Getting veterinary experience is the cornerstone of every vet school application, but oddly enough, there is often a lot of confusion as to what actually counts as veterinary experience.
To answer this question, I’ll go straight to the source; this is how VMCAS, the veterinary application service, defines veterinary experience:
Veterinary experiences should relate to any veterinary clinical, agribusiness, health science, or research experiences that you have had with veterinarians, other health scientists, or other health professionals.
However, even this is a little vague! It doesn’t go into detail about how closely you have to be working with the veterinarian for it to count as veterinary experience, how research done under non-veterinarians is classified, and a plethora of other questions.
My personal take on veterinary experience is simple: if it is supervised in any way by a veterinarian, and you feel like you gained knowledge about the profession through the opportunity – call it veterinary experience! Schools can always reclassify experiences if they feel like it doesn’t fit their requirements.
Two common questions:
Does kennel work in a veterinary hospital count as veterinary experience? Personally, I say yes. Unless all you’re doing is cleaning cages day in and day out, even as a kennel assistant you are going to be gaining an understanding of how the clinic works, typical medications, and interacting with the veterinarians and vet technicians.
Does biomedical or agricultural research count as veterinary experience? Generally, yes. Some schools specifically state that they want you to count research experience as vet experience, while others are straightforward. I personally think you should try and classify your experiences as highly as you can, so call the research veterinary!