Kayla Mehan has been preparing for veterinary school almost her whole life! She has been gaining veterinary experience hours since she was 16 but believes it was the volunteer work that really made her application stand out. She got into LMU College of Veterinary Medicine on her 1st try and is almost a vet! She loves the Clinical Skills Program at LMU and small animal internal medicine is one of her favorite classes!
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Name, veterinary school attended, and year that you started.
Lincoln Memorial University, 2014
Who are the animals that you currently share your life with?
Bailey- 9 y/o F/S Black Lab
If you have pets living with you during vet school, how do you balance caring for them with classes?
Bailey is super laid back. She is fine with sleeping for 20 hours or going on a 5-mile hike. I have been very lucky in that regard. With that being said, I have always fostered throughout vet school up until clinical year (due to traveling). I was always able to balance studying with caring for both my personal pets and fosters.
Do you think there were any specific experiences or items on your application that helped to strengthen it?
I have worked at a vet clinic since I was 16- starting as a kennel assistant and working my way up from there, so I had plenty of veterinary experience hours. I have also volunteered with rescue groups since I was 15. Although I do feel that my veterinary experience hours did have an impact, I truly believe it was the volunteer time that stood out more during my interview for LMU.
Where did you attend undergrad and what was your major?
The University of Georgia- Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Science
Did you apply for vet school after, or during your Bachelor’s education?
During. I was accepted into LMU in October of 2013 and graduated from UGA in December of 2013.
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?
One application cycle- I applied to three schools: LMU, UGA, and Auburn. However, due to an application error, my UGA application was not considered for that year.
Were you waitlisted at any schools?
How many schools invited you for an interview?
How many of those gave you an acceptance letter?
If you were accepted to more than one school, what were some reasons in your choice of school?
Although I was not accepted to Auburn, I truly believe that LMU was the best place for me. The program is vastly different than other vet schools and it is geared more towards how I learn best.
Do you remember any specifically challenging interview questions?
The ethical questions are always challenging in my opinion. All you can do is answer them as honestly as possible, but it is completely up to the interviewer to interpret your response.
What was your GPA (in undergraduate)?
What was your GRE score?
How many extracurricular activities did you list on your application?
10- between volunteering with rescue groups, community involvement, and sports activities
Did you have exotic, large and small animal experience prior to applying to veterinary School?
Small Animal- tons. I began working at a small animal clinic when I was 16. I believe I logged somewhere over 8,000 hours for my application, between the various clinics I had worked out.
Large Animal- some. I shadowed an equine veterinarian for two days a week the semester prior to applications being due. I believe it was around 120 hours logged.
What types of paying jobs did you have before going to veterinary school?
- Triad Construction: 2 years, office work for my dad’s construction company
- Pump it Up: 6 months at an inflatable party zone for kids
- East Coweta Veterinary Hospital: 4 years- beginning as a kennel assistant and moving up to veterinary assistant
- Kayla Brooke’s Bark ‘n Board: self-employed pet-sitting business; began in 2012
- Banfield: 6 months as a veterinary assistant
- Family Friend: veterinary assistant; began in August 2013 and still fill in during summers and on holidays when able
Did you volunteer? If so, where?
Yes- I have always volunteered with rescue groups and shelters when I can. Before leaving for 4th year rotations, I was actively involved in the LMU-CVM’s Shelter Medicine Club as the Foster Program Coordinator and Vice-President. We primarily work with Bell County Animal Shelter in Pineville, KY. I still help my rescue group back home in Georgia when I am able.
How many people read your personal statement before submitting it?
One- my sister is a literary genius.
When did you decide to become a vet?
Once I immersed myself in veterinary and shelter medicine when I was 16, there was no doubt in my mind that this is what I wanted to do.
Did you interview any vets before starting the application process? If so how did you approach them?
I did speak with a few veterinarians prior to the application process. We were on friendly terms, so it was much less casual than an interview process.
Were you a member of any clubs at your undergraduate school? If so, which ones?
– UGA Student Ambassador
Did you join student clubs in your DVM program? If so, which ones? Were they helpful?
Yes, I was a member of many clubs- Shelter Medicine Club, Companion Animal Club, Emergency and Critical Care, Anatomy Club, and SCAVMA. I was mostly involved with the Shelter Medicine Club.
Who gave you your letters of recommendation? Did you know them well?
2 professors, 1 veterinarian, and 2 close friends/co-workers. I did know them all well. I knew both professors for approx. 2 years and the others I had known for much longer. My goal was to have representations from all aspects of my life- school, work, volunteer, and personal.
Did you find the application process stressful? Why or why not?
The application process was a little stressful, but I felt like everything was laid out pretty well. With that being said, I did not do everything correctly for my UGA application so maybe I should have been more stressed about it! (To eliminate the suspense, I submitted my GRE scores to the inappropriate code. I sent them to the UGA undergraduate application office as opposed to the vet school office and they wouldn’t accept them.)
Are you happy that you chose this career? What makes you most happy about this career choice?
I am extremely happy I have chosen this career. It’s a lot of hard work and there will definitely be some hard days, but the good ones will make it all worth it. I am ecstatic that I have been given the opportunity to follow my dreams!
Do you have any advice for students, once accepted?
My biggest advice is to enjoy your time between acceptance and starting school. Once school starts, it’s 4 years of a whirlwind that will absolutely fly by. So enjoy the time beforehand, and come ready to focus and work hard in August.
Any study tips?
Study tips are difficult because everyone learns so differently. My first semester was a bit rough because I didn’t have to study in undergrad. For the most part, I would cram the night before and do just fine on the exams. Vet school is definitely not like that. Everything is cumulative and you absolutely have to retain information. So my first semester was largely learning how to study. I personally learned that using PDF’s/electronic methods of studying was just not for me. Now I print everything out and make hand-written notes. I have probably killed an entire forest in the process and have a bookcase full of binders, but it worked for me!
What have been some of your favorite classes, within your DVM program?
For me, I have enjoyed the Clinical Skills portion of our curriculum the most. It allows for hands-on learning and helps relate everything from the classroom. As far as in the classroom, I would pick small animal internal medicine as one of my favorites.
What has been the most challenging class, in your DVM program so far?
Anatomy was the most challenging for me. I did not have an A&P course in my undergraduate career, but I think that definitely helped those that did. Part of the difficulty for me was that Anatomy started right off the bat and I was still in the phase of trying to learn how to study appropriately. (If you are taking a human anatomy A&P course, the Netter’s Anatomy Coloring Book deserves the 5 stars it earns from pre-med and pre-vet students) With that being said, it does come back in a repetitive fashion throughout the following years and starts to come together a lot more.
Note from the editor: For those overachievers: getting a headstart on your anatomy can be fun with this veterinary anatomy coloring book.
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- I actually just crunched the numbers for how much my loan payments will be each month. The number is insane. It is very easy to forget about the loans throughout school, but being close to graduation it is all coming back to haunt me! I guess the best advice is to live judiciously while in school so that the loan payments aren’t any more than they have to be. Even looking at the impending debt, I still wouldn’t change my choice for the world.
Is there anything in particular about your DVM program or the school itself that you like?
I love the Clinical Skills program. I am so much more of a hands-on learner, so this program has allowed me to excel more-so than I believe I could have done in a classroom. The unique curriculum of LMU is what drew me to apply in the first place and I have been very pleased at the outcome. I feel like these labs prepared me well for 4th year rotations from a clinical and technical standpoint.
Do you have any advice for students thinking about attending your University?
I absolutely love LMU. The faculty and staff are 100% supportive and invested in our success. They care about us personally and have adjusted the program based on our feedback to help make it even better.
At this point do you think you will have a specialty?
I have never considered specializing in the past, however, I was asked about doing an internship recently, which made me really consider the option. I am still on the fence about an internship, though.
As a student have you had any challenging cases yet?
Yes, I have seen many challenging cases since being on rotations. With each of these, there has been guidance and support along the way, which has helped a lot. I have never felt stranded on a case when I needed mentorship.
Did you work a paid job during vet school? If not did you know of anyone who did?
I did not with the exception of summers and holiday breaks. Props to the people that did! I will say that I probably could have worked a part-time job with the number of volunteer hours that I put in each week.
Do you have any last words of wisdom?
The best advice that I have is to think about your reputation from minute one. It starts with the interview and doesn’t stop from there. The vet community is very small and the “it’s all who you know” line is completely true. Form good relationships, help others when you can, and make a good impression- especially when out on rotations. You never know what opportunities will come up along the way or who you will run into again in the future!
How can people find you?
Facebook- Kayla Mehan