Experience is an aspect of the veterinary application where you can really set yourself apart from the other applicants. Veterinary schools like to see that you have a wide range of veterinary and animal experiences. This means that it is important to look for internships starting with your freshman year.
Different veterinary schools have different requirements for the amount of veterinary and animal experience hours needed. These requirements can be found on each schools veterinary admissions page. 

Animal Experience versus Veterinary Experience:

  • Animal experience includes any activity where you gain hands-on experience in working with animals. This includes volunteering at humane societies, farms, kennels and zoos.

  • Veterinary experience is any activity where you work directly with a veterinarian. Veterinary schools like to see that you have at least 400 hours of veterinary experience.

Types of experiences to look for:

  • Small animal veterinarian
  •  Dogs, cats, etc.
  •  Livestock veterinarian
  • Exotic veterinarian
  • Wildlife veterinarian
  • Zoological veterinarian 
  • Specialty veterinarians
  •  Surgery, dentistry, pathology, toxicology, radiology, anesthesia, etc.
  • Research
  • Shelters and humane societies
  •  Federal Government <
  •  USDA, NIH, CDC and FDA

Other areas of experience:

Veterinary schools like to see other areas of experience that are not animal or veterinary related. These areas of experience should preferably be outside of the academic realm. Students should try to become involved in community service activities that they have some sort of interest or passion in. These activities help to show veterinary admissions officers the types of values that are important to you and how dedicated you are to giving back to your community. Additionally, veterinary schools like to see that you have taken on some sort of leadership role. This leadership role could be in any activity, some examples are: captain of a team, board member of a club, or president of a club.

Serving the community shows that an individual values helping others. Service can be done in your hometown, at Hamilton, and/or in the surrounding area of Oneida County. Graduate schools look for students who volunteer in service to their communities even if unrelated to healthcare. The Community Outreach and Opportunity Project (COOP) houses many opportunities for students interested in service and can be found on the third floor of the chapel. The COOP oversees a variety of opportunities and organizations such as the Hamilton Association for Volunteering, Outreach, and Charity (HAVOC), A Better Chance (ABC) Tutoring, Hamilton Reads and many more. For more information, visit the COOP website. Additionally, the majority of these programs will send out all-campus emails at the beginning of each semester regarding descriptions of upcoming volunteer opportunities and instructions on how to become involved. Service opportunities range in interests and time commitments in order to attract a diverse body of student volunteers. For further information regarding service, visit the COOP online or in person to learn about the many avenues in which a Hamilton student can get involved.

How to gain experience:

The list of internships provided will help you to find experience that will help to confirm your interest in veterinary medicine. Additionally, if there is a place that you wish to intern, but there is no formal internship listed, it is definitely beneficial for you to get in contact with them. Veterinarians are often very receptive to interest in their field and they may create an internship position for you. This is especially important for gaining experience at small animal practices. Small animal practices typically do not have formal internships, but they may create one for you if you get in contact with them and express what you would hope to get out of an internship with them. 

Those seeking international veterinary experience will find information about several programs on the AAVM web page on International Opportunities in Veterinary Medicine.


Contact Name

Courtney Hance

Director of Health Professions Advising

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