perfection is the enemy. Don’t spend all of your time and energy trying to be perfect in all that you do, because that is just not physically possible in school. As stressful and fast-paced as veterinary classes can be, vet school actually taught me how to relax and how to be satisfied with “good enough.”
Any study tips?
Get enough sleep. I was very strict in enforcing my own bedtime, especially the night before exams (9:00pm, baby!). No matter how much you know, you won’t be able to perform if you’re physically and mentally exhausted. If I had to choose between sleeping or studying an extra hour (or two, or three), I would pick sleep every time.
What have been some of your favorite classes, within your DVM program at Mizzou?
I really enjoyed my first-year physiology class. I also liked parasitology, clinical pathology, ophthalmology, and small animal surgery.
What has been the most challenging class, in your DVM program at the University of Missouri, so far?
It’s probably a toss-up between pharmacology and theriogenology.
As a student, did you have to take out loans for your education? If so, are you concerned about the amount of debt you will have after graduation?
Yes and yes. It’s never fun to accrue debt. But I am confident in my ability to find a job after graduation, to negotiate a fair salary, and to live below my means. I think that by doing these things, I will be in a good place financially.
Is there anything in particular about your DVM program or the University of Missouri itself that you like?
The University of Missouri’s curriculum is split into two years of didactic classes and two years of clinics (compared to the traditional 3 years of classes and 1 year of clinics). I’m in my first year of clinics, and I have learned so much through the hands-on application of my classroom knowledge. I am confident that having that extra time in clinics will make me more confident and prepared to be a “real” veterinarian after graduation.
Does your school offer study/review sessions held by upper-class students?
Not really, but a lot of the upperclassmen tutor the first- and second-year students one-on-one. It’s a very supportive community, so it’s very easy to ask another student for help if it’s needed.
Do you have any advice for students thinking about attending your University?
This is a great program, and I’ve had a very positive experience. However, the best school for you is 1.) the one that accepts you, and 2.) the one that doesn’t completely break the bank. Just because Mizzou was the best school for me doesn’t mean that it’s the right fit for everyone. Do your research and talk to current students before you make your final decision!
At this point do you think you will have a specialty?
Probably not… I love the idea of general practice, not to mention the notion of paying off my loans sooner!
As a student have you had any challenging cases yet?
I just had one the other day. A patient came in with very generalized clinical signs – lethargy, inappetence, and behavioral changes. We ran a lot of diagnostic tests, and nothing was very conclusive. He ended up being transferred to the ICU overnight because he started deteriorating quickly. I went in the next day to check on him and discovered that he had cancer. That was difficult because I was very invested in that case and I felt connected to both the patient and the owner.
Did you work a paid job during vet school?
Yes, I did. I used to work every Saturday from 8am-12pm at a clinic in town. I eventually had to quit because my clinics schedule is so crazy. Currently, I am the student ambassador for a corporate veterinary clinic. I also have my own Etsy business where I make hand-stamped personalized stethoscope ID bands.
Have you read or listened to anything worth sharing?
I recently read an article that described a study looking at women’s brains as they age. Women who participated in moderate to intense physical activity several times a week were something like 50% less likely to develop dementia as they got older. It’s so hard to stay active in vet school, but exercise is so good for your body, your mood, and your brain.
Do you have any last words of wisdom?
Don’t lose touch with who you are when you start veterinary school. The coursework can consume you if you let it – but don’t forget that you are more than just a veterinarian in training (you might also identify as an artist, a musician, or a dancer). It is possible to work hard in school and remain true to who you are as an individual.
How can people find you?
My email address is Riley@journey-to-dvm.com (feel free to email me with questions!). You can also follow my blog at journey-to-dvm.com, follow me on Instagram at journey_to_dvm, or find me on facebook (Journey to DVM).