Pet Columns, Office of Public Engagement, College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Open House Shows Off the Future of Veterinary Medicine

Pet Column for the week of March 12, 2001

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Services - Veterinary Profession

Office of Public Engagement
2001 S. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, Illinois 61802
Phone: 217/333-2907
By Carrie Gustavson
Information Specialist

Veterinary students from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine are geared up to show you what veterinary medicine is all about. The College's annual Open House on Saturday, April 7, is a once-a-year chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at one of the 27 veterinary schools in the United States and to learn about the diverse interests of the student body -- the future of veterinary medicine.

The student-run Open House is a great way for prospective veterinary students to learn about the profession. You'll see their interests represented by displays on everything from agriculture and acupuncture to zoo medicine.

Many veterinary students seek careers in the traditional practice of dog, cat, horse, or food animal medicine or in emergency medicine, surgery, or ophthalmology, to name a few areas of specialization. Other students lean toward careers in research, where they might study ways to improve animal production or investigate cancer. Still others see themselves working in aquatic animal or zoo medicine or in wildlife conservation.

Jim Buhl, a third-year veterinary student and former high school biology teacher from Rockford, Ill., wants to be a small animal clinician after he graduates. Veterinary medicine held an obvious appeal for Buhl, who not only enjoys working with animals but also loves biology and the interplay between the two.

"I worked at a veterinary clinic for a year and a half as a technician before I applied to veterinary school," he says, "and I got a lot of experience. It gave me a good idea of what it would be like to be a vet, so I knew that veterinary school was a good choice for me."

Andrea Sangster, another third-year student, dreams of landing a job in field conservation. "I'd like to move to Alaska and work with marine mammals or whatever comes my way," she says. "I always wanted to be a veterinarian, but I had other interests, too. After getting a lot of varied experience, I saw I could apply my interests to veterinary medicine."

Before veterinary school, Sangster worked at the Shedd Aquarium, did a research project on gibbons at Lincoln Park Zoo, and worked on an underwater research project in the Caribbean. She also worked in an animal emergency clinic and even in a human hospital.

"My experiences showed me that veterinary medicine was the way to go," she says. "For anyone who is considering vet school, be determined and have faith in yourself, because if you work hard enough and want it enough, then you will achieve your goals."

Buhl and Sangster illustrate the important role experience plays in gaining admission to the four-year veterinary program and preparing for a veterinary career. Approximately 1 out of 3 Illinois applicants and 1 out of 7 non-resident applicants is invited to interview for a spot among the 105 new students enrolled each fall.

Both Buhl and Sangster will be among the students running the April 7 Open House. The event, which lasts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is free and open to the public. It takes place at 2001 S. Lincoln Ave. in Urbana, Ill. Through many hands-on exhibits and demonstrations, Open House reveals the enthusiasm students have for their profession, the joy of working with animals, and the science and technology that goes into improving animal health and production.

For more information about Open House or applying to veterinary school, visit the college Web site at