David’s Veterinary Assistant Job in College, Helped Give Him the Necessary Veterinary Experience Hours Required By VMCAS

 

David started out as a veterinary assistant in undergrad. Becoming a veterinary assistant was an important step in helping him gain the necessary veterinary experience that the VMCAS asks for. If you need help in finding a veterinary assistant job, definitely check out Indeed, they tend to have a lot of animal related jobs on their site. (especially veterinary assistant jobs)

 

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Name, veterinary school attended, and year that you started.

  • David Brekke, Lincoln Memorial University – College of Veterinary Medicine, 2015

Who are the animals that you currently share your life with?

  • Personally, I have a golden retriever named Odin that just turned 3 yesterday on the 23rd of January, and I also live with a black lab named Rhett who is owned by my roommate who is in the same vet school class as me. My wife and I have a rabbit that lives with her in Lexington named Thumper as well.

If you have pets living with you during vet school, how do you balance caring for them with classes?

  • I got Odin as a graduation/ getting in to vet school present for myself, and it was the best decision I made prior to coming to vet school. Having him with me as I go all the stress of studying, tests and planning for the future, he is always there to provide relief and a distraction from it all. Caring for him and balance it all fell in to sync quite easily. It gives me a reason to get out of the study room and come home for  a break, and also he makes a great test dummy for practicing physical exams.

 

David’s dream of becoming a vet began in second grade! He now atttends LMU and is well on his way to earning a DVM degree!

 

Do you think there were any specific experiences or items on your application that helped to strengthen it?

  • Personally, I didn’t have the strongest grade point average, but that was ok. I made up for it with lots of veterinary and animal experience. I went to Berry College for my Bachelors degree. They have a pretty strong animal science program, and a work placement program for all of the students. Through the work placement I got the opportunity to spend 4 years working on a beef cattle operation where I probably worked 20 hours a week during the school year and 40 hours per week over the summers. Also in my junior year I got a job as a veterinary assistant at a local veterinary clinic. That was where I got my first vet experiences. So I worked at both the vet clinic and the beef cattle operation for my last two years of undergrad. Needless to say, I worked a lot. 6 days a week on most weeks and about 2 Sundays a month. That was what really strengthened my application. Also through all that work it gave me stories for my personal statement on the application and for the interview process.

Where did you attend undergrad and what was your major?

  • I attended Berry College, a small liberal arts school in Rome, Georgia. My major was animal science with a minor in chemistry.

Did you apply for vet school after, or during your Bachelors education?

  • I applied during my senior year and the summer before.

Did you attend grad school?

  • I did not attend  graduate school prior to vet school.

At what age did you first apply to vet school? 

  • I was 21 when I first applied.

How many schools/application cycles did you apply to before being accepted?

  • I applied to 4 schools; Auburn, Georgia, Florida, and LMU. I only went through 1 application cycle.

Were you waitlisted at any schools?

  • No I didn’t get waitlisted at any schools.

How many schools invited you for an interview? 

  • I was only invited to interview at LMU.

How many of those gave you an acceptance letter?

  • LMU was the only school to give me an acceptance letter

If you were accepted to more than one school, what were some reasons in your choice of school?

  • Unfortunately, no I was only accepted to LMU following the interview. The other schools denied me, but that was ok. I contemplated going through another cycle after retaking some classes to make my application stronger, but I found a fit at LMU their approach to education was something I was used to from undergrad. They have a very hands on approach to education.

Do you remember any specifically challenging interview questions?

  • The main goal of the interview, or at least what I got from it, was to find out who I was as a person. Most of the questions were based on me and my experiences. One interview question had to do with something that I had to overcome, and what I  learned from it. So as long as you are able to answer those types of questions, they are not going to be especially challenging.

What was your GPA (in undergraduate)?

  • I believe it was a 3.3

What was your GRE score?

  • I think my GRE score was 309 I believe.

How many extracurricular activities did you list on your application?

  • I’m not sure how many extracurricular activities I put on my application. I was in quite a few clubs in undergrad, but the main thing I did was work.

Did you have exotic, large and small animal experience prior to applying to veterinary School?

  • I had both large and small animal experience prior to applying.

What types of paying jobs did you have before going to veterinary school? 

  • I got paid to work at two places. A beef cattle operation and the veterinary clinic as a veterinary assistant.  I also had a job on the side reffing and scoring intramural games.

Did you volunteer? If so, where? 

  • I didn’t really volunteer anywhere, didn’t have the time for it during undergrad unfortunately.

How many people read your personal statement before submitting it?

  • I had 3 people read my personal statement. The first to read it was my girlfriend, now wife, who proof read it and fixed the grammatical and syntax errors, then I had my advisor at school read it along with the veterinarian who was at school.

When did you decide to become a vet?

  • I first knew I wanted to be a vet in second grade. I’m not one that quits on anything so I just kept with the dream, and it has been quite fulfilling to say the least.

Did you interview any vets before starting the application process? If so how did you approach them? 

  • I didn’t talk to any prior to starting the application, but as I was going through it I definitely bent the ear of all the vets I worked with at the clinic.

Were you a member of any clubs at your undergraduate school? If so, which ones?

  • I  was a member of block and bridle, pre vet, and campus outreach mainly.

Did you join student clubs in your DVM program? If so, which ones? Were they helpful?

  • At vet school I joined AABP, the bovine practitioners club, SAVMA, which is the student chapter of AVMA at the school, and surgery club. I was in AAEP the equine practitioners club for two years. I find the clubs very helpful. They provide you with opportunities that you don’t get in the class room through wet labs, and guest speakers. And as a bonus most of them have free meals during their meetings.

I bet working as a veterinary assistant helped with your letters of rec! Who gave you your letters of recommendation? Did you know them well?

  • For letters of recommendation I had my boss from the beef cattle ranch (non-vet), the practice owner (vet),  manager (non-vet), and one of the assistant vets write them. Becoming a veterinary assistant definitely helped me gain really good letters of recommendations. I also had the veterinarian at my school who happened to be one of my professors write one. I knew them all quite well. If you want them to write you a true recommendation, they should know you pretty well!

Did you find the application process stressful? Why or why not?

  • I am just the slightest bit of a procrastinator, so I waited a bit to get all the pieces of the application together, but I didn’t find the process stressful, because it is so well constructed the VMCAS. So It’s easy to know what you have to complete and to go back and check what you have already done.

Are you happy that you chose this career? What makes you most happy about this career choice?

  • I am extremely happy I chose this career. Veterinary medicine is the greatest, not only because you are able to help animals, but also because of all the great people you get to meet and know. It’s a very small community relatively and for the most part everyone is very helpful. Plus, you get to work with cute animals!

Do you have any advice for students, once accepted?

  • Once accepted, celebrate. That is quite an achievement, but be ready to work, because getting in is hard enough, but its only the beginning.

Any study tips? 

  • I’m not a very good studier, but the best tip I have is to study with a good group of friends. This makes it a lot easier. Veterinary medicine is somewhat of a team sport and we are all here and need to help each other where we can.

What have been some of your favorite classes, within your DVM program?

  • My favorite classes would be small animal medicine and surgery. I also enjoyed physiology because I like knowing how things work.

What has been the most challenging class, in your DVM program so far?

  • The most challenging class and I bet its true for a lot of vet students was anatomy.  It was two semesters and unrelenting. The hardest part was all the memorization.

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?

    • I took at all the loans I was offered for vet school because that was my only means of paying for it, so the final total will be quite a lot. I am worried and not worried at the same time. Yes it is a lot of money and may be trying to pay back, but the way I like to look at it is that I’m not the first student to have this kind of debt and a lot of people have been able to pay it off so if they can do it so can I.

Is there anything in particular about your DVM program or the school itself that you like?

  • The best thing about LMU and what really drew me to it was the hands on approach to learning.  At LMU they have you start clinical procedures from day one with the standard physical exam to actual live surgery in our first semester of third year. Also the fourth year is a clinical rotation year, where we have 12, 4 week blocks that we go out into the world of veterinary medicine and learn firsthand.

Do you have any advice for students thinking about attending your University?

  • I’m not sure about advice, I guess if you are thinking about attending LMU, make sure it is for you. It’s quite a rural area so if that’s not your thing or you need a city atmosphere to be happy it may be tough for you.  Knoxville is only an hour away if you don’t mind driving. If you do like the outdoors and hiking and stuff like that then it is a great place. We have a national forest in our backyard.

Since you started out as veterinary assistant and worked at a cattle ranch at this point do you think you will have a specialty?

  • As of right now I was to specialize in surgery.

As a student have you had any challenging cases yet?

  • No not as student, most of our cases are straight forward spays and neuters right now. But next year in my fourth year I will see a more diverse case load.

Did you work a paid veterinary assistant job, or any job for that matter during vet school? If not did you know of anyone who did?

  • I haven’t had a job during vet school, but I know a couple people who bartended a couple days out of the week. You don’t have time for any real jobs, studying is your job in veterinary school.

Do you have any last words of wisdom?

  • I guess the last thing I would say to student who is applying or just starting, is enjoy the ride. Yeah, it’s going to be stressful and somedays it might seem like nothing is going to work, but it does and it is a great ride.

How can people find you?

 

READ MORE INTERVIEWS WITH STUDENTS WHO STARTED OUT WORKINIG AS A VETERINARY ASSISTANT BELOW

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