Why Vet School? A Personal Statement

*Note: This is not actually my personal statement, just reflections on the question that governs the entire application process.

I pride myself on being quick on my feet, thoughtful and clear. But this question has always been an embarrassing challenge. How do you say, “Because I feel it in my bones that I want to be a vet,” without sounding like every little girl that’s ever loved a litter of golden retriever puppies? You have to convey an appreciation and love of science, a deep and broad understanding of a field comprising a good chunk of the tree of life, reasonable hands on experience, a smattering of research ability, a life changing moment when you truly “knew,” and all the warm fuzzy stuff you think about the profession in a way that demonstrates enthusiasm not total blissful ignorance.

And while I will do all of that in my personal statement (to the best of my abilities), I thought I would take the time to write the real answer I give myself when even the idea of owning scrubs seems like finding life on Jupiter (I really have considered just buying them and wearing them alone in my apartment like an old prom dress). Here it goes.

I want to be a vet because I have never felt more myself than when I was standing next to a horse. Whether I was freezing cold chiseling ice out of a water trough, changing a bandage or galloping bareback in the summer (yes that really happened in my childhood, thanks mom and dad), I loved knowing I was the first line of defense for this 1200 lb animal and I loved it even more when I knew that animal trusted me.

I know I need a job that is active. I have enough professional experience to understand what it means to sit still at a desk and stare at a screen and that experience was important to validating what kind of job and lifestyle I need. I’m excited by the idea of working outdoors or in a fast paced clinic where I get to think on my feet and only part of my time is spent filling out charts or reading current literature (which I love).

I never thought I could truly say it, but I do love science. It is unusual to say you love something that you aren’t very good at (or people have rarely told you you were good at), but I do. I enjoyed the challenge of learning how our bodies work. I can read through a complex scientific article and distill it down to a few key points. For me, science always seemed like this thing I could never understand, and now that I’ve scratched the surface, I only want to learn more.

I get bored easily. Once I feel I understand a job or a course, I’m usually on to the next big thing. But as a vet, there is always a new challenge or a new case. If not in practice, you can always teach, mentor, advise or write.

One of my bucket list items is to be an expert in something and this is the one I’ve chosen.

I don’t know how many of these reasons resonate with you, but I have done my best to articulate some of the intangible things that motivate us aspiring vets to keep walking down this uncertain path. And I hope you know now that there is someone else out there who doesn’t have a textbook answer to vet school’s most important question.