S1E1: Piloting Through The Years
Guests: Amanda Brezecki (℅ 2021), Erica Castaneda (℅ 2022), Tyler Charbonneau (℅ 2020)
In the introductory episode of The PreVet Pawscast, Alex is joined by three CVM students, a first-year, second-year and third-year. After a brief interview overview, Erica explains what first-year is like and how different it is compared to undergrad. She has gotten involved in campus and has even executed her first neuter. Amanda lets us know that second year is like “drinking from a fire hose” and the differences between first and second year. Check out the CVM schedule to see the differences. Tyler walks us through life in clinics! Students experience all the small animal hospital and large animal hospital has to offer.
All CVM students need to adapt to studying for different courses, as UF CVM has a unique curriculum schedule and courses move much faster than in undergrad. We learn the difference between open-ended and closed-ended questions and how veterinary students must be ready to communicate with their clients. Students learn communication skills in the clinical skills lab.
Worried you’ll lose your personal life while in vet school? Our students chat about how they still balance going out, exercising, playing in an adult kickball league and romance. They let us know what they wish they would have known before veterinary school, like: “make sure to take the time to build relationships” and “you’re no longer studying for a test, you’re studying for your career.” Finally, students give analogies for what vet school is like. Tyler has a great quote about clinics: “Imagine starting a new job every two weeks.”
S1E2: The Veterinary Fruit Salad- Exploring Diversity
Guests: Dr. Jaron Jones
In this episode, Alex speaks with Dr. Jaron Jones about the meaning and importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in veterinary medicine.
Dr. Jones explains why diversity is important to him and its ability to bring new perspectives into veterinary medicine. He states how diversity can “create new global solutions” through the different experiences and wide array of viewpoints that everyone has.
Dr. Jones also brings up the point that clients come from a range of backgrounds and the importance of having a diverse group of veterinarians that can cater to the overall client population. He mentions that in the application process, many students try to explain their diversity. However, these applicants could instead explain “why diversity is important and how they can be an ally for diversity.”
Everyone has unique experiences, and Dr. Jones advises that students research the meaning of diversity to help them understand what makes them diverse if they are struggling. Dr. Jones recommends that instead of making assumptions about someone’s situation, you should ask them more questions and learn effective communication. He mentions how you should always “lead with intent.”
Lastly, Dr. Jones states that diversity is more of a “fruit salad” rather than a “melting pot” because it is important that everyone stays true to their identities and embraces their differences.
S1E3: Senior Year
Guests: Katie Cardenas (℅ 2019)
In this episode, Alex talks to a fourth-year CVM student about her senior year and overall veterinary school experience.
Katie mentions some of her undergrad experiences and how they were beneficial to her success in veterinary school. She states how a wide range of extracurriculars helped her in finding interests, learning time management, and making connections.
At the University of Florida, the CVM makes it a point for all students accepted to complete their DVM degrees. Katie was surprised at how many people had to repeat a year of school to graduate. Katie talks about how her favorite memories were the ones “spent with her classmates outside of school.” She states how she was able to maintain a balance between her schoolwork and social life while at UF.
While in the job search, Katie advises that students “rely on mentors for advice” with help in finding a career. In the interview for her current position, she was asked about her curriculum, goals for the next five years, and areas of interest.
Katie’s last words of advice are to “enjoy the time you have at veterinary school,” “do things that you are truly interested in” and “have an open mind.”
S1E4: Cutting Into The Heart of Veterinary Specialties
Guests: Dr. Alex Fox-Alvarez, Dr. Camden Rouben
In the fourth episode of season one, Alex brings on two veterinary specialists to discuss their education and specialties.
Dr. Fox-Alvarez, a soft-tissue surgeon, starts off by talking about his undergrad education. He majored in Zoology at the University of Florida and was accepted into UF CVM a year early. His early acceptance meant that he did not graduate with a bachelor’s degree.
Next, cardiologist Dr. Rouben discusses his path to UF CVM. He attended undergrad at Boston University and later got his DVM at Auburn University.
Dr. Rouben once hoped to become an equine veterinarian for racehorses. His advice to students is “if you believe you really are interested in something, I recommend immersing yourself in that culture to learn all of the ins and outs to truly determine if you love it.” He discusses the importance of expanding the diversity of your experiences to help you find your interests and boost your resume.
With a different approach to expanding veterinary experiences, Dr. Fox-Alvarez explains how his knowledge in all parts of general practice as a kennel technician, to radiology technician, and later a DVM bettered his understanding of veterinary medicine.
Want to specialize? Dr. Fox-Alvarez explains that a rotating internship can be the next step in specializing, where new DVMs “rotate through several different specialties” to find their interests. Dr. Rouben mentions that spending at least four years in general practice is also an option. He discusses how residencies are typically a three-year commitment that requires passing a general qualifier exam and later a specialty exam.
Dr. Rouben describes cardiologists as being “appreciative of physiology” and mentions the great work-life balance that he has with this specialty. Dr. Fox-Alvarez says that soft-tissue surgeons enjoy working with their hands and applying their skills to different problems.
Lastly, both Dr. Rouben and Dr. Fox-Alvarez emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and discuss their ways in doing so.
S1E5: Let’s Get Sustainable
Guests: Bryce Talsma (℅ 2021)
In this episode, Alex talks with Bryce Talsma, a second-year UF CVM student, about how veterinary medicine relates to sustainability.
Bryce first mentions how she is an out-of-state student that went to a small college for undergrad, and later decided to attend UF for veterinary school.
Bryce describes sustainability as “how we are utilizing resources or doing things in a way to allow us to do it for a long period of time.” She discusses her experience in New Zealand learning about sustainability in a study abroad program.
In her vet school interview, Bryce was asked about her trip abroad and stood out because of her experience in a sustainability program. She advises students to do the things that they want to do in undergrad without worrying about how it will look on a vet school application to avoid having regrets.
To become more sustainable in your habits, Bryce recommends to “take small steps and think about what is realistic for you.” This relates to vet school because it will take small steps to build your resume and get involved.
Lastly, Bryce says that “if you want to implement change anywhere in life, it has to start with you caring enough to make some changes to start impacting the lives of others and having them make that change as well.”
S1E6: The Application Review
Guests: Arizona Spencer (℅ 2023)
Alex speaks with UF CVM student Arizona Spencer about the VMCAS application in this episode.
Arizona mentions how she turned in her vet school application on the day it was due, showing that there is no preferential treatment for when a student submits their application.
There are six sections of the VMCAS application. Arizona was able to check the boxes through paid experience as a cardiology technician at the UF Small Animal Hospital, extracurriculars, research, veterinary experience and volunteer experience.
Arizona talks about how her time as a cardiology technician was able to show her what the UF Animal Hospital was like and learn from the clinical students about the reality vet school.
To prepare for the essay portion of the VMCAS, Arizona advises to create a Google Doc with the prompts listed on it to jot down any thoughts you may come across during the day. Alex mentions “as many times as you guys can relate human to animal interaction the better” when discussing the essay portion.
Arizona discusses who she chose to write her letters of recommendation and why.
Lastly, Arizona advises applicants to breathe when applying to vet school because the process “gets overwhelming very quickly” and to fill out the VMCAS application little steps at a time.
S1E7: Gimme Shelter (Medicine Certificate)
Guests: Dr. Cynda Crawford
In this episode, Alex speaks with Dr. Cynda Crawford, a shelter medicine veterinarian.
Dr. Crawford talks about her time as a private practice veterinarian for 12 years then her faculty position at the UF vet school. She says how there is “not just one pathway to becoming a veterinarian.” Dr. Crawford describes shelter medicine as a way of helping animals in the shelter receive medical care by treating illnesses, injuries, or behavior issues prior to being adopted.
Dr. Crawford says that students going into shelter medicine should be prepared to see many canine distemper cases, canine parvovirus, and feline viral respiratory diseases. She mentions how many animals given up to the shelter are there due to behavioral issues.
Next, Dr. Crawford describes the daily life of a shelter medicine veterinarian. She discusses the variety of cases seen each day and describes shelter medicine veterinarians as “first responders for community emergencies and disasters that impact animals.” Dr. Crawford points out how UF is the only school that offers a certificate in shelter medicine that “consists of courses and hands-on training in the shelter itself.”
Lastly, Dr. Crawford discusses ways that shelter medicine veterinarians have been decreasing the amounts of animals that end up in the shelter over the years.
S1E8: Not-so-Risky Business Management Certificate
Guests: Dr. Martha Mallicote
In this episode, Alex talks with Dr. Mallicote, a clinical assistant professor at UF and Veterinary Practice Management Certificate director.
UF has four certificates offered for veterinary students. Dr. Mallicote mentions how these certificates are low-cost and exclusive to UF.
Dr. Mallicote speaks about her untraditional pathway into veterinary medicine. She was not planning to go to veterinary school while in undergrad, but later decided veterinary medicine was what she wanted to do post-graduation.
Dr. Mallicote explains the importance of business certificates in veterinary medicine. Even if a student is not planning to open their own practice, these certificates make for a more “marketable employee.” Coursework for the business certificate usually starts in the third year of vet school. Dr. Mallicote also touches on the clerkship opportunity between the third and fourth years of vet school that the certificate offers.
Next, Dr. Mallicote talks about networking. Her advice is to simply “have a conversation with someone” rather than bragging about your skills to “find a similar interest to have a much more powerful, long-term effect.”
Lastly, Dr. Mallicote reiterates the significance of non-veterinary aspects in veterinary medicine to expand your training and well-roundedness as a practitioner.
S1E9: Under the Sea with the Aquatic Animal Health Certificate
Guests: Dr. Iske Larkin
Alex speaks with Dr. Larkin about the Aquatic Animal Health Certificate in this episode.
Dr. Larkin first speaks about her unconventional direction into veterinary medicine from an art major to graduating with a psychology degree.
As a student learning about aquatic animals in vet school, Dr. Larkin mentions how you will not be putting hands on marine animals until later becoming a resident or intern. Dr. Larkin advises prospective aquatic animal students to be “broad in their interests because there are very few jobs just working with marine mammals.”
Dr. Larkin talks about courses in the Aquatic Animal Health Certificate, such as: Sea Vet, Diseases of Warmwater Fish and Topics in Aquatic Animal Health. Next, she mentions internships and externships that are available to students.
Dr. Larkin advises students that hope to specialize in aquatics to try professional school and graduate programs to “pursue interests specific to them.”
According to Dr. Larkin, a benefit of attaining the Aquatic Animal Health Certificate is “getting a better sense of how diseases and health impacts can transfer from one species to another.”
S1E10: Take a Bite Out of the Food Animal Medicine Certificate
Guests: Dr. Owen Rae
Dr. Rae first talks about his undergraduate studies in Utah, DVM degree from Colorado State University and residency experience at the University of California Davis where he got a master’s degree.
Dr. Rae describes a food animal as an animal that produces food for human consumption. He explains that food animal care refers to “helping the whole group or population of animals to be healthy so that they can be productive as a food source.” In food animal medicine, One Health is involved to ensure the health of the animals along with the safety of products. Misconceptions in food animal medicine include the rumors regarding antibiotics and hormones in food sources, according to Dr. Rae.
The Food Animal Certificate was created to give students a hands-on opportunity to work with food animals early on in their veterinary education. This certificate involves classroom studies, wet labs, externships, and research experience.
Next, Dr. Rae explains that food animal veterinarians have few clients but large groups of patients. He mentions that food animal medicine requires a commute to each client and that some patients are more regular than others, sometimes requiring a visit every one to three weeks.
Lastly, Dr. Rae advises students that it “would be meaningful for them if they sought out an opportunity to work with food animals.”
S1E11: The Job Search
Guests: Katelyn Jerles
In this episode, Alex talks with UF’s Assistant Director for Career Services, Katelyn Jerles.
Katelyn is a counselor for freshmen to recently graduated students at UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She discusses things such as time management, budgeting, and career preparation with first-year students. Later, she helps second-year students with their rigorous academic schedule, clinical preparations, and resume building. Third and fourth-year students work on solidifying their career goals and finding job opportunities.
Katelyn explains that the current job market for veterinarians is good because people are continuously getting “more extensive and more intensive care for their pets.”
For UF students, Katelyn explains that many students go into private practice upon graduation and about 30% go into internship programs.
Katelyn encourages students to utilize their resources and “bounce ideas off of and get confirmation that they are moving in the right direction” from their mentors or counselors. Alex and Katelyn both talk about why a third-party counselor or advisor can be beneficial for students to talk to and get an unbiased outlook on veterinary medicine.
Katelyn urges students to be open with their options and make meaningful decisions when it comes to time management.
Lastly, Katelyn talks about great resources for pre-vet and veterinary students, such as the AVMA, Bureau of Labor Statistics and reading job descriptions to prepare and learn about careers in veterinary medicine.
S1E12: Getting Under the Skin with Dermatology
Guests: Dr. Dunbar Gram
In this episode, Alex speaks with Dr. Gram about the Dermatology Service at the UF Animal Hospital.
Dr. Gram mentions how dermatology typically deals with skin, allergies and GI problems.
At UF, Dr. Gram talks about the classes and hands-on clinical rotations that the dermatology department offers.
Dr. Gram explains that there are two major types of allergy tests: blood testing and intradermal skin testing. When an animal is allergic to something in a skin test, they will have a reaction in the area where the injection was made. Dr. Gram touches on the diversity of animals he has seen and tested as a dermatologist.
Next, Dr. Gram talks about food allergies and how animals are commonly allergic to “the proteins in the foods, not the grain.” While discussing grain-free diets, Dr. Gram says that his “goal as a veterinarian is to educate [clients] on both the short-term needs and long-term needs” of their pets.
In his role on the admissions committee at UF, Dr. Gram explains how an ideal DVM candidate has decent grades and a well-rounded background. He highlights the holistic application process that UF offers by mentioning how overcoming a set-back shows resilience since “life and veterinary medicine throw you curveballs.”
S1E13: The Beautiful Scope of Clinical Pathology
Guests: Dr. Sarah Beatty and Dr. Mary Leissinger
In this episode, Alex talks with two clinical assistant professors of clinical pathology, Dr. Beatty and Dr. Leissinger.
Dr. Beatty first mentions how veterinary medicine is becoming more specialized and how true mixed-animal veterinarians are lessening. She talks about how pathology was a way for her to “maintain species diversity and exposure to all animals.”
Dr. Leissinger explains that her motivation to becoming a pathologist was to understand “why disease happens and diagnosing” those diseases.
Next, Dr. Leissinger provides us with a basic definition of pathology: the study of disease. Pathologists are focused on determining the disease that can later be treated in other services.
There are two types of pathology. Clinical pathology deals with blood, tissues and urine while anatomic pathology deals with slides from either live or deceased animals through biopsies or necropsies.
Dr. Beatty discusses how pathologists must have sufficient written and verbal skills to ensure “what you’re seeing as a pathologist is accurately communicated to your client, who is a veterinarian.”
Dr. Beatty talks about how pathology is taught in veterinary school. The first year is focused primarily on physiology, second year is concentrated on blood chemistries, while third and fourth years are centered around cytology.
Dr. Leissinger mentions how clinical pathology is special because it “often gives an answer the same day” regarding a diagnosis.
Dr. Leissinger advises students to “be interested in different things and try everything.” Dr. Beatty mentions the beauty of veterinary medicine is the “endless path and flexibility that it offers.”
S1E14: Integrative Medicine – Let’s Do All the Things!
Guests: Dr. Lindsay Hochman
In this episode, Alex talks with Dr. Hochman, a clinical lecturer of integrative medicine at UF’s Small Animal Hospital.
Dr. Hochman first talks about her path into veterinary medicine. She explains how the prerequisites for veterinary school compared to medical school are very similar, so students do not need to make a career decision in their early years of undergraduate school.
Dr. Hochman touches on internships and residencies and talks about her experience as an integrative medicine intern.
According to Dr. Hochman, integrative medicine at UF comprises nutrition, sports medicine and rehabilitation, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, acupuncture and more. She says that integrative medicine “uses complementary and alternative strategies in addition to conventional medicine to maximize an animal’s quality of life.”
Dr. Hochman talks about hydrotherapy in the integrative medicine department and how this is used for muscle building, joint range of motion and weight loss. Something else that can commonly be seen in this department are “doggles” to protect the animal during laser therapy.
Lastly, Dr. Hochman advises students to “keep an open mind with every rotation you go on” to find what they are truly passionate about and expand their veterinary knowledge.
S1E15: A Deeper Look at Veterinary Oncology
Guests: Dr. Stacey Fox-Alvarez
In this episode Alex speaks with Dr. Fox-Alvarez, a veterinary medical oncologist resident.
Dr. Fox-Alvarez talks about her undergraduate experience at the University of Alabama, her DVM degree at UF and rotating internship post-graduation.
Dr. Fox-Alvarez states that oncology is the study of cancer medicine and involves medical oncology along with cancer vaccines and immunotherapy, surgical oncology and radiation oncology. Dr. Fox-Alvarez talks about her residency in medical oncology that focuses on chemotherapy.
A student that would make a great oncologist needs to be “really open with patients and clients.” Due to the high cost of many treatment options, the options need to be explained thoroughly and have great justifications, according to Dr. Fox-Alvarez.
Dr. Fox-Alvarez says that she sees a lot of mass cell tumors, osteosarcoma, lymphoma, and melanoma in patients brought to the hospital, especially seen in large breed dogs. She states that “about 75% of the patients are dogs and about 25% are cats.”
Next, Dr. Fox-Alvarez talks about self-care as a veterinarian. Compassion fatigue, lack of intellectual confidence and problems with coworkers can lead to burnout and stress within the veterinary field. Dr. Fox-Alvarez advises students to “identify when you don’t feel good and identify what you’re trying to tell yourself.”
Lastly, Dr. Fox-Alvarez says that “you are your best teacher” and it can be helpful to use outside resources to expand your education and understanding of certain topics.
S1E16: How Do You Spell Ophthalmology?
Guests: Dr. Caryn Plummer
In this episode, Alex talks with Dr. Plummer, an associate professor of comparative ophthalmology.
Dr. Plummer first speaks about her time at Yale as an undergraduate student, a veterinary student at UF, her time in a surgical rotating internship at Virginia State University and residency at UF.
Dr. Plummer says that she was drawn to ophthalmology since it covers a wide range of species while combining both surgery and medicine.
Students who are detail-oriented and absorbent make the best ophthalmologists, according to Dr. Plummer.
Common conditions that Dr. Plummer sees in her work as an ophthalmologist include dry eyes, glaucoma, and cataracts. Dr. Plummer says that ophthalmologists use “indirect methods” to examine animal vision, such as obstacle courses. She states that the “main reason that people come to see the ophthalmologist is because the eye has become a source of pain” in the animal.
According to Dr. Plummer, the ophthalmology department treats many horse patients with infections.
Lastly, Dr. Plummer advises listeners to “be a good student, get good grades and pay attention to your study habits.”
S1E17: Zoo Med!
Guests: Dr. Amy Alexander
In this episode Alex speaks with Dr. Alexander, a clinical assistant professor of zoological medicine at UF.
Dr. Alexander first talks about her undergraduate experience volunteering at the Zoo Med Department at UF, then about her time as a veterinary student at UF and later internships post-graduation.
Dr. Alexander says that pocket pets and exotic animals are becoming more common as patients in general practice. Most specialized zoological medicine classes can be taken after clinical rotations to learn more about these animals.
A fun fact about the UF Animal Hospital is that “it is one of the very few veterinary schools in the country that can safely house a large carnivore,” according to Dr. Alexander. She talks about the weekly schedules of the Zoo Med Department and the appointments that can be seen.
Job opportunities for students that go into internships and residencies in zoo med can be very competitive, but Dr. Alexander states how “there are so many aspects to zoological medicine” that can make the specialization great.
Dr. Alexander mentions how even in zoo med, people are the number one client from the curators, keepers and the public.
To Dr. Alexander, students who are adaptable would be best as veterinarians in zoo med. Lastly, she tells listeners that “there are endless options” on the path to zoo med.
S1E18: Sleep Tight with Anesthesia and Pain Management
Guests: Dr. Bonnie Gatson
In this episode, Alex speaks with Dr. Gatson, a clinical assistant professor in anesthesia and pain management.
Dr. Gatson starts off by talking about her time as a UF undergraduate student, a veterinary technician, and a veterinary student.
In Dr. Gatson’s words, veterinary anesthesia is the “use of different medications we can give animals in order for animals to not feel pain and be unconscious to allow appropriate muscle relaxation so that they can have different diagnostic and surgical procedures done without feeling pain.” Math is heavily involved in anesthesia for proper dosage.
A good anesthesiologist can “handle stressful situations with a clear head.” There can be a lot of downtime as an anesthesiologist, but a stressful situation can occur at any moment if something goes wrong during a procedure.
Dr. Gatson mentions how each animal is different to anesthetize. She chats about some of her favorite cases, such as intubating a tiger.
Lastly, Dr. Gatson tells listeners to “always be open minded during anesthesia training, always be curious and never stop learning.”
S1E19: Say Cheese with Primary Care and Dentistry
Guests: Dr. Amy Stone
In this episode Alex talks with Dr. Stone, a clinical assistant professor in small animal clinical science and the service chief of primary care and dentistry at UF.
Dr. Stone went to FSU as an undergraduate, attended UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine and did a post-doctorate in dentistry at UF.
To Dr. Stone, rotations in primary care prepare students to become a general practice veterinarian. Dr. Stone’s job in the primary care department is to treat illnesses, injuries and maintain the everyday well-being of pets through things such as vaccinations, ensuring oral health and providing heartworm treatments.
Dr. Stone emphasizes the importance of communication in veterinary medicine since the human client is who describes who the animal interacts with, what they eat and what they do.
Physical exams of animals are “where you gain all of the information about where you want to target your diagnostics.” She mentions how companion animals are seen in her typical day in primary care.
Next, Dr. Stone talks about dentistry in veterinary medicine. She mentions how “about 80% of most animals by the age of two have periodontal disease,” which are affected by many things such as genetics and diet.
Dr. Stone says the best primary care and dentistry veterinarians “like people, like to educate and like a bit of variety.” She talks about the primary care training and how it begins in the first year of vet school and progresses through each year.
To prepare for vet school, Dr. Stone advises students to work in the service industry, focus on how they are communicating with others and research what makes a pet healthy.
S1E20: Saving the Day with the Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service Team
Guests: Brandi Phillips
In this episode Alex talks with Brandi Phillips, Animal Technical Rescue Branch Director for the UF Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service.
Brandi talks about how this service is responsible for disaster response and animal technical rescue. Disaster response involves teams of veterinarians who perform veterinary care in disaster situations such as wildfires, hurricanes, and manmade disasters. Animal technical rescue provides response and training for emergencies such as overturned trailers, sinkholes and “dramatic situations.”
DVM students go through “multi-day, operations level training to give students hands-on time with the equipment and be able to see and learn the techniques.” A fun part of the training is the rope-repelling.
Brandi talks about the importance of saving animals and mentions how the bond that people have with their pets is sometimes the only thing they have left after a disaster.
Students who can stay calm under pressure and can take care of themselves in a safe way would be best working in disaster response, according to Brandi. She says that in these situations, one must remember “someone else’s emergency is not your emergency.”
Brandi advises students to “say yes to weird things” because you never know what could be gained given that opportunity.
S2E1: AdMYTHssions Busters
Guests: Lynnette Chaparro
In the first episode of season two Alex talks with Lynnette Chaparro, Associate Director of Admissions at UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Lynnette says that the application cycle through VMCAS is nine months, and the application process takes almost a year to complete.
The first myth that Lynnette busts is students’ time to submit their application. Submitting an application early does not mean students have a better chance of acceptance.
Next, Lynnette mentions how it does not matter what undergraduate major a student is graduating with, as long as prerequisites are completed with a grade of a C or better.
The third myth that Lynnette talks about regards letters of recommendation. She says, “when you are looking for a reference, make sure they are comfortable writing the letter for you and that they have known you for a good solid time,” rather than focusing on their title.
Lynnette speaks about repeat applicants and mentions what it means for UF to have a holistic admissions process.
Diversity is the next topic. She says that everyone is diverse, and that can even be through “life experiences that you have had that make you unique.”
Lynnette tells listeners that the number of hours of experience is not as important as the quality of those experiences.
How many letters of recommendation do applicants need from a veterinarian? Lynnette says one reference from a veterinarian is enough, and a variety of references can tell more “about you as a person” to the admissions committee.
The last myth that Lynnette busts is regarding what got a student into veterinary school or what held them back from acceptance. She states how applicants must go to a pre-vet advisor to get the real reason concerning their acceptance status.
S2E2: Financial Literacy
Guests: Lana Marshall
In this episode, Alex talks with the financial aid advisor at UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Lana Marshall.
Lana mentions how the cost of attending the UF College of Veterinary Medicine can be about $50,000 per year for in-state students. Financial aid includes student loans, work-study programs, scholarships, grants, and general money that it takes to attend school. She advises everyone to apply for FAFSA to be eligible for scholarships.
You may be wondering, what is the difference between different types of financial aid? Lana explains the difference between loans, scholarships, and grants. In addition, Lana says how loans can be borrowed up to the cost of attendance and mentions how UF does not certify private loans.
Lana emphasizes the importance of “knowing what you’re doing when you’re requesting or receiving loans.” Her advice is to set a budget and plan out your expenses before attending vet school. What if you set a budget, take out a loan, and do not need all the money you borrowed? Lana explains how students can return the surplus money.
Scholarships available at UF are non-CVM sponsored scholarships, need-based scholarships, and merit-based scholarships.
Lana talks about how students qualify for unsubsidized loans, which are “loans that accrue interest the moment that the funds are dispersed to you.” She advises students to start paying back loans while in school.
Lana’s last words of advice are to “send voluntary payments to cut down debt substantially” and “always make more than the minimum monthly payment.”
S2E3: Smiling Through Vet School
Guests: Lindsay Culbertson (℅ 2022)
In this episode, Alex talks with Lindsay about 12 ways to stay happy in vet school. Lindsay mentions how she was not always happy in vet school and started focusing on changing her habits one step at a time to better her time at school. Lindsay’s first thing to brighten her day is to keep a motivational sticky note on her mirror to see in the morning. Alex says to “start your day with intention.”
Next, Lindsay says how meal prepping has saved her time, helped her save money, and allowed her to eat healthier by avoiding fast food. Faith is another important factor in Lindsay’s life that keeps her happy and advises other students to find a bigger purpose to keep them joyful. She mentions how music and podcasts allow you to “take your mind off of the day” and help her stay happy.
Schedules are given to vet students before the start of the semester, and Lindsay advises students to find a time after their exams to take a short vacation or break for something to look forward to. She recommends students to “never feel guilty about seeing other students doing work” because you know what you need for your productivity and happiness. For Lindsay, yoga is a way to stay in shape and have a mental break. After a long day of school, she always sits with her cats on the couch to think back on her day and take a moment to relax.
What if you don’t have time for the gym or watch your favorite Netflix show? Lindsay says how she runs on the treadmill and watches her show to pair her activities. She likes to schedule time with friends on her calendar to “feel productive by checking off the to-do list” and maintain her relationships during vet school.
Lindsay’s most significant piece of advice is to start these habits now so you can “start applying them on the first day of vet school.” Alex recommends listening to “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” for more tips on establishing healthy, happy habits.
S2E4: The Foundation of General Practice—Clinical Skills
Guests: Dr. Julie Wuerz
In this episode, Alex talks with Dr. Wuerz, a clinical assistant professor at the UF Small Animal Hospital who helps students learn clinical skills.
Dr. Wuerz talks about her time in undergrad along with her two-year gap between undergrad and vet school. She talks about how gap years can help students develop real-world practicality.
Next, Dr. Wuerz speaks about how some clients in private practice may have a low budget and the importance of veterinarians doing the best they can in all situations. To Dr. Wuerz, the most important technical skills needed by veterinarians are verbal communication, body language, written communication, and the ability to complete a full physical exam safely.
Experiences that Dr. Wuerz has had, such as bad reactions to diagnoses, have helped her not take things personally and improve her communication skills. She says no matter how upset a client may be, it is still her job to make sure owners are “hearing and internalizing what she is saying and not just listening and glossing over the information.”
Dr. Wuerz’s biggest message to students is to “have fun with what you’re doing” to learn more and enjoy your time.
S2E5: Advice for Undergrads
Guests: Amie Imler
In this episode, Alex speaks with Amie about preparing for vet school.
Amie first talks about the animal sciences major at UF, which focuses mainly on livestock animals and provides students with a lot of hands-on experience.
The animal sciences degree also exposes students to several opportunities such as extracurriculars, internships, research, and more. Amie says students should utilize their advisors and plan out their courses to make sure prerequisites are met and find when classes are offered. “Get as much diversity as you can” in your animal experience to stretch your comfort zone and expose yourself to more thoughts and connections. Amie also tells listeners to set boundaries when participating in extracurriculars and to realize the importance of “quality over quantity” before overcommitting in undergrad.
In undergrad, Amie advises students to realize the impression that they are leaving on their professors and peers to make strong relationships for their current well-being in school and their future connections. She says to “think of every interaction as an opportunity.”
Amie tells pre-vet students that school will be difficult and there are other career options for students to work with animals that don’t require them to be a veterinarian.
Lastly, Amie says that “the same things that drive you to want to be a veterinarian can also be a good fit for other careers.”
S2E6: Failing the NAVLE and Getting Over Yourself
Guests: Dr. James Gillen (℅ 2019)
In this episode, Alex talks with Dr. Gillen about overcoming failure.
Dr. Gillen first speaks about his undergrad experience at FSU and the jobs he held during his three gap years before vet school.
Alex and Dr. Gillen talk about the NAVLE and how to prepare for the exam properly. Dr. Gillen tells listeners to avoid waiting until the last minute to study because you can’t prepare for the obstacles that appear during that time. Dr. Gillen says how the results of this exam are sent to your student email, and if you don’t pass, you might have to retake this exam during clinics–which can be difficult and expensive.
Studying advice that Dr. Gillen gives for students is to “take as many practice tests” as possible and “practice the time management aspect” of the exam.
Looking back on the exam, Dr. Gillen says that failing the NAVLE on his first attempt did not significantly impact his life. He says to “get over yourself” and realize that no one else cares about your results.
Lastly, Alex and Dr. Gillen say how failure can be a humbling experience connecting you with others.
S2E7: The Island Schools
Guests: Blake Lucas
In this episode, Alex talks with Blake Lucas about his experience at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. Blake says before vet school, he played college football and knew that he wanted to work with animals from his background living on a farm. Blake says he learned to be self-driven while developing leadership and time-management skills as a college athlete.
He talks about how he applied to six vet schools and was only accepted to Ross University on St. Kitts Island. Blake did not want to reapply to vet school and delay his schooling, making the offshore school the best option for him.
What is it like living outside of the United States? Blake says how one of his “favorite parts about St. Kitts is that it is not very ‘Americanized,’ so you can get the whole Caribbean experience there.” He says that students should expect a different lifestyle living on the island, such as planning for grocery restocking day. He says that some of the biggest inconveniences of being at Ross is the faulty electricity and water supply issues that can sometimes occur; but this made him a more adaptable person.
According to Blake, a benefit of attending Ross is that students graduate in three and a half years compared to the four-year programs in the United States.
To decide where they want to attend clinics, students speak with advisors at Ross and choose four schools that they would like to attend. He says that his time on clinics was the “fastest year of his life” because he had to catch up with students that have been using UF software and had already adjusted to the small animal hospital over the past eight months.
Blake mentioned how he decided to take the NAVLE after he finished clinics, which allowed him to study more and gain experience prior to the exam from clinics.
Time at Ross University gave Blake a new outlook on life and mentions how he was a minority in St. Kitts, allowing him to “connect with clients a little more as a doctor to get a perspective on that side of things.”
S2E8: Veterinary Technicians—The Backbone of Your Practice
Guests: Danielle Jonas
In this episode, Alex talks with Danielle Jonas, the veterinary technician manager at UF’s Small Animal Hospital.
Danielle says veterinary technicians “do the treatments, complete paperwork, do all patient care and assist with procedures,” while veterinarians make the big decisions.
Certification to become a veterinary technician can either be on-the-job training or attending vet tech school, depending on your state.
Attending vet tech school is less costly than vet school, which can be a great option for students who do not want to get a bachelor’s degree and DVM degree, according to Danielle and Alex.
For Danielle, successful vet techs must communicate professionally and care for animals.
In the field of veterinary medicine, Danielle says that pre-vet students should be prepared for long hours, be happy about the opportunities they are given and be aware of what their stressors are.
She says that her ways of overcoming stress are remembering to breathe and “recognize that things are emotional” in veterinary medicine. She also practices yoga and goes outdoors when she needs to destress. Alex advises listeners to “feel the feelings” to grow and overcome emotions.
Danielle talks about how a perfect veterinarian trusts their technicians and allow them to do their job.
Lastly, Danielle advises students to be present in the moment and appreciate the opportunities in this career.
S2E9: Veterinary OBGYNs- Theriogenology
Guests: Dr. Juan Samper
In this episode, Alex talks with Dr. Samper, Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs and diplomat of the American College of Theriogenology.
Dr. Samper first mentions his upbringing in Colombia and vet school experience there. He talks about how he was surrounded by the reproductive science of cows while in Colombia.
According to Dr. Samper, a theriogenologist is an “OBGYN for females and a urologist for males” that “encompasses both small and large animals.” Even after 30+ years of practicing, Dr. Samper says his favorite part of being a theriogenologist is watching a mare give birth. Dr. Samper talks about how mares are built to have one baby each year, so when a mare has twins, most of the time the foals “fight for space” in the womb and are birthed prematurely.
Ultrasounds are the most important tools used by theriogenologists. Dr. Samper talks about reproductive strategies for mares. He explains how the two main ways to impregnate a horse are through natural mating or artificial insemination of frozen, cooled, or fresh sperm and how embryo transfer is frequently used to transfer an embryo from one mare to another as a way of artificial insemination.
What makes a good theriogenologist? Dr. Samper says dedication and attention to detail are necessities. He mentions how in this field, you will be on “the horse’s time and not your time.”
Dr. Samper next discusses cloning and how it can be useful to preserve good genetics in reproduction.
Lastly, his advice for pre-vet students is “to be well-rounded” and “understand what the profession is and the struggles that the profession is going through.”
S2E10: A Sit-Down with the Admissions Committee
Guests: Dr. Frances Carter, Dr. Alan Weldon, Dr. Patti Gordon
In this episode, Alex speaks with the UF College of Veterinary Medicine admissions committee.
Dr. Carter first starts off the podcast by saying her reason for joining the admissions committee was to give back to the profession. Dr. Weldon says he joined to change the future of the profession and improve the overall job satisfaction of veterinarians. Dr. Gordon says how rewarding her time has been on the admissions committee and hopes to continually improve the profession.
Dr. Carter and Dr. Weldon say how they look for applicants that can handle the stress vet school and complete the rigorous course load. Dr. Gordon says how vet school is comprised of “strong science” classes and students must show that they could manage their previous science courses in undergrad.
Dr. Weldon mentions how students should try to improve their grades throughout undergrad to show the admissions committee that they can overcome a bad grade. If there is a reason for doing poorly in a class, students should explain themselves.
Next, Dr. Gordon says she likes to see that students have worked at an animal hospital to show that they understand the profession and have teamwork skills. Dr. Carter says that being an employed technician shows that you were valued enough to be paid at a practice. Dr. Weldon says time as a technician shows the admission committee that you are familiar with technical skills and “can spend your time learning other things instead of worrying about things such as putting in a catheter for the first time.”
Extracurricular activities show the committee that students are well-rounded, involved in their community and have outside interests. Dr. Carter says how things such as studying abroad do not stand out to the admissions committee or make you a more desirable applicant.
Dr. Gordon says that students should provide those who are writing them recommendation letters with outlines to make the letters impressive. Dr. Carter says that recommenders should be able to tell why the applicant wants to be a veterinarian. Dr. Weldon says that the admissions committee is looking for recommenders to identify “character, resiliency, leadership, compassion, empathy with specific examples.”
The committee wants to see essays that are not generic, do not have grammatical errors and show the personality of the applicant.
Lastly, Dr. Weldon says that he likes to see applicants that have worked full-time. Dr. Carter and Dr. Gordon say that you must give up some things in your personal life to be a veterinarian and the committee likes to see students that can work hard.
S2E11: Chatting with a Recent Graduate
Guests: Dr. Cynthia Kathir (℅ 2018)
In this episode, Alex talks with Dr. Kathir about her time at a private practice. Dr. Kathir mentions how she likes working at a private practice since she can see a wide variety of cases. This creates challenges for her that she likes to tackle, such as working with a tight budget and thinking outside of the box– allowing her to create bonds with clients.
Dr. Kathir talks about her time at Banfield and how she got her current position. According to Dr. Kathir, a relief position is where veterinarians are hired to fill in for other veterinarians that are unable to come into work or where clinics are short-staffed and need occasional help. She says how she does relief work in shelter medicine when she has the time.
If you are the type of person that loves to travel and work in different environments, Alex and Dr. Kathir talk about how working as a relief veterinarian could be a great option for you. Dr. Kathir says that veterinarians should be adaptable to do this.
Dr. Kathir talks about her time as a vet student at UF and how her time volunteering with Operation Catnip gave her the opportunity to perform “662 spays and neuters and quite a few elective procedures such as enucleations, amputations and a variety of other soft tissue things.”
The transition from being a student to becoming a doctor can be scary. Dr. Kathir advises recent graduates to “go somewhere where you have a great support system” to feel the most comfortable. Dr. Kathir mentions how “medicine is unpredictable,” but says that choosing a job that fits your needs is important for your work-life balance.
Lastly, Dr. Kathir advises students to “never forget why you’re here and trust yourself and believe in yourself.”
S2E12: Two-for-One Episode: Internal Med and Nutrition
Guests: Dr. Richard Hill
Dr. Hill talks about his time as a vet student in England and how it was different from programs in the United States. After starting his career as a veterinarian, Dr. Hill realized he wanted to go back to school to continue his veterinary education and chose UF.
He tells listeners that veterinarians need to realize that “this is a business” and that they “have to come up with a plan that allows [them] to have good financial resources.”
Internal medicine is connected to many other specialties, because an internist will send patients to specialists if needed after examination. In internal medicine, Dr. Hill says he was exposed to dogs, cats, pocket pets, and birds in general practice but as a specialist he mainly sees companion animals.
As a nutritionist, Dr. Hill connects internal medicine and nutrition by mentioning how both deal with the “metabolism of food once it gets inside the body.” He says each pet needs to be treated as an individual and that not all rules of nutrition are the same for each pet. According to Dr. Hill, most veterinarians “strongly advocate giving cooked food and not raw food” because raw food is “likely to have pathogens” that can cause issues for your pet. Dr. Hill advises pet owners to worry more about nutrients and not ingredients when choosing a food. For instance, cats need a healthy amount of taurine in their diets.
Lastly, Dr. Hill tells pre-vet students that practices look for veterinarians that can “work hard, who are nice to work with, and who know something.”
S2E13: Manifesting Positive Vibes
Guests: Stephanie Duno (℅ 2023)
In this episode, Alex and Stephanie talk about how to maintain a positive attitude in vet school.
Stephanie chose a path of veterinary medicine because she loves the human-animal bond. This was sparked by her language barrier when first moving to the United States. To Stephanie, “manifestation is not only working towards what you want but also your attitude towards what you want.” Alex mentions how part of our attitude is “ingrained” in us, but there are ways to become a more positive person. Stephanie uses guided meditations from YouTube, journals, attends therapy, and does her best to eat healthy in her journey to becoming a better person for herself.
Healthy options such as smoothies and avocado toast help Stephanie to fuel her body with energy. Stephanie says that friendships and new beginnings “come organically” and that students should let things happen naturally. To stay happy before and during vet school, Stephanie says to practice gratitude to increase your energy and appreciate what surrounds you.
Alex and Stephanie talk about the importance of reframing a situation to learn from an experience and grow from it. Stephanie says how she likes to make vision boards to manifest things for herself and make her goals become a reality.
Lastly, Stephanie and Alex talk about the importance of “feeling your feelings” and review the methods of identifying them, working through them and accepting them.
Guests: Dr. Sheila Carrera-Justiz
In this episode, Alex talks with Dr. Carrera-Justiz, a clinical assistant professor, a Small Animal Hospital Medical Director and the UF CVM Neurology Service Chief.
Dr. Carrera-Justiz starts off by talking about her undergraduate experience at the University of Virginia, her time as a DVM student at UF and her small animal internship at the University of Missouri.
As a neurologist, Dr. Carrera-Justiz says she “has fingers in every pie, meaning that I have to be able to do some internal medicine, radiology, a little bit on oncology and a fair bit of surgery.”
Dr. Carrera-Justiz says she did not match for a residency, so she did a specialty internship in San Diego that later got her a residency opportunity at Tufts University. During her time as a private practice specialist, Dr. Carrera-Justiz says that she worked four days a week with 12–14-hour shifts. Working in LA exposed Dr. Carrera-Justiz to a diverse range of clients and pets.
Dr. Carrera-Justiz explains that neurology is anything that involves the “brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles” that controls the body. Scheduling for Dr. Carrera-Justiz is difficult because many cases are emergencies. According to Dr. Carrera-Justiz, common cases that are seen by veterinary neurologists involve paralysis in dachshunds, seizures in dogs and brain cancer patients. Dogs with “short legs or a smushy face” are the usual patients seen by neurologists.
Working as a neurologist has exposed Dr. Carrera-Justiz to a wide range of opportunities, such as performing a spinal surgery on a rabbit and an otter.
Students that are curious, can follow useful rules and are dedicated would be the best suited to be a neurologist, according to Dr. Carrera-Justiz.
Dr. Carrera-Justiz explains that a neurological examination tests “if an animal can see, feel their face, move their face, do they know where their feet are in space, can they walk around normally or abnormally, do they have normal reflexes, and how do they interact with their environment?”
Dr. Carrera-Justiz’s last bit of advice for pre-vet students is to keep trying if they do not get into vet school or get a residency on the first try.
S2E15: Applying in a Pandemic
In this special episode, Alex talks about how to apply to vet school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alex first talks about the struggles of going virtual during the pandemic, such as faulty internet connection or doing schoolwork from a stressful environment. Prior to the pandemic, many students had plans to shadow, work or study abroad to gain veterinary experience that were later canceled due to COVID-19. Alex recommends that students get creative during this time to keep spirits high and get involved in their communities. Alex tells listeners that everyone has something to offer, which could be through tutoring friends, making art projects, or anything else that makes you feel happier during this time.
During this time, class grading has also changed for many students to a pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory scale. Alex explains that UF will accept this new grading scale, but the admissions committee would “prefer to see grades for prerequisites and upper-level science courses” if possible. The admissions committee at UF would like to see students give reasons as to how COVID-19 impacted them. Alex says that the committee likes to see students get involved in activities outside of veterinary medicine and begin new hobbies during the pandemic.
Each student will be looked at individually based on their situation. Alex recommends that students take time off before vet school to gain more experience if they were unable to finish prerequisites or make themselves a strong competitor during the pandemic.
Alex guides students on completing a SWOT analysis to address their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats during their COVID-19 experience.
General advice from Alex is that “this is an opportunity to show your adaptability and flexibility during change and uncertainty.” Be an advocate for yourself and your journey to vet school.
S2E16: The Beauty of Being Nontraditional
Guests: Kim McFarlane (℅ 2023)
In this episode Alex talks with Kim about being a non-traditional vet student.
Kim says how she went to Florida State University for undergrad and graduated with a degree in environmental science, which led her to become a middle school science teacher. She says how her time as a teacher taught her how to relay information to others and gain patience. After being a teacher for three years, Kim decided to join the army. She says how this experience was one filled with excitement, frustration,exhaustion, and how she recommends joining the army to students who are up for a challenge.
Although Kim was not a veterinarian in the army, she was able to work alongside veterinarians. She mentions how army veterinarians “work with the navy, the marine mammal unit and can be sent out to any unit for animals who are deployed or for food safety.”
Thirteen years after graduating with her bachelor’s degree, becoming a teacher and joining the army, Kim decided that she wanted to go back to school and get her master’s degree at Florida Atlantic University. Kim says how after completing her master’s, she decided that vet school was the next step for her. She discusses the challenges she faces, such as the age differences between herself and the other students.
Next, Kim talks about how she is a minority student and how her class at UF CVM is the most diverse there has been so far. Kim advises minority students to “keep pushing and don’t let doubts stop you” when you feel different from everyone else.
S2E17: Large Animal Surgery
Guests: Dr. Taralyn McCarrel
In this episode, Alex talks with Dr. McCarrel, an assistant professor in large animal surgery at UF.
Dr. McCarrel’s path to veterinary medicine started from her undergrad experience in Canada and working on her uncle’s farm. She talks about her internship in large animal surgery post-graduation. Later, went to Cornell University to work under a surgeon performing orthopedic and regenerative medicine research and then headed to Kentucky to complete a private practice residency.
Dr. McCarrel talks about how “horse people tend to do things early, especially in the breeding and racing industries.” She says how during her internship, interns and technicians had most of their preparatory tasks of the day completed by 7:30am.
Lameness evaluations are performed when horses experience pain, which can be in the “joints, bones, muscles, tendons, or ligaments.” After observing a horse’s trot and injecting local anesthetics, imaging such as x-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans can be used.
In equine medicine, Dr. McCarrel mentions that “what horses get is going to be heavily dependent on what they do” rather than their breed. Dr. McCarrel says how racehorses are commonly seen with chip fractures, tendon injuries or stress fractures. On the other hand, dressage horses often have arthritis or muscle injuries.
On a surgery day, Dr. McCarrel can complete up to ten surgeries based on the type. Dr. McCarrel explains how large animal surgeons must be flexible with their schedules. Next, she mentions how horses usually have many people that come along with them, such as the “owner or multiple owners, trainer, rider, farm manager, insurance agent and referring veterinarians.”
She says how surgeons must be confident because things need to be dealt with in the moment while exuding confidence to others. Alex and Dr. McCarrel also discuss the rigor of training to become a surgeon and the thick skin that students must have to be successful.
Lastly, Dr. McCarrel chats about the work-life balance aspect of large animal surgery. She says how students should get as much experience as possible to ensure that they love the large animal surgery lifestyle.
S2E18: Law and Order: DVM
Guests: Dr. Adam Stern
In this episode, Alex talks with Dr. Stern, an associate professor for forensic pathology at UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Stern talks about his time as an undergraduate at George Washington University and vet school experience at the University of Prince Edward Island. He later completed his residency at Oklahoma State University where he became interested in forensics.
Clinical pathologists look at “blood smears, do pathologies and chemistries” while anatomical pathologists “looks at tissues, like biopsies or the entire body” according to Dr. Stern. In forensics, Dr. Stern explains that the “animal is used as evidence to be presented to the legal system.” Dr. Stern says that students with an interest in the criminal justice system and mystery would be a good fit in forensics. He mentions how this career can be emotional as the doctor is exposed to crimes that can be graphic.
Forensics is different from other specialties in veterinary medicine since forensic pathologists are defending the animal after they have suffered. While other veterinarians are attempting to stop or avoid suffering in their patients.
Dr. Stern says that most cases he sees are potential criminal activities or investigations of surgeries that could have gone wrong. When Dr. Stern receives a case, he first “reads the history to get an understanding of what is thought to have happened” and later works with radiologists and performs post-mortem exams. Alex and Dr. Stern discuss how forensic pathologists must have strong written and verbal communication skills to relay medical information to an audience and feel comfortable being an expert witness in some cases.
He says how his favorite part of the job is interacting with his students to “train the next generation” of veterinarians.
Dr. Stern mentions his work-life balance and says how he has learned how to leave his work behind work when he goes home.
Advice that Dr. Stern gives students is to be open-minded and realize that your plans will change based on your experiences.
S2E19: Diagnostic Imaging Welcomes You to the Bat Cave
Guests: Dr. Erin Porter
In this episode, Alex speaks with Dr. Porter, a clinical assistant professor of diagnostic imaging at UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Porter talks about her undergraduate and vet school experience at UF. Post-graduation, Dr. Porter says she worked as an equine ambulatory practitioner, had an internship in equine lameness and imaging at UF, and later matched with a residency in radiology.
Dr. Porter says she uses x-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI, and nuclear scintigraphy in her job to interpret images and write reports. Dr. Porter mentions that she enjoys watching fluoroscopies.
Dr. Porter explains teleradiology, which is when you can “send radiographic images anywhere in the world” and where clinicians can “read images remotely anywhere they want.”
The usual day of a radiologist takes place in a dark room, also called the “bat cave” at UF, interpreting images. Dr. Porter says how sometimes she performs ultrasounds all day and biopsies, so she still has some variety in her day.
For horses and large animals, Dr. Porter says how veterinarians are limited in their imaging options due to the inability for modalities to fit their size. Dr. Porter discusses her work-life balance and says how diagnostic imaging is one of the best specialties for students looking for a good balance. She explains how she has set work hours and doesn’t interact with clients often.
Lastly, Dr. Porter says how students who are systematic, detail-oriented and enjoy anatomy would enjoy diagnostic imaging the most.
S2E20: Wellness Check
Guests: Dr. Jamie Stahl
In this episode, Alex talks with Dr. Stahl, DVM and registered mental health counselor.
Dr. Stahl discusses her struggles with mental health during vet school. She completed her DVM and realized veterinary medicine was not the right path for her after talking with her counselor. Her advice to students is to “listen to yourself” and talk to others about what you are feeling. Dr. Stahl says that completing her DVM is not a regret because it allows her to connect and relate more with the students she advises.
You have probably been told to stop comparing yourself to others. However, Dr. Stahl says that it is okay to compare yourself to others because it is an “innate quality of humans to belong to part of a group.” Pre-vet students should find what they value before vet school and realize that they are more than their grades.
Dr. Stahl says how experiencing your emotions and finding where you physically feel these emotions is crucial. Knowing that these emotions will change and labeling them can bring you relief.
SEAT is an acronym that can be used to identify your emotions. “S” is for finding where the physical sensation of this feeling can be found in your body. “E” stands for labeling the emotion. “A” is for what action to take. “T” is for what we tell ourselves.
Dr. Stahl leads listeners in an exercise of self-exploration to look at our past, present and future selves.
Lastly, Dr. Stahl advises students to “do more of what you love to do.”
S3E1: Someone Told Me It’s All Happening At The Zoo
Guests: Dr. Kyle Donnelly
In today’s episode, Alex talks with a veterinarian from The Brevard Zoo about the in’s and out’s of zoo med.
Dr. Donnelly shares her history at the University of Florida, as well as some of her internships, including a small animal rotation, working with exotics and finally returning to UF for her zoo med residency. She then goes on to discuss her interest in conservation and research, discussing her experience as a research assistant.
Dr. Donnelly goes over what it means to work in wildlife conservation as a veterinarian, giving specific examples. She discusses field work, practicing medicine and reminds us to avoid “colonial medicine.” Students need to focus on making a lasting impact for natives and plan to “keep the power with them,” instead of just taking a fun trip to a unique location.
Alex and Dr. Donnelly then go into the daily life of a zoo vet. Dr. Donnelly discusses how learning this medicine is unique compared to other fields, where you have up-to-date research on your patients.
One recommendation from Dr. Donnelly is to find zoo medicine experiences on your own. She notes that although there may not be many zoo med classes, the foundational information applies and is vital to understanding these exotic animals.
We get an inside look on the salary of a zoo vet and how such a competitive field actually attributes to lower pay since it is easier to find replacements. She discusses how getting involved in a zoo is possible without board certification, although it certainly helps.
Dr. Donnelly recommends The Fowler’s Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine to gain some intro knowledge into zoo medicine, as well as having journal access to get up to date information using sources like JZWM, JAVMA and JAMS.
The podcast ends on some speed round questions for Dr. Donnelly’s favorite and least favorite animals working in zoo med.
Guests: Dr. Heather Walden
Alex talks with Dr. Heather Walden, a UF CVM parasitologist, all about the world of parasites and how important understanding them is for veterinarians.
Dr. Walden opens by discussing her degree, which is a PhD in parasitology, showing how you can work in veterinary medicine without being a veterinarian. Dr. Walden works directly with veterinarians, researchers, and the government.
Parasitologists have several options ranging from focusing on one species, looking at a wide spectrum and even studying species from around the world. You may be doing diagnostics to determine the species, sequencing with PCR to share knowledge, performing research or more. Dr. Walden shared how she has been doing research on the parasite Angiostrongylus and the investigating that had to be done to determine its source.
Another important consideration for a parasitologist is to understand if a parasite is zoonotic and the different implications that has for the severity of the parasite which could be better, worse or the same. Parasitologists also have to understand climate change and how weather patterns can impact the behavior and prevalence of parasites.
Alex and Dr. Walden discuss how working in the field of parasitology is incredibly diverse, with options for only molecular based studying, teaching, research, diagnostics and the capability of doing several of these opportunities.
For two final takeaways, Dr. Walden suggested to “not take yourself too seriously and not to put a ton of weight on that grade,” to ensure that students know that performing self-care is vital for someone working in this field. She discussed that for those still wanting to be a DVM, you have the option of attaining a graduate degree, as parasitologists are a shrinking community and needs more people interested in pursuing a career in this field.
S3E3: One Diversity Essay, Four Perspectives
Guests: Andrea Rodriguez (℅ 2023), Hira Basit (℅ 2022), Maria Grillo (℅ 2021), Ken Wesley (℅ 2021)
Alex and the rest of the students open the discussion by sharing their identities. This includes their race, ethnicities, sexual orientations and lived experiences.
An important topic addressed is how sharing your diversity is not just to check a box, but instead should be shown how you can improve the field. For example, being bilingual and understanding of the necessity for adequate communication with our clients that might not speak English is so important to provide care for their pets, as well as reaching more clients.
Another point made was that by simply existing in these spaces allows for representation and helps others who share that identity relate and see themselves in the profession.
Diversity can change the “lens that you see the world.” Things such as income differences, family dynamics and religion also have an impact on how you think and see the world. One important piece brought up was although you may not feel that you are not obviously diverse, there are things that make you unique and if you have many privileges, you should be looking at “what you doing to make yourself culturally competent.”
The students go on to discuss their own diversity essays and the struggle with including some of their more personal identities. The suggestion from the students was “don’t feel that you can’t include a part of yourself.” If you are not ready to share that part, then do not feel obligated to include it. However, if you are and this is a piece of you that influences your views, it is a valuable lens to share.
The podcast closes off with some final tips from the vet students as well as some resources for better understanding diversity, such as Underrepresented No More.
S3E4: K-911, What’s Your Emergency?
Guests: Dr. Carl Southern
In this episode Alex is joined by Dr. Carl Southern to discuss his experience as an emergency and critical care resident. Dr. Southern talks about his original disinterest in emergency medicine when attending Tuskegee and how he had actively avoided it prior to finding his passion.
Dr. Southern worked in private practice for over a year before deciding to try emergency medicine after wanting something a bit less routine. This was prior to applying to a residency, which he was able to do without an internship thanks to his equivalent work experience. However, he was offered a position for an internship instead. He says, “sometimes you just have to play the game.” For Dr. Southern, the game was accepting an internship.
Interning in emergency medicine was described as intense, but enjoyable. Dr. Southern goes on to explain the specific innerworkings of the ER, ICU, and the PCW.
He talks about the most common incoming patients in his experience which are vomiting/diarrhea, ADR (aint’ doin right) and true emergencies. Dr. Southern talks about his favorite patients to work on are the ones that he can fix.
One strong indication that emergency medicine could be a fit for you, is whether or not you want to build strong relationships with clients and patients. Dr. Southern discusses the client communications and how he stays focused on the task at hand.
Following up on client communications, Alex and Dr. Southern talk about some of the more eccentric experiences with clients in the ER and the lighter side of this setting. On the flip side, Dr. Southern touches on one of the hardest parts of veterinary medicine, euthanasia.
Dr. Southern recommends someone to pursue emergency medicine if your personality type is someone who focuses on things in the moment, do not get overly attached and enjoy surgery. Alternatively, he recommends if you like to see your patient through their life, like looking at the big picture (as opposed to only the incident at hand) or if you struggle with time management, that emergency medicine may not be for you.
The pawscast closes off with Dr. Southern’s tip to find a mentor prior to getting into vet school.
S3E5: Wearing Multiple Hats
Guests: Dr. Andrea Gentry-Apple
In this episode Alex is joined by Dr. Andrea Gentry-Apple, coordinator for veterinary education at North Carolina A&T University and a clinical associate veterinarian, as well as serving as a relief veterinarian. The two discuss how Dr. Gentry-Apple handles juggling all these roles, as well as her take on what it’s like being a black woman in large animal medicine.
Dr. Gentry-Apple delves into how she found her way into veterinary medicine. She expands on the food animal scholars’ program as a way to attend vet school for someone truly passionate about food animal medicine, along with the stringent parameters that come with it.
Dr. Gentry-Apple talks about the struggles with imposter syndrome throughout veterinary medicine, as well as her experiences attending both a primarily white institution (PWI) and a historically black college or university(HBCU). She expressed feeling “culturally exhausted” as a black woman in large animal medicine and reinforced the importance of understanding and increasing diversity.
The recommendation given by Alex and Dr. Gentry-Apple is to not worry about where your degree comes from, whether it is the highest or lowest ranked vet school, as long as it is the right fit for you.
Alex asks Dr. Gentry-Apple what drew her to large animal medicine, to which she responded the relationship she gets to build with the farmers, as well as the challenge it brings. While she still does small animal medicine, she has a heavy preference for food animal medicine.
The two go on to discuss the way Dr. Gentry-Apple handles the numerous hats she wears. She shares her biggest piece of advice is that multi-tasking is not always effective and sometimes you need to “take a step back” and take a break (when possible) to keep from overloading.
We close off this episode with a sentiment from Dr. Gentry-Apple on the broadness of veterinary medicine and how you can find your niche and make it your own.
S3E6: A Different Side of Shelter Med: Veterinary Community Outreach Program
Guests: Dr. Kelly Harrison
Today’s guest is clinical assistant professor of shelter medicine and surgery and works in the Veterinary Community Outreach Program (VCOP); Alex and Dr. Harrison delve into the inner workings of shelter medicine. The episode begins with Dr. Harrison discussing her reasoning for pursuing a masters degree, as well as the research she performed in order to help improve her chances for vet school. Dr. Harrison discussed how she felt her master’s degree helped her integrate into vet school and gave her a boost.
Dr. Harrison goes on to explain VCOP, which works with local rescues and shelters, giving hands-on experience to students by performing spays and neuters, helping with vaccinations and health plans for these facilities.
We then get a day-by-day description of what it is like working through VCOP on clinical rotations. Students are able to get to experience being the lead on cases with guidance from experienced veterinarians while being submerged in these communities.
Dr. Harrison covers some of the unique aspects of shelter medicine such as the overpopulation seen within the shelter. Most shelters struggle with upper respiratory issues in cats, as these ailments are increased by stress.
The type of person who would thrive in shelter medicine, according to Dr. Harrison, is someone who is an out-of-the-box thinker who can take into account a shelter or client’s needs and budget. She advises that regardless of how your first application or applications go don’t give up. Because for her, the experiences that came during this time “made me who I am.”
S3E7: More Than Rats… Let’s Learn About Lab Animal Medicine
Guests: Dr. Brittany Southern
In this episode of the pawscast, Alex is joined by Dr. Brittany Southern who is a lab animal veterinarian. Dr. Southern has an undergraduate degree in psychology and fulfilled her science pre-requisites in the meantime. During this time, she began assisting in an animal lab where she found her passion and mentor in lab animal medicine.
Dr. Southern goes on to describe her path through vet school and how she maintained her love of lab animal medicine while still keeping an open mind. She revealed she actually did not get a position in lab animal medicine and instead did a rotating small animal internship.
Dr. Southern found a passion for emergency medicine and spent two years in the field before she began feeling burnt out and wanted to return to lab animal medicine. She says as a veterinarian, her job is to care for the animals in research labs and protect them. Dr. Southern is able to educate researchers on the importance of this and enforces regulations.
One recommendation given to students is they should think about exposure to the different fields due to the high amount of variety available and think about where they can make connections.
Using animals in research has had incredible impacts on human health, such as diabetes treatments or any drug which the FDA requires to be tested on animals prior to testing them in humans. Thanks to lab animals, we have the benefit of modern medicine.
Dr. Southern describes a lab animal veterinarian as someone with good client communications skills which may come as a surprise to some. However, addressing issues with scientists about their lab animals is an enormous part of your job in your effort to protecting these animals. When you are a veterinarian “you are immediately a leader” and need to be able to delegate and direct your team.
S3E8: To-Do Listers vs. Go With The Flow-ers
Guests: Morgan Papworth
In this episode Alex is joined by Morgan Papworth, a health education and behavior specialist. This podcast discusses self-care and wellness and its different shapes and forms.
Listeners were asked, “are you a to-do-lister or a go-with-the-flow-er?” to identify what methods for wellness work best for them.
Morgan and Alex cover: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, environmental, financial, occupational and intellectual wellness. They discuss strategies like tracking goals, identifying how you deal with stress, ensuring you have a social support system and using that support is extremely important. Financial wellness is something that will become even more vital when going into vet school and the veterinary field.
The podcast ends with the tip from Morgan that “your career is not just the knowledge you have, but the people you know and the experiences you have.” She highly recommends making the most of your time and ensure you find balance in your life.
S3E9: Leveling Up Leadership
Guests: Dr. Chris Adin
Alex is joined by Dr. Chris Adin, the UFCVM Small Animal Clinical Sciences Department Chair, to discuss his tips, tricks, and experiences for leadership positions.
Dr. Adin describes how he came to the realization that he wanted to become a veterinary surgeon. Dr. Adin explains that his interest in leadership began with his original thought that people have innate leadership skills. However, he came to learn that leadership training can help anyone.
Potential leadership curriculum recommended by Dr. Adin begins with a DISC analysis to learn your personality type and see what form of leadership works best for you. Follow-up by looking for real life leadership opportunities to gain hands-on experience. Professional development books can be highly beneficial. Dr. Adin recommends First Break All The Rules, and Hostage At The Table.
Opposing a popular belief, Dr. Adin says leadership means putting people in a place that uses their strength, “not in a position that they need to overcome their weakness.” He also recommends expressing your strengths and weaknesses to your team to help facilitate communication.
Dr. Adin is a soft tissue surgeon who performs micro surgery, which is incredibly delicate. He says that “you do not have to be amazing with your hands to become a surgeon” and the challenging part comes from the knowledge it requires.
Alex goes on to ask Dr. Adin about One Health, which is an initiative to cross lines between animals and people to improve the health for everyone. Food safety and zoonotic diseases are examples of this. A subset of this is One Medicine, which refers to diseases in animals similar or identical to humans and how treating animals can allow us to facilitate human medicine. Diabetes is a great example of this.
As department chair, Dr. Adin supervises the faculty in his department and their careers. Betterment for faculty of a CVM looks like raising teaching scores and publishing research, which can improve the ranking of a university.
Dr. Adin’s advice is to imagine all aspects of life when you select your career path. Knowing what fits best for you is vital. The incredible amount of opportunities available for veterinarians leaves plenty of room for all types of people.
S3E10: Many Opportunities In The Sea
Guests: Dr. Mike Walsh
Alex is joined by Dr. Mike Walsh, a clinical associate professor of aquatic animal health at UF CVM, to hear all about his unique experiences in this unique field.
Dr. Walsh is from the Midwest but spent some time working at Sea World, which grew his passion and knowledge of aquatic animal medicine. Dr. Walsh warns that there is not high job availability. He usually says “it doesn’t matter those first four years” what species you treat, because the foundational experience as a veterinarian can open the opportunities you want.
Dr. Walsh reminds everyone that even in this field of veterinary medicine you must be good with people because “almost every animal has an owner, whether that’s a corporation or a person.” Dr. Walsh shares his experience working with a vast team to treat a manatee and the teamwork required.
We get an inside look at unique aspects of Dr. Walsh’s job, which includes rescues, conservation and treating patients. Having a DVM is essentially another tool on the belt for someone working in this field, which allows looking at issues with a different perspective. He goes on to explain his theory on why it is important to have “exposure to all trades to master one.”
Dr. Walsh explains his experience at Sea World, the goals he had coming in and how he was able to accomplish them. He says the best quality for someone interested in aquatic health is being able to put yourself in a place where you can grow and learn.
Some advice Dr. Walsh gives is that students should work on building confidence to go a step beyond the rest, as well as learn how to be a bit more extroverted. Getting used to being asked questions by strangers will help not only in your interview, but also in your professional life.
S3E11: Student Panel-Animal Tracks
Guests: Taylor Aasen (℅ 2023), Caroline Brown (℅ 2021), Alejandro Grau (℅ 2021), Brittany Liguori (℅ 2021)
In this episode, we get to hear from four veterinary students pursuing different fields in vetmed and what their individual experiences were like.
We begin the podcast with introductions from Taylor (small animal), Caroline (equine), Alejandro (food animal) and Brittany (wildlife).
The lenses that people look through are dependent on their lived experiences. The students share how their country of origin, family, education and overall past shaped them.
We then get to hear about their individual education tracks. Each student shares their favorite class, including: advanced theriogenology, renal physiology, reptile medicine, equine lameness and diagnostic imaging.
Brittany also touches on the reduced amount of wildlife medicine taught in vet school compared to the other fields, which requires you to look for other opportunities to network and gain experience. We get to hear about the different clubs that the students are involved in while at the vet school. They describe each one of their favorite clubs, which are related to their field of interest and the different wet labs and other opportunities they have received.
The students doing externships describe their experiences. They discuss their abilities to get hands on experience practicing medicine and putting the things they’ve learned to the test.
Alex then goes through a lightning round to hear some fun tips from the students, including their recommendation for their individual fields on how to prepare in undergrad and must have resources, self-care, and the selling point for their field.
The podcast ends with some final pieces of advice from the students on how to prepare for applying to vet school.
S3E12: Call-In Show
Guests: The UF Pre-Vet Club
Today’s episode features the UF Pre-Veterinary Medicine Club to do a Q&A from the students, opening up with a question about how to get volunteer hours during the time of COVID.
Alex gives some useful resources on how to stay up to date with what’s going on in veterinary medicine such as setting up google alerts for topical articles, talk to veterinarians and staying up-to-date with articles from JAVMA, the AVMA or FVMA.
Alex gives the recommendation to “be yourself but do not give anything that distracts” to make sure you are not taking away from the content. Be sure to sound mature and avoid red flags. You should also plan on applying more than one time.
We get a few examples on the traits exhibited by the top applicants, including personal traits and experiences they have. Alex discusses a bit about the overwhelming number of options for a vet to work in and provides tips such as getting to know yourself better, going through our podcast episodes on the different fields or if you are a student at UF, joining the class.
On the application Alex gives her personal advice to include high school experiences if they are employment, veterinary related or heavily related programs while avoiding the more filler extracurriculars (like prom court or honor societies). When it comes to some of the minor experiences, Alex says “the stepping stones get the students to the bigger experiences.” So, if you have those bigger experiences they know you have the stepping stones. Experiences should also be within 10 years and relevant.
Alex ends the podcast by giving some tips on how to prepare for your interview, giving specific examples of questions asked in the past. She also recommends learning the difference between confidence and arrogance and how to market yourself to the committee.
S3E13: A Non-Traditional President
Guests: Jeremiah Owens (℅ 2023)
Alex is joined by Jeremiah Owens to discuss his experience as a non-traditional student and how that changed his path to vet school, as well as his experiences as being the current president of his class.
Jeremiah discusses how his age (32) has not made him feel alienated despite the age difference of up to around 10 years and how this is not something that should push you away from pursuing veterinary medicine.
Another non-traditional path Jeremiah took was majoring in Psychology. He was 28 when he started considering a career in veterinary medicine. Having a non-science major, which deals with people, has helped improve his identification of the different degrees of emotion. Because of this major, Jeremiah had to do a post-bacc program for a career change (or you can get the courses as a non-degree seeking student).
Jeremiah was also a deputy sheriff for three and a half years. A surprising similarity he found was both careers deal with “normalcy” and how you must find the thing that has deviated from normal, either in a crisis or in vetmed.
Being class president requires an intense amount of balance between life, school, and duties. His experience as a class president during COVID has brought on even more hardships than an average year and he gives an inside look on his experience.
We end the podcast by discussing general advice for pre-vet students from Jeremiah, who recommends being yourself and “selling who you are as an individual.” He explains how doing this can help reduce imposter syndrome as a reminder that you deserve to be there.
S3E14: Staying Power
Guests: Dr. Stephanie Jones
Dr. Jones goes over some of the big differences in vet school today compared to when she attended. Focusing on her work with reproductive medicine, Dr. Jones explains her ideals and boundaries in how she practices and recommends students hold true to their values. She discusses the staying power of having a mentor who helped mold her and develop her own values.
Dr. Jones recommends doing a self-check once a year to see if you are still growing and learning, being heard and happy.
Pets Help The Heart Heal is a program that allows foster kids to come into an animal hospital to see the life of veterinarians. The kids involved have a chance to learn, as well as be with animals to help lower stress and have fun.
Being able to give back to the community in a way that combines two things she loves has been excellent for her quality of life. Dr. Jones describes the many different attributes that make a good veterinarian in her eyes. She also recommends you “bite off one piece of the elephant at a time” and not get too caught up with holding the world on your shoulders, which she sees from many new grads.
S3E14: Go Army, Go VetMed!
Guests: Dr. Chelsea Rivera (℅ 2019)
Alex is joined by Dr. Chelsea Rivera, an army veterinarian for the Ft. Sam Houston Veterinary Services. This episode covers what it is like being a veterinarian for the military, as well as some of the financial benefits.
Dr. Rivera spoke to a recruiter while in pre-vet and once accepted into vet school was able to apply for a military scholarship. Dr. Rivera stated at the time of her application to the HPSP, only 30 veterinary students were given the scholarship. There are other scholarships offered as well and loan payment assisting if you join the army after vet school.
It is explained by Dr. Rivera that while being on active duty, your general 9-5 job is military related, while being in the reserves means you have a non-military job but have a set amount of time a year that you perform services for the military. She also explains the basic officer leadership course required.
Dr. Rivera chats about the different types of units available and possibilities of deployment vs. working on a base. Dr. Rivera personally works at a clinic on a base in Texas and discusses the patients she sees on a regular basis.
The role of a veterinarian in the military encompasses more than just animals, but sanitation inspection and admin work as well. The medicine she practices involves lots of wellness checks, vaccines and surgeries, which depend on the facility’s capabilities.
Alex and Dr. Rivera play a fill-in-the-blank-game to gather some of Dr. Rivera’s opinions. She suggests not pursuing a career in the military if you only want to pursue the clinical side of veterinary medicine, as public health and paperwork are a huge part of this field.
Dr. Rivera applied to vet school four times before being accepted and her advice is don’t give up, “keep improving yourself for each application.” She recommends building strong relationships with veterinarians to recommend you.
S3E16: Holy Cow! Exploring Food Animal Veterinary Medicine
Guests: Dr. Fiona Maunsell
In this episode, Alex is joined by Dr. Maunsell, a clinical assistant professor for the Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the UF CVM, discussing the ins and outs of food animal medicine. Dr. Maunsell attended veterinary school in Australia before moving to the US. She did an internship in production animal medicine and surgery in Illinois.
Dr. Maunsell explains how she originally wanted to go into equine medicine but discovered her passion for food animal medicine while in vet school. She tells us that a mixed animal practice typically means large and small animals. This practice model gives lots of variety in both the medicine practiced and the environments experienced.
After her internship, Dr. Maunsell decided to do a residency in order to facilitate her path into academia. She performed a dual residency master’s program with research in colostrum quality of ruminants. After being a clinical instructor for some time she decided to pursue a PhD at UF and researched mycoplasma mastitis.
Alex and Dr. Maunsell go on to discuss antibiotic usage in production animals and the efficacy and safety measures put in place when giving these medications. She explains the alternative treatments used on some organic farms.
Dr. Maunsell explains the daily life of a dairy veterinarian. She talks about working with “the curious cow” and their unique behavior and personality and being a woman in food animal medicine, which has more gender inequality than small animal medicine. She describes some of the discrimination she faces, as well as how it is improving.
The overall lack of rural veterinarians has several aspects, such as lack of retention. The AABP has been looking into possible resolutions for this issue among others. Alex and Dr. Maunsell go on to discuss more causes and possible remedies for this issue.
The students that do the best in production medicine are the students who aren’t afraid to get dirty and are willing to get clinical experiences through externships while in vet school.
A final piece of advice from Dr. Maunsell for pre-vet students, is for those living near their school of choice to meet faculty and assist on projects to get your foot in the door.
S3E17: Equine Veterinarian Of Steele
Guests: Dr. Liz Steele
Alex is joined by Dr. Liz Steele, an equine veterinarian, to hear all about her field of medicine as well as how she manages her work life balance. Dr. Steele’s father graduated from the second class at the UF CVM and she followed in his footsteps.
Dr. Steele explains the different things her practice offers and what an average day looks like. For sports medicine, an extensive physical exam can give you a solid idea of what a horse will move like before they even take a step; a skill someone can spend their entire veterinary career trying to master. As she puts it, “for some people that is terrifying and for some people that’s thrilling.”
Dr. Steele explains how veterinarians must act as a psychologist. For some client’s, their horses are more than just a pet. This can drastically change how someone views their animal.
Another service Dr. Steele offers is reproductive medicine. At her practice they perform artificial insemination, embryo implantation, and assist with foaling.
Dr. Steele also performs chiropractic services, which is a post-vet school educational option. Dr. Steele explains some of the usage and effectiveness of this treatment. She gives an example of how it is not all about strength, but technique.
Dr. Steele explains a floating teeth diagnosis and how equine dentistry requires learning outside of vet school.
We also get to hear from Dr. Steele about how she manages her work life balance and how certain things must take priority in her day. She talks about some of the struggles she’s faced with sometimes feeling like a good mom, wife, or vet “but they are never on the same day.” Dr. Steele sets aside time for her family and talks about her father’s advice of the importance of quality time.
S3E18: Admissions Panel Round 1
Guests: Dr. Gretchen Delcambre, Deanna Gerber, Kathy Seay, Jenna Henshue, Tajuan Sellars, Dr. Callie Rost
Today is a special episode with guests from a variety of veterinary school admissions teams.
The first topic is the culture of each program. Many of the schools agree on several core values, while emphasizing their unique qualities. Each school then goes on to discuss the actual climate of their location, as choosing a school based on weather can impact an applicant’s decision.
The committee members share a few items that make their school stand out. Kansas State promotes their clinical skill program and mobile surgery unit where students will do 50 surgeries in two weeks. Colorado State offers a number of combined degree programs and a great location. Auburn boasts a modern small animal teaching hospital and food animal/companion animal programs. Iowa State does not track students, which provides a well-rounded education, as well as 42 veterinary student clubs to stay active. The University of Missouri covers lectures for two years, then clinical rotations for two years and have a higher-than-average pass rate for boards, as well as offering several research opportunities. Finally, The University of Wisconsin offers the ability to be prepared if you know exactly what you want or has flexibility to help you find out if you don’t. They also offer dual-degree programs.
A big question on everyone’s mind is what are some of the red flags when applying to vet school? A few that all agreed upon are: having an immature view of veterinary medicine, speaking negatively on previous institutions, not being able to take accountability for low grades and having an unpolished application or interview. Keep in mind, each university has different values, requirements, and preferences. Some will look at when you submit your VMCAS and want you to submit early, while others do not.
S3E19: Admissions Panel Round 2
Guests: Ford Barnet, Nikkiya White, Dr. Brittany Moore-Henderson, Alberto Nunez, Jennifer Mailey
A continuation of part one, with a brand-new set of veterinary schools.
Guests share what makes their program special. Mississippi State offers two years in the classroom and two in the clinic, as well as sophomore surgery opportunities at spay and neuter shelters. NC State has the least expensive tuition (and allows non-residents to apply for residency after one year), a strong focus on wellness, and its program is three years pre-clinical/one year clinical, allowing you to declare your focus after year two. Cornell offers hands-on animal opportunities for all four years through wet labs, a global presence for out-of-country opportunities, and a heavy focus on research with their combined DVM/PhD program. WesternU is on a PBL curriculum, which means limited lecture time for the first two years, starting clinical training year one while focusing on non-invasive procedures.
Red flags discussed in this episode are: not doing research on the university before applying, being too formal in the interview and not showing your personality, missing requirements/minimums for a program, lacking extracurriculars and claiming you “are going into vet med because I don’t want to work with people.” They remind you to utilize the explanation statement and familiarize yourself with the program’s application review process.
S3E20: PawsCast Wrap-Up
This is a special episode with excerpts from seasons one through three of the podcast. We would like to give thanks to each veterinarian, vet student, advisor and guest who make this podcast possible.
S4E1: VMCAS Overview
In this episode, Alex explains how this special season of the Pre-Vet Pawscast. Jeffrey Young, a current vet school applicant, joins her throughout the season to provide tips and tricks for understanding the VMCAS application. Odd numbered episodes are about VMCAS and even numbered episodes feature previously recorded advising sessions with pre-vet students.
Alex and Jeffrey cover the VMCAS timeline and cost of applying for the 2021 cycle. They also go on to describe the separate VMCAS sections. They remind everyone that they are not “VMCAS experts” and are speaking from Jeffrey’s experience going through the application and Alex’s experience as the UF pre-vet advisor. Questions for your specific application should be directed toward each vet program.
Don’t forget to use the VMSAR to determine school requirements.
S4E2: Application Stats With A Horse Girl
In this episode, Alex is giving an advising session to a student interested in equine medicine. We get a complete oversight of their application stats, talk about letters of recommendation, diversity and more.
The podcast begins with some concerns regarding COVID and online labs, as well as how to approach coming into college with credits in easier classes and having a very rigorous course load. Alex also explains the rules for what experiences need to be placed under each category.
Alex also expresses the importance of “getting a foot in the door” by getting at least some foundation with experience in a field other than the one you are planning on going into. For example, So a student with plenty of large animal experience, should try and have at least 250 hours of small animal experience.
Another recommendation Alex gives is to prepare all of your hours in an excel sheet to keep track of the hours you are logging in order to monitor your progress.
S4E3: Academic History
In this episode of the podcast, Alex and Jeffrey touch on the academic history portion of the VMCAS including grades, course work, and standardized testing.
Alex explains that any college level course should be included (however you should be aware if a school you are applying to only wants coursework from the last 10 years. Inputting your grades from these classes is the first step, which can either be done on one’s own, or you can pay to have the VMCAS enter these in for you.
You should also be aware of how each school calculates GPA as each school has their own way of calculating it. There “are no hard and fast rules” when it comes to what each school is looking for as each student is evaluated as an individual. UF for instance looks at overall, last 45, and science GPA which they recalculate with their own formula.
Veterinary schools will also review which courses you took and how many. An average competitive applicant will take 15 credit hours per semester. When reviewing courses, they will look at how challenging the courses are you take and how many core science classes you are taking at a time.
Standardized testing has become less popular among vet schools however some do still require it. The GRE is the most common one and some schools have different ones under their program specific details (CASPer, MCAT, e.c.t.). For prepping for the GRE Alex recommends the Princeton review book. Some schools do not require testing but will still look at it (UF does not).
S4E4: Checking Boxes With A Transfer Student
In this episode, Alex speaks with a junior-by-credits transfer student to see what she should be accomplishing during her time at UF. Alex reminds the student that she is able to apply while still missing 3 courses.
The student then goes on to explain their experiences in veterinary medicine. This is also an excellent chance to build repour and find someone for a letter of recommendation. Alex goes into depth on the importance of veterinary experience vs animal handling experience.
Alex recommends not getting a minor just to have a minor and instead you should only do this if it is a topic that you are passionate about, and instead focus on keeping a high GPA.
Letters of recommendation should be a new and unique recommendation from someone who knows you well enough to give a detailed report with positive things to say.
S4E5: The Essays
In this episode, Alex and Jeffrey discuss essay strategies as well as touch on the twist for UF’s video essay for this year of the application.
Your essays are the way to show your personality and who you are. Starting with the VMCAS personal statement. The prompt for the essay does change occasionally so it is important to remember that these details can change. Alex recommends avoiding stories about pets from childhood and instead share experiences from adulthood that reflect your understanding of what your goals are.
“Double dipping” is best to be avoided, meaning you should not go into extensive depth on the same topic on more than one essay that will be sent to that school. Reusing topics for different vet schools is perfectly acceptable.
Many schools will also include a diversity essay to allow you to share your understanding of diversity and what makes you diverse. Alex recommends to not simply say what makes you diverse but instead explain why that diversity is important. She also explains that more things can make you diverse than you might initially think and that unique hobbies, experiences, or other topics can help fill in this section if you feel you lack one of the standard definitions of diversity.
Alex and Jeffrey discuss the struggle of standing out and Alex recommends just avoiding being generic, give your personalized experiences and you will stand out through that. You especially don’t want to stand out for any bad reason, so be sure to have your paper reviewed for spelling or grammar issues, and maybe even have veterinarians review it to ensure it is a realistic view.
UF introduced a video essay this year which can be intimidating for some. Jeffrey shares his recommendations which are to have someone in the room so it feels more like a conversation (without the other person speaking) and to push through mistakes to allow yourself to gain the practice for your video.
S4E6: Recommendation Letter Plan With An OOS Resident
In this episode, Alex speaks with a California Student about letters of recommendation and the benefits of drafting a letter of recommendation for them. Alex explains how giving a skeleton for a draft that they can edit themselves. If that makes you uncomfortable you can always just mention the things that you would like them to include in your letter. Offering to draft details or a skeleton can be helpful for those with a busy schedule.
Alex suggests that for the experiences that are valued but you are not getting a letter for to be included in essays as a way to highlight them.
Alex recommends getting multiple vets to write letters of recommendation and keep in touch with references to ensure they remain a good recommender.
S4E7: Veterinary Experience
In this episode, Alex and Jeffrey flip roles and Jeffrey shares some of the tricks he has used to gain experience working in veterinary medicine. Jeffrey recommends having a diverse amount of experience with a majority (or at least some) in the field you are planning on going into to show you understand exactly what it is you want.
Jeffrey recommends looking for job listings online to see which clinics need help which you can apply to if you have prior experience, or apply as a volunteer to get your foot in the door. Even when applying as a volunteer always attach a resume. Your resume should typically be only 1 page and you should be able to narrow down and prioritize experiences to accomplish this. He also recommends following up in a professional manner to show you still have interest. You should be willing to take a chance to apply for positions that you are qualified for because you will never get a position if you do not try.
Gaining a variety of experience helps diversify your application but also improve your knowledge on the field of veterinary medicine. Jeffrey also shares some of the differences he has experienced in the switch from small to large animal medicine.
Once you gain some experience you are able to “snowball” your experience via networking through the connections you have made which makes finding new positions much easier. Alex points out the important distinction on the VMCAS with vet, animal, and research experiences for marking things properly.
S4E8: Boosting Our GPA With An AA Alum
In this episode Alex and a pre-vet student discuss the benefits of pursuing a masters, post-bachelors, and non-degree seeking courses to improve GPA. The importance of which classes you are taking lies in the type of course and the rigor. Science classes can help boost your science GPA however if it is too challenging you may risk worsening your GPA. The admissions committee may hold more weight for courses from undergrad as these are foundational and it may be beneficial pursuing them instead.
Alex explains what exactly post-bachelors program and being a non-degree seeking student mean. Alex also gives some tips on finding research experiences outside of university and suggests looking at job postings for research assistants and corporations or even non-animal related research (which still can be included on the VMCAS).
S4E9: Non-Veterinary Experiences
In this episode, Alex and Jeffrey are joined by Kyle Fox, a student recently accepted into the UF CVM who joins to share about his involvement and experiences in leadership. Kyle began attending UF in 2017 and was involved with soccer, Greek life, Dance Marathon, and head of recruitment for Autism Speaks.
Kyle explains how his interview focused heavily on his soccer and how teamwork and diversity were important and developed in this sport. For Greek life he explains that he gained skills in networking in and leadership as well as show his skills for time management. Kyle also shares some of what he learned from all of his other experiences.
Showing a passion outside of veterinary medicine can overcompensate for a lack of vet experience if you only have some time working with a vet. Most every college has a place on their website to find sport teams, clubs, and extra curriculars.
Kyle shares how he is bilingual and how that has helped him with gaining experience and how it can help him in the future as a veterinarian. Kyle and Jeffrey talk about the different routes they took with how long they have spent at UF and how that has changed their approach om applying.
We also get to hear how Kyle gained his experience in research and how he pursued this. Jeffrey shares his theory of “planning for failure” and the importance of having contingency plans to not get in and have a plan for what you will do to improve,
S4E10: Pros And Cons Of A Masters With A Lawyer
In this episode, Alex is joined by a pre-vet student currently in a Masters program with a non-traditional background coming from working as a lawyer and switching to veterinary medicine. We get an inside look on the experience he has had and show that it is never too late to pursue veterinary medicine.
For this student specifically, they are considering stopping their Masters due to a lack of interest in the topic, the financial benefit, and how you can give those as reasons rather than excuses.
When coming from a non-traditional background, itis important to ensure you have fulfilled your pre-requisite courses. You may also want to utilize the explanation statement section to explain why your alternate path may have led to some discrepancies on your application.
With this particular student who has already proven they can handle high level course loads due to their completing law school; Alex expresses that taking some pre-requisite courses at a less rigorous college to save money likely shouldn’t be an issue since they have already proven that they can handle these harder courses.
S4E11: Letters Of Recommendation
In this episode, Alex and Jeffrey do a who, what, where, when, why, how for letters of recommendation. Alex highly suggests you check the box waiving your right to view your recommendation as this can be a red flag for the admissions committee.
The importance of recommendations is that it shows vet schools what you are like in the real world, since they already know how you perform in school. You also have to make sure you are meeting the requirements for who should write your letter (academic, veterinarian, e.c.t). The people who write your letter should be from a non-family member who knows you well and has worked with you for a substantial amount of time. Jeffrey shares the people who are writing his letters of recommendation and why they meet those qualifications.
It is also recommended only having one letter per practice (you can get a committee letter to combine multiple vets). Alex recommends asking for letters in person and asking if they feel comfortable writing a strong letter of recommendation. You should also give them adequate time to complete their recommendation.
Outlining a letter of recommendation or creating a skeleton or simply telling the recommender what you want them to include in their letter. Alex recommends 2 veterinarians and an academic recommender. Asking for letters to be due earlier then the true deadline is beneficial for avoiding any incidents resulting in you not reaching the minimum 3 letters.
S4E12: Changing Career Paths With A New Pre-Vet
In this episode, Alex is joined by an undergrad student switching from pharmacology to veterinary medicine. Alex how her original path of having an understanding of pharmacology can be used as a benefit in showing knowledge and can be used to show she pursued and considered other options before knowing that vet med was the path for her.
Alex recommends prioritizing the areas of importance, stating that while variety in species worked with is beneficial, having a strong clinical foundation is vital. She suggests getting this foundation as soon as possible. She also explains how getting a paid position at a clinic can be helpful in showing your level of responsibility as opposed to just being a volunteer.
Using non-vet experiences can be incredibly helpful if you are able to relate the skills learned to help with veterinary medicine. You should be able to relate skills from any position to being helpful to some degree within the veterinary world.
S4E13: UF Program Details
In this episode, Alex and Jeffrey delve into the program specific section of the VMCAS focusing on the UF CVM. Be sure to look at the program details for individual schools as they are all different. The first part is some relevant information such as having ties to Florida, if you are a repeat applicant, state funding and much more.
The video essay and diversity essay were covered in our Essay episode, and Alex adds on that for your diversity essay you should show that you are “thinking globally as well as locally” when discussing diversity.
Alex explains the pre-requisite inventory form which shows which courses match to satisfy each pre-requisite. You may fill out this form online or by hand and scan it in. This form is to help UF identify these classes but be sure that they in fact do by looking at the UF CVM website.
VMCAS deadline is September 15th however you should submit sooner in case any issues should arise. You should also be aware of the individual colleges requirements or suggestions which may differ.
Alex addresses some of the red flags and important details to pay attention to when filling out your application. Alex and Jeffrey also recommend keeping all of your information well organized so it can be more easily transferred into your VMCAS.
As a final reminder the content in this episode is exclusive to the UF CVM.
S4E14: Acceptance Decisions With An Admitted Student
In this episode, Alex is joined by a student who was accepted into the UF CVM and is working on deciding whether to accept. The student discussed the different draws to UF including the business certificate offered.
Alex covers the culture around UF and what makes us shine. UF vet school handbook helps outline certificates, clubs, dress code, and other requirements such as having a laptop. The vet school has two counselors and wellness events for mental health on top of resources from the main campus that vet students keep access to.
The student in question applied to Mississippi, Auburn, and Florida. She shares some of the reasons she was drawn to each and why she eventually chose UF. Alex also touches on some of the benefits to living in Florida before they end of the episode
S4E14: The Explanation Statement
In this episode, Alex and Jeffrey discuss what to do about some of those “oops moments” you may have had and what you can do to explain yourself to the admissions committees. This section is for information to explain missing information, situational impacts, and any pertinent information to explain why certain parts of the application are how they are.
To find the explanation statement look under the personal information section and find other information and scroll to the bottom.
Alex explains that this section is a place for reasons, not excuses. She also suggests not explaining things that don’t really need an explanation because you may be drawing attention to an issue that wouldn’t otherwise be a concern. This can also be an issue when you give too much information. Alex gives some examples of a good explanation and what can potentially be oversharing.
Another part related to this section is felonies, misdemeanors, and academic infractions. Alex suggests if you are unsure what you must disclose to contact VMCAS or your school of interest’s program. This section is not a deal breaker and gives applicants a chance to explain.
Alex’s last piece of advice is to ask a friend or family to look at your application and for you yourself to read through your application, experiences, letters of rec, and essays to see if there is anything you feel is missing.
S4E16: Reviewing Opportunities With A UF Undergrad
In this episode, Alex is joined by an organized student with a list of questions about competitiveness and opportunities for improvement. Alex suggests the Princeton review book for practicing for the GRE and learning how to take a timed test efficiently. She also suggests using the magoosh app to improve your vocabulary. You are able to take the test up to 5 times a year, and scores are good for 5 years.
For gaining research, Alex suggests a full semester of research with 75-100 hours of research. She also suggests if you are an animal science major taking more hands-on courses which should be included on your application.
The student asks about non-animal experiences and Alex recommends becoming a TA as an option to gain leadership experience as well as building a relationship with your professors. She also recommends highlighting skills such as being bilingual and how that can help you reach more clients.
Writing down all your activities and seeing any common themes such as in this student’s case not having a car but still finding a way to have all these experiences. She suggests using the STAR method (situation, task, action, results) as a way to answer questions in a very thought filled way and better market yourself.
Due to this season being during the pandemic, Alex cautions that you should avoid assuming that you will be the only one talking about pushing through the struggles of the pandemic (or anything for that matter) and instead focus on “when the situation came up, here’s how I handled it” to show your uniqueness.
Alex finishes this episode by explaining the competitiveness of applying and a few different ways to gauge yourself against and see how competitive you are as an applicant compared to other applicants.
S4E17: The Interview
In this episode, Alex and Jeffrey cover all things interview and start off with sharing the interview prep book as a resource to guide you through the process. Alex suggests breaking the fear of sounding rehearsed by the fact that “knowing your story is practicing, rehearsing is memorizing the answer to questions you think they are going to ask you.”
Some red flags Alex identifies are students not aware of current issues, not being able to answer a question, bad talking others, being distracted, or not articulating why vet med is your passion.
UF interviews are behavioral asking about specific experiences. The interview panel contains 2 admissions committee members and a current DVM student. Some common questions they may ask current issues such as animal rights vs. animal welfare, overpopulation, mental health and wellbeing, compassion fatigue, debt, one health and many more. Keeping up to date on these issues can be found online and in places like DVM 360 or other resources such as FVMA, AVMA and more.
Have an answer for a veterinary and non-veterinary role model, tell me about yourself (past, present, and future) and conflicts or mistakes. When communicating keep eye contact, don’t be monotone but stay a good pace and volume.
Alex gives a practice question to Jeffrey asking “who are you on a team” who gave specific examples and brought it back to how this will help him as a veterinarian. Alex recommends preparing for these questions and knowing what details and impacts they have. Impact refers to numbers, measurable change.
S4E18: Career Decisions With A Double Major
In this episode, Alex is joined by a student who is trying to decide which field of vetmed she would like to pursue. Alex rehashes on paid experience as a vet tech is always preferred and that at least 500 hours and a variety of experience is preferred. Getting exposure in the fields you are interested in is vital to show you know why you want to pursue that field.
Getting mentors is another great resource to understand what field you would like to pursue. Knowing the type of lifestyle that you would like to have can help you gauge what areas would be appropriate for you and is another aspect to take into consideration. After finding this out you should compare the hours, pay, and overall lifestyle of each field to see which fits best for you.
Veterinarians doing wildlife conservation is generally more research related while the hands-on field work is done by other professionals which is something to keep in mind since if you want to be more hands on in these fields there are options besides vet med that will allow you to do so.
Wanting to go into zoo med “cannot be I want to put my hands on a tiger” but instead should be due to an interest in conservation, research, and the medicine itself. Paying attention to these topics can help you decide which area of vet med you choose to pursue.
S4E19: Repeat Applicants
In this episode, Alex and Jeffrey discuss what to do if you do not get in on your first application. With more than 1,700 applicants and only 130 seats for UF, the majority will not get in their first try. The stigma around reapplying can be hard to break, but so many incredible doctors did not get in their first year. “In four years, you are just as much a veterinarian as everyone else,” regardless of how many tries it took to get there.
Alex highly suggests not copy/pasting old essays. You can reuse concepts but you should ideally be rewriting everything, in case the committee looks back at your previous application. Plus, you should have had new experiences to add to your application. Letters of recommendation must be requested again from the same or new recommenders.
Areas of opportunities or weaknesses can be seen in what each school you are applying to is most focused on and how you can improve to meet those standards. Some programs provide feedback on what they feel you should work on.
UF reviews overall, science and last 45 GPA’s. Improving on this can be done post-graduation by being a non-degree seeking student or other programs and taking courses that look impressive and you will do well in. Letters of recommendation can be improved by helping your recommenders getting to know you better to check that box. The experience section is improved by simply gaining more and with more variety.
The podcast ends with an encouraging message from repeat applicants.
S4E20: Strategizing The Application For A Repeat Applicant
In this episode, Alex is joined by a repeat applicant planning their application for next cycle. The first discussion is about GPA and whether or not pursuing a master’s degree is recommended. Alex suggests if your GPA is not much lower than this specific student, then you should not be doing a master’s just for the GPA, but because the subject is a passion you want to pursue.
Alex suggests laying out the things you want every school to know about you on a document and then matching them up with their supplemental essays. Anything that doesn’t fit can go into your personal statement. She suggests explaining terms that might not be universally known to avoid confusion.
Another recommendation from Alex is making the personal statement “your greatest hits” as a way to stand out and show the committee who you are. Use buzzwords such as “research”, “first-generation” and “veterinary technician” to catch the eye of those reviewing your packet. It is also important to remember the personal statement is the place to show who you are; make it personal.
Alex shares a bit about how the UF admissions committee is currently reviewing packets and explains their holistic approach.
Seasons one through four summaries prepared by Cassidy Wagner and Jeffrey Young and edited by Maria Ortiz-Perez and Abigail Post. All links, unless specifically associated with UF CVM, are not affiliated with our institution and are provided as resources only.