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Chat Becoming an exotic vet.

PiggleLove2013

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Hi everyone,

Do we have any members who are exotic vets? Retired or still active? If so, I'd love to know how to become one. I am in high school and since it is time to lean towards a career of my choice, I want to be an exotic vet. I don't really know where to start with questions, maybe a summary of what I need to do and what training/qualifications I'll need?
 

bpatters

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We don't have any members (at least no active ones) that are vets. Your best bet would be to contact a veterinary association that has an associated group of exotic vets and see if they have any information on what is required. One organization is the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians -- there may be others.
 

MrCavyMadness

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I am also becoming an exotic vet. Im a sophomore in HS
 

kanojochan

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The first major hurdle is getting into veterinary school. Once you're in, they teach you medicine for all animals; small animals would be primarily dogs and cats. Large animal would be horses, cattle, sheep, goats, etc. Exotics would be your rodents, birds, reptiles, etc. After your initial couple of years studying the books, you'll have rotations (hands-on experience in an actual hospital/clinic/zoo) for another couple of years, and then licensing exams to pass.

The steps to becoming an exotics vet are the same as becoming a small or large animal vet. Where you choose to work will have the biggest impact on the quality and type of work experience you get. Other veterinarians in similar fields will be your biggest resource for information, and they will be your mentors and teachers. Focus your efforts on becoming involved with zoos, rehabilitation centers, and exotics hospitals if you want to specialize in that area.

This is a very simplified idea of what you'll need to accomplish. It's not easy, but it's a great field to work in! I wouldn't trade it for anything :]
 

sallyvh

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I am a 3rd year university student with the hopes of becoming a veterinarian.

Now just to let you know the process of becoming a vet, no matter what type, varies from country, state, or province.

I'm in Ontario Canada, currently in 3rd year Biological Science at the University of Guelph and this is my process for becoming a vet.

Since you guys are in High School I recommend you taking taking grade 11 and 12 Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Functions and Calculus. These are usually requirements for a science program at any university. For my university the minimum average you could have for admission was 82%. This varies though, some schools will be a high 70 or high 80's.

For me, once you are in University you need to complete a minimum of 4 semesters(2 years), then if you have met all the prerequisites you can apply to the OVC (Ontario Veterinary College) during your 5th semester. You would then find out if you were accepted during your 6th semester. This sounds pretty confusing but pretty much you do 3 years of regular university, then if you are accepted into vet school, instead of doing your final year of university, you then start your first year veterinary college. Vet school is 4 years long.

For acceptance to vet school you need a minimum average of 75% in your prerequisite courses which are:
-Genetics
-Cell Biology
-Biochemistry
-Statistics
-3 different bio courses with a focus on Animal Biology
-2 humanities or social science courses

You also need volunteer experience. You need 2 letters of recommendation from different licensed vets. You should be trying to volunteer with as many different kinds of animals, especially farm animals. Try asking vet clinics or SPCA's.

You also need to write the MCAT and do a series of interviews before you find out if you're accepted.

Vet school is 4 years long and is general in all animal care. You will work with large animals (Horses, cows, sheep, pigs, ect.) and small animals (Dogs and Cats). You may not have any formal training with rodents or reptiles. This is why exotic vets are always recommended for Guinea pigs as small animal vets generally do not know much about them.

In your 3rd and 4th year of vet school you will get to work clinic rotations and get hands on vet experience. Then in your final year you get to perform your own surgery. It will always be a spay or neuter.

Once you graduate vet school you still need to work under a vet for 1 year. At that time you are eligible to write your exams to become a fully licensed and certified vet.

If after all of this you want to specialize in exotics or anything else (neurology, cardiology, ect.) you need to work under a certified specialist for 3 years. After that time there are more tests and things for you to do to become a licensed specialist in whatever field!

So this has turned into an unorganized essay but essentially, in Canada in order to become a full exotic vet it will take you at least 11 years to be able to work on your own.

I have decided to finish my degree before going to vet school though so I will still be a little bit longer.

If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask, it's probably best for you to contact your high school guidance counselor for info about university and beyond in your state!
 

Smashley

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I think @sallyvh gave you a very good answer, with a lot of awesome information! :)

I just wanted to add a couple more things... My local vet clinic offers job shadows. This is where you're able to come into the clinic, and follow one of the vets around for the day. You can watch them interact with clients, and preform tests and treatments. You're also able to go into the surgery room, and watch the entire surgery happen right there in front of you. Since you're still in high school, I think now would be a perfect time to try "shadowing" a local vet. I would suggest going into one of your local clinics (or give them a call), and ask them about job shadowing. See if that's something they offer, and ask about how it works. You'll probably want to "shadow" a vet several different times, just to get a good overview as to what a vet might be doing on a day-to-day basis. You also might want to consider "shadowing" different vets at different clinics, if that would be a possibility. I think it's one of the best ways to decide whether or not you actually want to become a vet.

Also, take advantage of the opportunities you might have around your community. A lot of community education organizations will offer "pet first-aid" classes. Although this will be just skimming the surface of what you'd be doing as a vet, I took one of these classes, and I think it would be a great place for you to start. Also, consider volunteering at your local animal shelter. Caring for animals is just going to be another part of your job as being a vet. Might as well start getting some experience with that now, right? Not to mention that it will look good at your vet school application. Also, if you express your interest in becoming a vet, you might just get the chance to work along side one of the vets at the shelter.

I wish you the best of luck! :)
 

Gforcepiggies

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I am about to become a vet student, next year. I am in all fields including large animals and exotics.
For me, I had to spend 1000 volunteer hours and take AP Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.
In college, I had to start four years of biology, which I will be done with in the summer. The Vet abroad program helps with extra points. It's a real cool thing, called Loop Abroad.
Next year, I hopefully will graduate to the vet program at my college. Right now I'm at CU Boulder, and I will be at CSU next year. I am hoping to get in since only 81 out of hundreds of applicants get in every year.
 

PiggleLove2013

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Thank you all for the info! Now that I see it it does seem like a lot of work to get in, but I am sure that it's worth it. Too bad my worst subject is Science... Oh well, I suppose if I just study it more I can do it!
 

sallyvh

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I would say that if you really want to become a vet just buckle down and try your best at the sciences. You don't need to be amazing at certain aspects of sciences in order to become a vet you just need to be able to get through it.

Personally I am very strong in biology of most kinds. My favorites are pathology, immunology and genetics. I'm not very strong in calculus or chemistry though. I in fact did not pass my first year chemistry course. I just didn't let it get me down and took it again. If you do mess a class up it isn't the end of the world and you can still succeed!

It's hard to be bad at "science" there are so many different fields and avenues to science which means you probably won't be awesome at all of it but I bet once you get deeper into more specific topics you will find some stuff that you're great at!

Just remember to keep an open mind and try your best :)
 

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