Wildlife Encounters - 9th - 12th grade
Lesson 4: Wildlife Rehabilitation
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Become a Wildlife Veterinarian!


Does wildlife rehabilitation and medicine sound interesting to you? You could be a wildlife veterinarian some day! The first step to becoming a wildlife doctor is to become a veterinarian. Here are some things to think about if you are interested in being a veterinarian:

  • Is veterinary medicine right for me?
    Are you interested in animals, medicine, science? Do you like helping people? Do you like unraveling mysteries? Do you like real challenges? If you say "yes," then veterinary medicine may be for you.
  • What courses should I take in high school?
    Take a college preparatory program that includes all major subjects (English, history, languages, etc.) and be sure to include as much as you can of biology, chemistry, physics, and math. Computer skills are also valuable.
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    Is veterinary clinic experience or animal care experience valuable?
    Absolutely, yes! Students should start at an early age working or volunteering for a veterinarian, zoo, food animal producer, or local stable or animal shelter. Try to gain experiences with many animal species, not just cats and dogs.

    Track the hours of experience you gain and consider keeping a journal of what you learn through these experiences. When you apply to veterinary college you will need to articulate all of the animal experiences you have had, and a journal will help you remember to include everything.

    You will also be asked, in the application process, to write a personal statement. Your experiences will provide wonderful information about you for the admissions committee.
  • What would be the best college to attend for my undergraduate work?
    studentsChoosing the right college is a very important life decision. Take your time and research your options. Use the college guides and apply to the colleges that best suit you with regard to size and academic demand. A "good fit" will likely result in good academic success. Resist choosing a college based on its athletic achievements or its social atmosphere if you are serious about attending veterinary college.
  • What should I study at college?
    Any major is acceptable, and you should choose one you will enjoy. However, your studies should be planned to provide the opportunity to take many science courses, including biology, chemistry, and physics with laboratory components.
  • When can I enter veterinary college?
    Veterinary studies generally come after completion of a four-year undergraduate college experience. Completion of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree requires four years of additional study.
  • After completing my veterinary medicine studies, what kinds of careers are available to me?
    A significant percentage of veterinary graduates are engaged in private practice individually or as a partner in a group clinic. There are small animal (focusing on dogs and cats) and large animal (horses, cattle, pigs) practice opportunities. There is also the chance to work in "public" practice in food safety, public health (including bio-terrorism research), animal disease control, and the military. Private industry offers exciting opportunities for the D.V.M. in the fields of nutrition and pharmaceuticals, e.g., conducting research for new products for animals, analyzing drug effects, and nurturing the well-being of laboratory animal colonies. Other career areas include zoo animal care, food resource management, marine biology, and wildlife preservation.
  • Where can I learn more about the study of veterinary medicine?
    A good source of information would be the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges at www.aavmc.org. Also, visit the Web site of the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine at www.cvm.uiuc.edu. You can make an appointment to visit with an admissions adviser by calling 217/333-1192. Tours of the College can be arranged by calling the same number.
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