What does the future hold for veterinary medicine? To answer that question, the Association of American Veterinary Medicine Colleges (AAVMC) requested the help of the National Academy of Sciences in conducting a study on "Workforce Needs in Veterinary Medicine." The study sought to assess not only current workforce estimates, but also the unmet needs that the profession must address in order to remain relevant to society in the years to come.

In May 2012, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies released its findings. The report concludes that there are sectors of unmet need for veterinarians, but the researchers found little evidence of widespread, current workforce shortages. The study found an imbalance in the distribution of veterinarians, and expressed concern about the need for support of veterinary expertise in critical areas, such as public sector
veterinary medicine.

What can an aspiring veterinarian learn from the report?

In this issue of the Pre-Vet Advisor, we'll take a closer look at the workforce study and its implications, report on the the recent launch of the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS), and pass along some important deadline information for those who plan to apply to veterinary medical school.


In This Issue

Veterinary Medicine: A Smart Career Choice

Options for Funding Your Veterinary Medical Education

Start Your Application to Veterinary Medical School

Have You Considered a Career in Research?

What is Veterinary Medical College Application Service?

Quick Links and Important Dates

Veterinary Medicine: A Smart Career Choice   

"I want to become a veterinarian." That goal, often stemming from a heart's desire, reflects a love of both animals and medicine.  Veterinary medicine is a well-respected profession that enables practitioners to heal, alleviate suffering, and practice medicine that serves both animals and people.

If you want to pursue such a noble profession, what effect, if any, should a report that finds no current shortages of veterinarians have on your decision? 

"People love animals, so the pet population is growing along with the growth of the human population. The need for veterinarians to take care of companion animals will always exist," says Dr. Maccabe, the AAVMC's executive director. "Our profession has evolved over time and, no doubt, it will continue to do so. The report identified a number of areas outside of companion animal practice where veterinary expertise is needed and that aspiring veterinarians should consider as options. What's great about a veterinary medical education is that, no matter how the economy goes, it equips graduates with important knowledge and skills that graduates can adapt to many scientific, public health, and medical endeavors."

As examples, Dr. Maccabe cites the need for veterinary expertise related to bioterrorism and emergency preparedness, environmental health, food safety and security, food production systems, regulatory medicine, diagnostic laboratory medicine, biomedical research, health promotion and disease prevention, public health research, academia, and epidemiology.

"Although the veterinary workforce of today may bear little resemblance to the one 10-15 years from now the goal of becoming a veterinarian is still a smart choice," says Dr.  Maccabe.  "I'm a living example of the fact that a veterinary medical degree can take a nontraditional path that leads to an exciting and rewarding career."
Options for Funding Your Veterinary Medical Education

Without a doubt, as the workforce report points out, obtaining a veterinary medical degree is expensive.

Nevertheless, higher education is a much better investment than almost any other alternative, even for the "Class of the Great Recession," according to an analysis from the Brookings Institutions. And despite the costs of a veterinary medical education, there are new loan repayment and forgiveness options, as well as scholarships, which make obtaining a veterinary medical degree financially achievable.

It helps to plan ahead as veterinary medical salaries can vary greatly.  Do you want work as a part-time associate while you raise a family, or do you plan to own your own practice?  Do you want to work in an equine practice or pursue research?  Even those who graduate with debt typical of medical professionals ($100,000-plus) can minimize the impact of that debt by choosing career paths that either take advantage of loan repayment and forgiveness programs, or that offer more lucrative salaries. 

Learn more. 


Get Started on Your Application to Veterinary Medical School

The VMCAS application cycle for enrollment in 2013 is now open and you can get started on your application to veterinary medical school.

The VMCAS system will walk you through the process, and before it delivers the application to your designated school(s), you will need to complete the following:
  1. The VMCAS application, completed and submitted online
  2. A minimum of three letters of evaluation, submitted electronically through the VMCAS evaluator portal
  3. The VMCAS application fee
Please be aware that your designated school(s) will require that you submit additional materials to them directly. These include: official GRE test scores, official transcripts; and, in some cases, supplemental applications.

Go to the VMCAS section, found on the AAVMC website, to begin your application!

Have You Considered a Career in Research?   



Dr. Stephen Badylak's research is leading to amazing advancements in regenerative medicine.  

When people ask Dr. Stephen Badylak what he does for a living, he has a simple response: "I make body parts."

The more complicated answer is that he's a veterinarian, physician, and pathologist who is also a research professor in the Department of Surgery and director of tissue engineering at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, where he takes a novel approach to healing that involves use of a biologic scaffold material to reconstitute missing or injured soft tissue, initiate wound healing and stimulate tissue regeneration.

His approach involves harnessing the human body's amazing, built-in ability to heal itself, but in a way that's more akin to what occurs in the womb than what usually happens to mature body parts. Usually, once any significant amount of body tissue is injured, the body's immune system kicks in with a protective process of inflammation and scarring. But Badylak has discovered a way to circumvent the scarring response, recruit the body's own stem cells, and regrow lost tissue, complete with blood vessels and nerves. 

Learn more.  


What is the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS)?

The Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) is a centralized application service sponsored by the AAVMC. Applicants use VMCAS to apply to most of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited colleges in the United States and abroad.

VMCAS collects, processes, and ships application materials to veterinary colleges designated by the applicant, and responds to applicant, advisor, parent, and school inquiries about the application process. VMCAS does not participate in the admissions selection process.

VMCAS Launch Date:

This year (VMCAS 2013), the application opened on June 7, 2012, and the deadline to complete the VMCAS application and all evaluations is October 2, 2012 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

You can find a link to the application in the Students, Applicants & Advisors section of the
AAVMC website.


 Student and Advisor Hotline:  202-682-0750

VMCAS Email Address:

VMCAS Fax Number: 202-682-1122


Quick Links and Important Dates
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July 2012

Coordinated by the AAVMC Admissions Committee 




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Veterinary Medical Colleges

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