Veterinary medicine is a promising field, with a projected job growth rate surpassing most professions and a mission that is in sync with society’s growing concern for animal wellbeing and welfare. A knack for science is not enough to become a great veterinarian. Being an animal lover may be given too, but that’s not enough either.
Great veterinarians are compassionate, competent, patient, and very adept at problem solving. It takes an outstanding school to nurture, hone, and channel these skills in an effective and impactful way.
There are only a handful of veterinary medicine schools in the country. According to one source, there are only 30 accredited vet med schools in the entire country! With a small number of slots at only a handful of schools across the country, one can imagine that getting into any of these programs is fiercely competitive. Even states that are dotted with myriad educational institutions, like California, have only two vet med programs.
Although Florida is home to many top-notch schools for various fields and disciplines, there is only one veterinary medicine program. Perhaps it is not surprising that the University of Florida is home to the sole veterinary medicine program in the entire state. It is already renowned as a large research university, with a slew of nationally recognized departments and programs.
We present to you Florida’s one and only vet med program, which also happens to be one of the best in the country and across the world.
University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine
The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine prides itself in training the next generation of veterinarians for careers at private practices, in research, or in government. The university’s Veterinary Medicine program consistently ranks among the top ten schools on the US News & World Report veterinary schools ranking.
It joins this prestigious list along with 28 other UF graduate programs that seem to land at the top of USNWR rankings perennially. The University of Florida is one of the largest and most reputable research universities in the nation.
This public school is located in the city of Gainesville. Gainesville boasts a thriving and diverse economy and a highly educated workforce, making it an advantageous location for anyone looking to start a career in veterinary medicine. In addition to fruitful economic opportunities, the city is also abundant in arts, culture, and entertainment. UF students work hard and play hard.
The College of Veterinary Medicine leads the world in research toxicology, infectious disease, and immunology, garnering millions of dollars in research awards. College of Veterinary Medicine researcher and professor Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan is a recent example of the college’s flourishing research program. Dr. Dinglasan was awarded $6 million to test a new malaria vaccine, putting the college and its faculty in the international spotlight.
Overall, veterinary students receive world-class education and training. Throughout the three-phase D.V.M curriculum, students develop a strong foundation in the basic sciences, develop and hone patient care and clinical skills via experiential courses, and apply their knowledge in clinical clerkships.
The most salient thread in a UFCVM education is experience. Vet students enter the professional world with the best laboratory and classroom instruction, beginning their careers with ample experience. Students have the option of seeking out and securing experiential opportunities through numerous externships. The program handily manages a database to aid students who are seeking extramural opportunities.
While the college equips students with the foundational skills and experience needed to succeed in varied career paths, the D.V.M. program also confers certificates in specialized tracks for those who want to boost their postgraduate opportunities.
UFCVM offers certificates in Aquatic Animal Health, Food Animal, Shelter Medicine, and Veterinary Business Management. The Veterinary Business Management program is geared towards veterinary students who want to run their own private practice. Students are trained in every aspect of operating a successful business, including finance and employee management, and are required to take courses in Professional Development, Entrepreneurship, and Business Management.
Another veterinary school program, the program in Aquatic Animal Health, is one of the most comprehensive in the country, working in partnership with other UF programs as well as local, state, federal, and private organizations and groups.
Whatever the desired career path, UFCVM’s experience-centered approach more than adequately prepares students to fruitfully pursue their dreams. While numbers and stats do not fully capture a school’s profile, they do sometimes convey measurable success. For almost ten years, UFCVM students have passed the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) in flying colors, scoring well above 90%!
The college does not earn such prestige and success with bright students and world-renowned faculty alone. An excellent curriculum seldom stands on its own without technology, tools, and resources. The Clinical Skills and Techniques Lab is outfitted with the most up-to-date and state-of-the-art technology, enhancing veterinary students’ training and education, and classrooms are equipped with the latest multimedia and computing technology. UF’s Small and Large Animal hospitals, also equipped with the best facilities and diagnostic laboratories, treat thousands of animals. The hospitals are managed by board-certified specialists and serve as training grounds for vet med residents and interns completing their education and training.
How to Get Accepted
In Fall 2020, the college received 1,372 applications, and out of those applicants, only 8% were admitted. What does it take to get into the College of Veterinary Medicine?
A snapshot of the class of 2024 can give prospective students a pretty good idea of the admissions process, specifically, what the admissions committee is looking for.
The average overall GPA for the entering class was 3.56, and the science GPA was 3.47. A majority of applicants majored in biology or animal science, and most hail from the Northeast. However, there is no preference given to candidates with an undergraduate background in STEM.
Many matriculated students majored in the social sciences or the humanities, such as public relations, music, or psychology. We want to underscore the point that although an undergraduate major in the biological sciences is not required, UFCVM, like most veterinary medical schools and colleges, requires applicants to complete a series of science and math courses with a letter grade of “C” or better. Applicants are required to take biology (with lab), microbiology, statistics, genetics, organic chemistry, and a handful of other courses. Biochemistry, genetics, and microbiology with lab must be taken at a four-year institution, while the other courses can be taken at either a two or four-year institution.
According to the Admissions Committee, the top candidates not only demonstrated high academic achievement, but also exhibited an eagerness to learn. They additionally have collaborative attitudes, a strong interest in personal and social responsibility, and a keen passion for the well-being of animals, humans, and the environment. How can the admissions committee glean all of this from an application?
Beyond the technical requirements, such as an application submitted through the centralized application service, the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS), prospective students are required to submit three letters of recommendation, essay questions, and a resume detailing academic and relevant, veterinary experiences. These are the open-ended components of an application that allows individual candidates to stand out from the applicant pool and showcase their strengths and unique characteristics.
The Admissions Committee recommends that prospective students integrate at least ten months of continuous work in a veterinary or clinical setting into their undergraduate preparation. This is especially useful since undergraduate pre-vet and animal science are uncommon. The earlier the exposure to veterinary work and research, the better. This is doubly advantageous for candidates who are coming from a non-STEM background. In fact, one of the letters of recommendation must come from a veterinarian.
The prospect of getting admitted to this program may seem quite slim, but not impossible.