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The AAVMC invites high school students to a very special college and career fair

The AAVMC Veterinary Medical Career Fair is a very well attended annual event at the Westin Hotel.
The AAVMC Veterinary Medical Career Fair is a very well attended annual event at the Westin Hotel.
Nancy Griesemer

High school students considering pre-professional programs in veterinary medicine or animal lovers just curious about what it takes to become a veterinarian should mark calendars for the tenth annual Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) Veterinary Medical Career Fair and information sessions scheduled for Sunday, March 16, from 2:30 to 5 p.m., at the Westin Hotel in Alexandria.

Companion animals are playing a larger role in veterinary medicine.
Nancy Griesemer

This is a terrific opportunity to meet veterinary medical school admissions officials, get advice on getting into veterinary school, and learn about various veterinary medical career opportunities.

Representatives from national and international colleges of veterinary medicine will be on hand to walk students through the application process while explaining the kinds of credentials necessary to attend any of the AAVMC member institutions.

And you may be surprised to learn that some veterinary medical schools are very interested in time spent in animal care related activities as early as high school.

“This year we are tying the career speakers to our overall conference theme: One Health,” explained Lisa Greenhill, AAVMC associate executive director for institutional research and diversity. “As always we'll have sessions for high school students (Dr. Jacque Peltzer from the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech) and for undergraduate students who plan to apply to vet school in the next one to two years (Tony Wynne from AAVMC).”

By the way, US News lists veterinary medicine as among the “best” health care jobs, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a healthy growth rate of veterinary jobs—12 percent between 2012 and 2022.

To meet this need, some of the best-known veterinary programs in the country are expanding—28 accredited vet colleges have increased their class size in recent years, some by as much as 50 percent, according to Inside Higher Ed.

And for high school students thinking ahead, the choice of undergraduate school could possibly fast track acceptance to veterinary medical colleges as opportunities exist for early admission to DVM programs by bypassing completion of the BS.

This year’s AAVMC event will offer four information sessions in addition to the college fair:

  • 3 p.m. – The Undergraduate’s Guide to Applying to Vet School
  • 3 p.m. -- One Health Veterinary Careers
  • 4 p.m. -- What High School and Middle School Students Should Know to Apply in the Future
  • 4 p.m. – Public Practice Careers

“Students visiting the college fair should be sure to ask about summer programs and how to get veterinary-related experience while still in high school,” suggested Ms. Greenhill. “Research programs are available with undergraduate ‘feeder’ opportunities at some vet schools.”

And there are prizes for inquiring students.

“We will also have some giveaways of our annual limited edition ‘I’m a Future Vet’ t-shirt,” said Ms. Greenhill. “We are only giving away a total of 130 shirts this year across all of our recruiting events, so they are extra special!” (Pictures of last year’s shirts may be found on the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) Facebook page).

Students are strongly encouraged to register in advance for the fair. Last year’s event was extremely well attended, and early registration helps conference organizers do a better job.

But if you can't attend, take the time to check out the AAVMC website for information on how to become a veterinarian, including tips on scholarship opportunities as well as information on financing a postgraduate veterinary education.