The WIU offers the basic training required for a career in veterinary medicine
March 30, 2021
MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois University School of Agriculture offers a pre-professional program that meets the requirements for admission to a veterinary school upon graduation. Numerous alumni of the university are currently enrolled at the veterinary school and are building on the educational basis they received from WIU.
Due to the intense competition for admission to veterinary schools, most students first complete a four-year bachelor’s degree before admission. Those students considering a career in veterinary medicine should have a solid foundation in life sciences and chemistry, including biochemistry, as the minimum knowledge base for success in the curriculum.
In addition, one or more courses on animal production and animal ethology are very desirable. Those pursuing a career in veterinary medicine related to agriculture should consider additional backgrounds in nutrition, animal husbandry and production economics by working towards a degree in agriculture prior to admission to veterinary school. Students can also pursue other key areas of study.
The pre-veterinary medicine program at Western has laid a solid foundation for numerous students and alumni eager to continue their education. A common thread between these students is the way they decided to pursue careers as veterinarians.
For 2020 graduate Taylor CareyBorn in New Boston, she has known what her future career goals have been since childhood.
“When I was seriously thinking about my future in high school, vet med wasn’t on my list because I feared I wouldn’t make it,” she said. “It wasn’t until the first semester at WIU that I realized that I was capable of becoming a veterinarian, and I actually began to devote myself to this topic.”
For 2019 graduate Luke DanielsThe way from Strasburg, IL was a little different.
“I made a decision to get a degree in veterinary medicine after graduating from Lake Land College with an associate degree in agricultural production and management,” he said. “This is a far cry from the normal path of pre-vet students, but at the time I had no plans to continue my education at a four-year university. My plan was to get into the workforce and find a job that would work with Livestock is related to industry, especially livestock farming. “
Daniels said he always liked the idea of becoming a vet, but felt that it was beyond his reach.
“After my two years at Lake Land College, I decided that if I hadn’t set myself this goal and worked toward it, I would always regret it,” he added. “This is where western came in.”
To the Ryan AckmanThe 2019 WIU graduate, originally from Galesburg, IL, who decided to become a veterinarian, was a long time coming.
“I always knew I wanted to work with animals,” she said. “When I was growing up, my family raised Australian Shepherds and we took care of kittens. Therefore, I was always around and caring for animals. However, my final decision to become a vet wasn’t made until high school I recognized my keen interest in medicine. “
A similar story is shared by 2019 graduates Cassidy Tarter, originally from Canton, IL.
“I’ve known since I was a kid that I wanted to be a veterinarian,” she said. “I know it sounds very clichéd, but my love for animals and their help started with my show cattle around the age of 3 and blossomed from there.”
For many veterinary and agriculture students, the resources WIU made available to them were one of the biggest factors that contributed to their decision to become a veterinarian.
“I was enrolled in an animal science intro course with Dr. Mark Hoge in my first semester at WIU,” said Carey. “We had a considerable amount of hands-on experience in this class that really pushed this forward. Our first lab was giving piglets iron shots and earing them for identification purposes. I was so nervous about going, but when I did, I realized how much I loved it and immediately contacted my counselor to see what I had to do to go down the pre-veterinary path. “
For Daniels, the discovery of the WIU’s agricultural department was the biggest step in his decision to become a veterinarian.
“The entire experience I had at WIU was extremely helpful when I started my journey,” he said. “The science courses on offer helped me think differently than I was used to. In some ways, that’s one of the reasons these courses are needed. They changed my way of looking at most things and encouraged a deeper, more professional way of thinking . The Ag classes and the Ag department were the reason I came to WIU. I had heard that the Ag department at WIU was the best and I have to say I agree. “
For Ackman, a closer relationship with one of the many talented consultants at WIU was the key difference.
“My advisor, Ember Keithley, has been a huge help. She has helped me align the classes I chose at WIU with the veterinary school requirements I applied to,” said Ackman. “In addition, attending Honors College gave me many opportunities to broaden my vet school applications, including extracurricular activities and engaging courses that I would not otherwise have had access to. I also joined clubs where I pamper myself In addition, many classes such as genetics, animal husbandry, and various biology classes have increased my interest in animal science and provided me with knowledge that I still use in some of my classes at the veterinary school. Eventually I found the professional development classes that I went to the agriculture department to help me prepare for my interview with the veterinary school. “
Tarter said the WIU’s School of Agriculture helped guide her through the variety of classes on offer.
“The animal science courses taught by Dr. Trennepohl were particularly helpful and gave me a better understanding of the knowledge we teach here,” she said. “It gave me an opportunity to know some of the information before I learned it recently in the heavy class load we have here at school. The relationships I have built with the teachers and the opportunities to network have helped too . Jay Pittman, farm manager at WIU, gave me the confidence that I would be able to help on the farm and gain experience to which I had no access before. “
The stories of these students and their successes are just a few examples of how the Agriculture Department of the WIU offers the chance to become part of something bigger.
“We are very proud of our graduates who wish to become veterinarians,” said Andy Baker, director of the School of Agriculture. “It takes a special type of student with enough drive and dedication to endure the rigors of veterinary medicine school. Their passion for animals is usually the catalyst, but it’s the mentoring and educational experiences that end the race for these students, our caring, dedicated Faculty that encourages these students to realize their lifelong dreams as veterinarians. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with all of these exceptional students. “
For more information on the agricultural and veterinary program, visit wiu.edu/cbt/agriculture/minors_professional.php. Students interested in completing a degree in veterinary medicine can contact Keithley, the academic advisor for the WIU School of Agriculture, at EL-Keithley@wiu.edu.
Written by: Ethan Hager (email@example.com)
University Relations Office