Do you know anyone who is thinking about becoming a veterinarian? I can’t tell you the number of times that someone says, "Oh, how neat; my daughter, nephew, teammate, etc. wants to be a vet," when they find out what line of work I’m in.

They’ll usually also ask what the person in question should do to make his or her dream a reality. My response isn’t earth shattering: Get good grades, make sure they have all of their prerequisite courses covered, and get lots of experience in several different facets of veterinary medicine.

This last point is not just a resume builder. Although a strong resume is undoubtedly essential when applying to veterinary school, experience serves an even bigger purpose: determining whether or not the veterinary field is really right for that individual.

Going to veterinary school requires a big investment of time and money. Several students in my class figured out that they really didn’t want to be vets during the course of their studies. It was heartbreaking to watch them trying to determine the least bad way to proceed — cut their losses and drop out, or invest more to get a degree they didn’t think they’d use upon graduation.

There really is no substitute for working with veterinarians to learn exactly what the job entails, but a new YouTube channel, Veterinarians on Call, is a good way to get an idea of what is involved — for those who are just starting to consider work in the veterinary field .

The episodes that are up right now focus primarily on veterinarians working with food animals. While this might not be your daughter, nephew, teammate’s primary focus, I’d still encourage them to take a look. The U.S. is experiencing a shortage of large animal vets. So much so, that if you are willing to practice in an underserved area, the federal government will help you to pay off your student loans. It’s a pretty sweet deal.

If food animals aren’t your thing, don’t worry, the producers of Veterinarians on Call are planning episodes focusing on dogs, cats, and horses during season two.

To be honest, I haven’t done more than take a glimpse at the program. As a vet the last thing I want to do in my free time is watch veterinarians, but I’d love to hear what you all think of the show.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: ChipPix / via Shutterstock