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PUC Grad Takes Science Expertise to Prestigious UC Davis Vet Program

Lauren Armstrong, June 7, 2012
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PUC senior Mindy Nelson is eager to take on a new challenge she faces this fall after she graduates. This outstanding student will take the knowledge she’s gained in her biology studies and her in-field experience to the prestigious veterinary program at the University of California Davis.

When asked if PUC has prepared her for this step, her response is immediate. “Absolutely,” Mindy says. “I think that my science background here will make the transition to vet school much easier.” The classes she’s taken have, although focused on human medicine, prepared her as they “cross the border into animals as well.” The Major Field Test for biology, a comprehensive exam required of all graduating biology majors and consisting of 150 multiple choice questions, tests both laboratory and field knowledge, diagrams, and experimental skills. While PUC ranked in the 99th percentile, Mindy’s individual score was in the 99.9th percentile of students nationwide.

Her extensive experience in veterinary clinics also gave her the edge she needed to make it into the competitive program. “At UC Davis, their average accepted student has about three thousand hours of shadowing a vet,” Mindy says. With 2,600 hours when she applied, Mindy’s advantage came from the number of places she got her hours, working full-time every summer at several different veterinary clinics since she graduated high school.

She worked at both a small animal clinic in Ukiah, Calif., where her family currently lives, and a horse surgery and sports medicine hospital in Kentucky. The clinic in Ukiah exposed her to many tasks, such as surgery prep, vaccinations, and x-rays. She also got to practice business skills as she made appointments and handled billings and client appointments. The hospital in Kentucky was a different experience, as she participated in surgeries, ultrasounds, and anesthesia practices. Additionally, she was able to ride along with a vet on thoroughbred farms, where they conducted ultrasounds, gave uterus cultures and antibiotic treatments, and administered hormones. She was also able to spend time with a racetrack vet and a horse show vet.

Mindy advises other students on the same career path to “get your experience hours as soon as you can. You don’t have to have a 4.0 [GPA] to get in, but you do need to show that you’re dedicated. They look for a student who understands the profession and who has put in the time.”

Mindy hasn’t set her post-Davis plans in stone, as internships and residency are optional for vet school, but she would like to apply for internships after she finishes the program.

“I'm definitely looking forward to the actual school part of vet medicine, but I know there will be plenty of stressful times in the future when I question why I'm putting myself through this,” Mindy says. “It is great to have had hundreds of hours of ‘highlights’ to look back on to remind myself what it's all about.”