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Advice for Pursuing Veterinary Medicine

Although URGO is a small department at a small university, we provide comprehensive guidance in pursuing pre-health tracks. Students can come to our office to get on track for dental and medical school and more. One student who came to URGO for guidance and research opportunities was Emily Gregg ’17. While Gregg is currently in her fourth year of veterinary medicine at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, her experiences at Augsburg forever shaped her educational trajectory and career.

Emily Gregg holding a dog.
Emily Gregg ’17

Gregg pinpoints her time on the soccer team and her research experiences to be the most significant parts of her time at Augsburg. She took part in four different research projects through URGO, study abroad, and the University of Minnesota. The most instrumental was a month and a half spent in Uganda with then biology faculty member Dr. Kevin Potts researching chimpanzee habitats as a Sundquist Scholar. The relationship she formed with Dr. Potts became core support in her pursuit of veterinary medicine; while Gregg had always wanted to go to vet school, her time with Potts sparked a passion for field work and research.

Because her interests became both academic and practical in nature, Gregg applied for multiple DVM/PhD programs as these combine Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and PhD degrees. She did not get accepted into those programs, but her nontraditional approach to veterinary medicine made her stand out in her DVM applications and she received multiple acceptances. Her diverse research experience and wildlife interest made her unique in comparison to other applicants. Gregg also believes that her focus on public health and belief that all health is connected gave her an edge.

Regarding applying for veterinary schools, Gregg has specific advice for undergraduates.

  • Students should log as many shadowing hours as they can with many types of veterinarians.
  • Programs want to see diversity in your experiences and interests. Pursue passions outside of being a vet so that you can continue to connect with other people throughout school and your career! Students who emphasize their authenticity in essays show a well-rounded applicant who has the capability to be a personable professional.
  • Students should highlight their flexibility in learning and ideas. The field of veterinary medicine is going through a transition period, and schools will be looking for innovation and want to change and shape the field.

She also has crucial guidance for students who are accepted and about to begin at vet school.

  • Every year students are expected to learn a larger amount of knowledge in smaller amounts of time; know that the learning gets easier.
  • In Gregg’s own words, “C’s get degrees. Focus on enjoying the experience and diving in.”
  • While many medical students tend to be high achievers, Gregg believes that high standards are the enemy and encourages students to not aim for perfection. They should aim on making a difference in whatever way works for them.
  • Finally, Gregg emphasizes being a caring doctor. “Be the best doctor you can be, unaffected by the grades you received,” she says. “Personal skills are more important than anything else.”