Friday, March 25, 2011

371. Studying vet in the USA after A levels? Not possible?

Dr Sing Kong Yuen

Dear Sir,

I am involved with recruitment for the Freeman Scholarship Program at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut in the US. We did a recruitment session recently for our finalists. One is a lady with a strong interest in becoming a veterinarian.

I believe we are badly-positioned to help her realize her dreams. Specifically, vet schools in the US are graduate programs, requiring the applicant first complete four years of undergraduate study …. Then take the MCAT exams and go through the entire school admissions process again!

I suggested to her school systems that work on the British system, such as Glasgow. I also suggested the AVA scholarship program. I noted from your website that you attended Glasgow on the Colombo Plan, served with the SAF Provost Dog Unit, tended race horses for the Bukit Timah Club, started your own clinic, and are now headed into happy retirement.

You have walked the path that she is considering. Might you have a moment to take a call from her and give her the wisdom that comes from real experience?

I am an ex-infantry officer who spent his life as a civil engineer building prisons, police compounds and the coastal barrier for the Singapore government. My ability to guide her is terribly limited.

Thank you so much for any help you can give.

With best regards,
Name given



Thank you for your email. I can always spare more than a few minutes to meet one-on-one to the young lady who wants to be a veterinarian. Phone calls are a waste of time if the persons are sincerely interested in knowing more about veterinary medicine and surgery. During the meeting, I can assess whether the young lady is really passionate about veterinary medicine and surgery. Phone calls and text messages and emails are preferred by the younger generation who don't have the real interests or passion and merely wants to go fishing.

Let me know as soon as possible. I don't know where you get the impression that I am into "happy retirement". I have an associate veterinarian who is younger and takes care of many of my old clientele as there is insufficient rooms for 2 vets at any one time. I still consult and yesterday I spayed a Fox Terrier as the owner wanted me to do it. I am even busier than before in veterinary medicine, travel and real estate.

I hope we can meet one day and not just e-mail. Best wishes.

To: ....
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2011 12:44 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: For Dr Sing Kong Yuen


Yesterday, I told a prospective intern who had straight As (except one B) in her A levels to go home since she could not work the hours required of an intern. Her father had objected to her working "long hours" and she had phoned me yesterday wanting to negotiate to shorter hours. This young lady, about to venture overseas to study in the U.S and accepted by US vet school is still tied to the apron's strings. Can excellent "A" level results open a place to study vet medicine in US universities as apparently is the case in this lady.


Dear Dr. Sing,

Thank you very much for taking so much time with me.

What that perspective/rejected intern told you does not make sense to me. I pulled the below off the Veterinary Medical College Application Service website:

Major- Choose a major in an area that interests you. You do not have to be a science major to go to osteopathic medical school. However, you must complete certain course requirements. Most osteopathic medical schools require the same courses as allopathic medical schools, listed below:

1 year of physics with lab
1 year of general chemistry with lab
1 year of organic chemistry with lab
1 year of biology with lab
1 year of english

Requirements do vary between schools. Many schools require biochemistry and genetics in addition .

As you can see, the American system requires one to take a four year undergraduate liberal arts curriculum before they even apply to vet school.

Might that prospective intern have been mistaken in her assumption she could apply directly to an American vet school?

On your second query: No I have never met Gerald of .... Properties! I train with a guy named Gerald at the NUSS gym, but I believe he is a teacher.

I am actually ex-US Army and ex-civil engineer (retired).

I was involved in a recruitment exercise for my old university held down in the (location given).

We got the usual collection of arts-stream types who all want to be writers or artists. But we got one applicant who stood out; this lady was math/science, wanted to be a vet, and seemed to have her priorities straight.

Our admissions officer made some ... comments about this student's career plans (apparently they wanted her to study political science!).

I had an ugly confrontation with the admissions officer after the meeting, then I went on the computer and started googling information on proper vet programs and veterinary career paths.

Your name stuck with me because you had been commander & veterinary officer of guard & tracker dogs with the Provost Guard Dog Unit. I also noted you had worked with race horses at Bukit Timah and now had your own clinic. You had been a government scholar.

I wrote you because you had the right background. I can tell this student not to waste her time with political science. But only you can set her on the right path.

If you have a moment, I can bring her by your clinic. She wrote me asking whether next Tuesday would be okay. If that day is convenient, I will bring her to:
Block 1002, Toa Payoh Lorong 8

Just let me know what time is convenient.

I will disappear during the meeting and you will be free to give her the good, the bad, and the ugly of her career choice.

Thanks so much.

Name given

UPDATE MAR 27, 2011 FROM Dr Sing
Will meet prospective vet student on next Tues Mar 29, 2011 11 am at Toa Payoh Vets

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