With 1,000 members on its listserv and more than 350 students at the last meeting, the Vet Aide Club (VAC) at UC Davis has clearly succeeded in attracting students’ attention.
The popular club is aimed at preparing students with an interest in animal and veterinary careers for admission to veterinary school and for future careers. It arranges field trips, volunteer opportunities, career panels, internship opportunities and other animal-related events for undergraduates.
“We’re an umbrella organization for any animal-related career,” said Nicole San Jose, a senior animal science major and VAC president.
The club concentrates on helping students get the experience required for any future animal-oriented career or degree.
“We provide opportunities for pre-vet majors to gain vet med experience to put on their [vet school] applications,” said Mark Cayabyab, the club’s publicity officer.
San Jose said many students go into the club without clinical experience, but the internships help students climb the ladder in clinical opportunities.
The internships with the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital are the most popular aspect of club, said Katie Stewart, a junior animal science major and membership coordinator for VAC. Interns have the opportunity to work with a broad range of animals from horses and llamas to cats and even geckos – living to their motto of “caring for animals, great and small.”
Field trips provide another way for students to gain insight on their potential future career. This month, the club will go behind the scenes of both the Oakland Zoo and the California Academy of Sciences. At the zoo, club members will live a day in the life of a zoo veterinarian.
At the California Academy of Science, the club will have a tour of the inner workings of the facility, with a tour of the hospital procedure room and quarantine room, as well as go on daily rounds with a veterinarian.
Next quarter, the club will visit the Sacramento Zoo for a tour of the zoo’s hospitals and to see an immobilization darting.
“Most field trips we get through club connections,” Cayabyab said. “A lot of vets at these organizations were once Vet Aide Club members.”
The club also arranges volunteer opportunities for students to gain practical experience. They volunteer once a month with the Mercer Veterinary Clinic for the Homeless in Sacramento, which serves homeless individuals’ pets, as well as other clinics in Oakland and Solano.
Both Stewart and Cayabyab said the best way for students to get involved is to sign up for the listserv and come to meetings. Students do not have to be an animal science major to join. While most members are, there are a wide variety of majors represented.
“You don’t have to major in animal science,” Cayabyab said. “Do a major you’re passionate about – we’re welcoming to any background. You just have to have a passion for animals.”
Cayabyab said one of the best parts of the club is the networking opportunities.
“The club highlights all the hidden opportunities we have at UC Davis. We have so many opportunities compared with other universities,” the junior wildlife, fish and conservation biology major said.
Not only will you gain experience and information about veterinary careers, the friendships you gain add to the experience.
“The friendships you build and the feeling that you’re not the only one going through this journey alone is important,” he said.
The last meeting of the quarter will be a career panel on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in 176 Everson. To learn more about this club and their future events, visit iccweb.ucdavis.edu/aes/vetaides/index.htm.
KELLY KRAG-ARNOLD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.