Fall 2013

Greetings from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

Dr. Maccabe“Suggested” deadlines are like suggested speed limits – observed by some and ignored by others. That’s why the AAVMC’s Veterinary Medical Application Service (VMCAS) would like to thank the significant number of applicants who completed veterinary medical school applications by the suggested September 1 deadline. Many incomplete applications remain in the system, awaiting a candidate’s momentous, potentially life-changing decision to hit the “submit” button, and that’s perfectly all right. The penalty-free, suggested deadline has come and gone and the “for-real” deadline of October 2 is now a mere week away. Despite mounting deadline pressure, there is still time to complete the application process. It’s a process that will launch approximately 2,800 successful applicants on a path that will eventually lead to rewarding careers in veterinary medicine. In that pursuit, we wish our readers every success. Get some last-minute reminders, learn about a veterinarian who provides high-level care to military working dogs, plus learn about the AAVMC’s plan to shed light on who decides to pursue a veterinary medical education and why – all in this issue of the Pre-Vet Advisor.

Dr. Andrew Maccabe
AAVMC Executive Director

Oct. 2 Deadline for Completing Applications to Veterinary Medical School Nears

If you plan on applying to veterinary medical school, don’t let the opportunity slip away. Please remember the following deadline for the submission of application materials:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013, at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST)

Transition to Modernized Systems Underway

Modernization is sometimes a bumpy ride. Prior to today’s lightning-fast broadband speeds, getting online required waiting while listening to the buzz and hum of making a dial-up connection. And not long ago, bandwidth issues often interrupted online videos with long, annoying buffering pauses. Eventually, gains in experience and technology overcame those roadblocks. Likewise, our transition to smoother, more efficient application processes may include an unintended consequence or two. In the end, though, this transition will create a vastly improved system. We thank you in advance for your patience and support as we modernize and refine our processes.

Transcript verification begins with this application cycle, meaning that applicants only have to send one set of transcripts to VMCAS rather than sending multiple copies to multiple schools. The implementation of this new practice, combined with the move to new software, might mean a delay in posting transcripts, which could also mean a delay in the transfer of completed applications to schools. However, schools will be able to begin the evaluation process earlier by viewing pending applications in the system. The important thing to remember is that VMCAS will accept transcripts up until the Oct. 2 deadline, provided that applicants submit all materials by the deadline.

Please remember these important pointers as you fill out your veterinary medical school application:
  • Review your application carefully to make sure that the data is accurate.
  • You do not have to wait for all your evaluations or transcripts to be received by VMCAS to submit your application.
  • In addition to completing the application, be sure to submit your transcript and three electronic references.
  • Print your completed application for your records BEFORE delivering it electronically to VMCAS. (Do not send printed applications to VMCAS.)
  • Submit your application to VMCAS before 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, October 2, 2013.
Remember, it's our goal to provide all the tools you need to prepare for your academic journey in veterinary medicine!

Find an applicant checklist and other reminders here.

Digging Into the “How’s” and “Why’s” of Veterinary Medical Education

What inspires and motivates students to decide to pursue a veterinary medical education? The AAVMC wants to know. That’s why we will soon conduct a national, web-based survey of college and university undergraduates enrolled in pre-vet or other healthcare programs. Our goal is to assess their perceptions or misconceptions about veterinary medicine. “We want to discover where likely veterinary medical school applicants are, what they’re doing, and what drives them,” said Tony Wynne, the AAVMC’s director of admissions and recruitment affairs.

Two additional surveys – for a total of three – will look at the perceptions of educational advisors toward veterinary medicine and the self-perception of practicing veterinarians. “We also want to assess the mindset of academic advisors and practicing veterinarians who are in a position to influence and shape the decisions of prospective veterinary medical school applicants,” said Wynne.

The survey of undergraduate pre-vet and health advisors will assess:
  • Awareness levels regarding veterinary medicine
  • Ability to recognize distinguishing features of individual school programs
  • Capacity to identify trusted sources of information about veterinary medicine
The AAVMC sponsored similar surveys of students and pre-vet advisors in 2006, but expects a new survey to yield valuable, more up-to-date information. The instrument is also designed to detect changes or emerging trends.

A telephone survey of practicing veterinarians will assess professional self-image and the role of practicing veterinarians in the recruitment of young veterinarians. AAVMC launched this new survey in recognition of the fact that active veterinarians can play an influential role in shaping the goals and decisions of prospective students and future practitioners.

Providing High-level Care to Military Working Dogs

Military working dogs serve on everything from a presidential detail to search and rescue missions or border patrol. Some of the most elite dogs accompany U.S. Special Forces.
It's not only humans who serve in our nation's military. There are more than 2,500 military working dogs (MWDs) on duty worldwide and Colonel Bess Pierce, DVM, DABVP, DACVIM, is one of the veterinarians responsible for their care. MWDs train alongside soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines; they also might parachute out of planes and accompany Special Forces soldiers on dangerous and secret missions.

Dr. Pierce, who is an associate professor at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM), doubles as one of the highest-ranking veterinarians stationed in Europe with the U.S. Army Reserve Corps. It's a career that aligns well with her long-held interest in canine sports medicine and conditioning for all working dogs, either as a part of their intense physical conditioning or for rehabilitation of injuries.
Pierce explains that, in addition to fulfilling their roles as military service dogs, canines work closely with law enforcement agencies and the Transportation Safety Administration to detect drugs or explosives. Almost all working dogs receive scent training and assignments might include everything from a presidential detail to search and rescue or border patrol, with most dogs involved in explosives detection. Pierce says that working dogs are capable of tracking target odors for either an object or a person, and that the lowest known level of a scent tag detected by a dog is 500 parts per trillion.

After graduating with a doctor of veterinary medicine degree (DVM) from Auburn University in 1992, Pierce joined the Army Veterinary Corp, which is responsible for military dogs’ veterinary medical care and conditioning across all branches of the military. During the 15 years she spent on active duty, Pierce worked with MWDs in many parts of the world and, from 2003 to 2006, served as chief of internal medicine at the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Veterinary Service (DODMWDVS) at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Since then, the veterinary facilities have expanded into an area known as “Dog Center” at Lackland, where Veterinary Corp officers (VCOs) work closely with a U.S. Air Force unit that is primarily responsible for the dogs’ training. Now a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, Pierce works with military canines as the reserve director of the DODMWDVS at the Holland Military Dog Working Hospital, a “state-of-the-art facility that offers every possible treatment,” where she also helps establish and maintain policy related to U.S. military working dogs worldwide. At the same time, in her civilian job as a VMRCVM faculty member, Pierce and the community practice team provide care for a variety of working and service dogs.

Learn more and view a slide show of military working dogs.
Did you Know? Veterinary Medical School Admission by the Numbers ...

Did you know that VMCAS represents about 90 percent of the applicant pool? For the 2012-2013 school year, 6,766 VMCAS applicants submitted an average of 4.1 applications each.

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