pre-vet or pre dental/med?

Discussion in 'hSDN' started by horsegirl444, Jul 15, 2017.

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  1. horsegirl444

    horsegirl444

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    Jul 15, 2017
    Just to put this out there, I know that nobody can TELL me what the best option is. However, I'm in a really tough spot and I just need some guidance from people with some experience or knowledge deeper than my own.

    I have loved animals all of my life, and am enrolled in a program at my high school that focuses on just agriculture. So next year I'll be majoring in Vet Science & Animal Science in that. I've volunteered at rescues, farms, dog walking, etc. and I have always wanted to be a veterinarian. However, going into my junior year and looking much deeper into my future, I've realized that the cost of living (and I'd like to live well and check lots of things off of my bucket list haha) is much higher than the salary of the average veterinarian.
    My back up career was/is to become a dentist, or possible a general practictioner. If you can't tell, my career will definitely be in medicine and health, but I'm having a little trouble deciding what my best option would be financially for the future. This includes school cost, debt thereafter, etc. and please don't think that money is all that matters to me. I have to enjoy my job, but I'd also like to live out my young years and no matter what career in medicine I choose, it'll be super hard.
    There's a large part of me that just craves working with animals. I'd love to save them, and also own my own family horse farm to give lessons to riders, and ride all the time haha.
    Anyways if you have any advice or opinions please, help me. Again I know you cannot decide for me but I need assistance in choosing the best career in this day and age.
     
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  3. oelizas

    oelizas

    28
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    Apr 13, 2017
    hSDN Member
    Veterinarian
    pros:
    1. You are doing what you love and what you feel passionate about. In my opinion, this is the most important factor.
    2. It is a less demanding career than being a physician. You would have a more regular lifestyle.
    cons:
    1. The more expensive private veterinary schools cost around the same as medical schools, but the compensation is much less. According to this website, cost of attendance (for all 4 years) at a public institution with in-state resident tuition ranges from $147,000 to $250,000. Non-resident tuition at public institutions ranges from $191,000 to $338,000, and at private institutions the total ranges from $264,000 to $393,000.
    2. Lower salary. The website I linked above said that compensation ranges from 50k-70k, but this website states that the average is 88k. This estimate probably includes all specialties and professions beneath the title "veterinarian," while the first range I mentioned is probably more the salary of a "general practitioner vet."

    Dentist
    pros:
    1. Being a dentist is less demanding than being a doctor. (but possibly more demanding than being a vet.) You would make more money, and actually have enough time to enjoy it.
    2. Much higher salary. Google says that the average is $158,310, but I know that there are certain types of specialists that make more like orthodontists and oral pathologists.
    cons:
    1. You are obviously very passionate about animals, and they would not be a part of your occupation if you became a dentist.
    2. Expensive school and loans to pay back after graduation. Read more here.

    Physician
    pros:
    1. Highest compensation. Average is $187,200, but specialists can make double or triple this number.
    cons:
    1. Being a physician is very demanding. Sure, you will make a lot of money, but depending on your specialty you might not have a lot of time to enjoy it. You will still have to pay off loans as well.
    2. You're not working with animals.

    If you decide to go with your passion, become a vet. If you would like more financial stability, I would say become a dentist. If you don't have a preference between dentistry and medicine, you should probably go with dentistry as the lifestyle is better, and that seems important to you. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  4. WhtsThFrequency

    WhtsThFrequency 10+ Year Member

    15,739
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    Jan 18, 2006
    Veterinarian
    Spoken like someone who has no clue what a vet's schedule can be like, let alone specialties like emergency and surg.

    OP, if you would be just as happy doing human med versus vet med, do human. The compensation to debt ratio is much more in your favor. If you want more info on the profession, feel free to swing by pre-vet and ask - all good people there.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
  5. horsegirl444

    horsegirl444

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    Jul 15, 2017
    thanks so much. I would absolutely love love LOVE to work with animals, but sadly I think that would be the wrong choice and I would not enjoy my life as much as I should be able to because of work hours and paying off debt for many years after I even get out of school, and obviously either way I'm not going to enjoy school because of how demanding it is to go to school for these things. Hopefully when I become whatever I do, I will be able to own my little horse farm and have that part of my life. My next choice of a career was an equine rehabilitation therapist or wildlife biologist, but they make much less than a vet or dentist would haha.
     
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  6. supershorty

    supershorty Minnesota c/o 2020ish 2+ Year Member

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    Jan 14, 2013
    That's nice that you think that, but it's not accurate.

    OP, your best bet would be to shadow in these various professions and experience them. Of the 3, vet med has the worst debt to income ratio. As @WhtsThFrequency said, visit the pre-vet forum if you have questions about careers in vet med! :)
     
  7. oelizas

    oelizas

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    Apr 13, 2017
    hSDN Member
    Really, it's great that you have your sights narrowed on healthcare. As a junior in high school, you still have plenty of time to make this decision, and it's okay if your perspective changes over time. I think that dentistry is a great field to be going into, if it were not for my interest in medicine that's where I would go.

    Just so you understand what I meant when I said demanding, I did not just mean "busy schedule." That's just one aspect. I was comparing the role of a veterinarian to a physician more than a dentist, so I will elaborate there. I understand fully that we often form emotional bonds with their pets, and it is devastating to lose them. Seriously, I have 7 pets and I cry every time I go to the animal shelter. I have no doubt that seeing animals in pain or putting them down when they are sick is extremely difficult, and I am very appreciative of what vets do. I'm just saying that when you tell someone that their wife or child is dead, you are changing their life forever. Depending on your specialty, this may be something that you have to get used to doing. Dealing with human patients is completely different from treating animals, and I would personally say that this makes being a doctor a more emotionally taxing career. This doesn't even include the constant pressure from the families of patients, some of which are more cooperative than others. I believe that veterinarians do have malpractice insurance or something similar, but doctors must pay much more to protect themselves. I won't even go into life as an intern or resident. Becoming and working as a doctor is very complicated.

    I agree that shadowing a veterinarian, a dentist, and a physician is a great idea if you can't decide. You would have the opportunity to ask them questions about the lifestyle of their occupation, as well as any other things you are curious about.
     
  8. WhtsThFrequency

    WhtsThFrequency 10+ Year Member

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    Veterinarian

    I understand where you are coming from and of course human life > animal life, but you are neglecting the fact that we deal primarily with owners, and you wouldn't believe the amount of abuse vets get on a daily basis from clients - especially when it comes to financial things, treatment options, etc. Sometimes your day is nothing but being told what a terrible greedy person you are because you won't perform a surgery for free or make XYZ less expensive, how you can't possible love animals - why won't you save my animal, or what a hateful doctor you are because you won't magically make the horse/dog/exotic/whatever better, or how they read XYZ on the internet and *they* know what their animal has and why the hell are you trying to disagree with them, people threatening to sue you over anything and everything, etc. Vets have been hounded to death (literally) by bully clients.

    Let alone those days where you have to euthanize basically everything that comes in the door. Killing things day and in day out gets rough. Or the constant feeling of having your hands tied because what you can do to save the patient is completely dependent on the finances of the owner - it could be a simply surgery that the owner simply can't pay for and you have to put down a "saveable" animal - happens all the time. And then, of course, they blame you for it, calling you a horrible person because you wouldn't do it anyway for free, and then try to destroy your rep on Yelp or whatever. In "human medicine" most people can get the treatment they need due to insurance - we don't have that luxury.

    Combine that with the constant background stress of struggling with immense debt? Whump. Compassion fatigue is a huge issue in veterinary medicine and a big contributor to why our suicide rate is alarming and why our general mental health is in the toilet as a profession (last survey I looked at said about one in six has considered suicide, and depression is rampant). I'd say that both human and veterinary medicine can be equally taxing. Take it from someone who actually has been there/is here. Being a vet is extremely mentally and emotionally difficult and absolutely something that people need to take into account when considering the career.

    Sidenote: veterinarians can and do pursue internships and residencies as well if they so choose - I myself did - so we are no stranger to the intern/resident life. Half the time I don't know when the surgery residents even sleep at our institution.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  9. oelizas

    oelizas

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    Apr 13, 2017
    hSDN Member
    Thank you for your perspective, I've never thought about the influence that owners must have before. Especially the points that you made about being blamed for not performing surgeries that can't be funded, that's a tough reality to face but it's definitely not fair to blame the vet. I've only had one pet euthanised before, and I was at school while I happened so I wasn't there to experience it. However, I understand how difficult it must be to euthanise an animal while knowing that there's something you can do to help, if only there was funding.

    Again, I really appreciate your insight. I, as well as most other pet owners (maybe excuding the ones who leave mean reviews on your Yelp), really appreciate what you do.
     
  10. WhtsThFrequency

    WhtsThFrequency 10+ Year Member

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    Thanks and no problemo. I think a lot of people underestimate how much vets truly interact with clients and, due to the financial nature of our business, how draining those interactions can often be. The inside joke in vet med is that if someone's reason for wanting to be a vet is that "they love animals more than people" or "hate people and love animals" or what have you.....they are going to be a pretty miserable vet :laugh:. Because guess who you are interacting with/explaining things to/educating/discussing treatment options with for most of your day? It sure as heck ain't the horse. You need a thick skin to make it.
     
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  11. oelizas

    oelizas

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    That makes total sense. I'll be sure to be extra appreciative towards my vet the next time that I'm there. :)
     

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