What is your advice to prospective vet students regarding student loans?

QUESTION:

I recently saw a video discussing a veterinarian's financial situation. 52% of the veterinarians surveys said "they would not do it again because of their financial situation". What advice would you give to someone who is entering this field, where student debt is high and salary (although still good) is not going to pay off those loans quickly? What would you tell someone who is discouraged and questioning going into this field after hearing these statistics? Thank you.

 

ANSWER:

Thank you for your question! It's a good one. I was disheartened when I realized how much debt I would have once I graduated, especially since I worked so hard to graduate debt free from undergrad. However, after talking with my father I realized that all those student loans were an investment into myself. That switched how I looked at the debt. Kind of like "glass half full vs. empty." 

If you are not sure how you feel about a big cloud of debt waiting for you in the future, evaluate all options that exist as an alternative to going to vet school. For example, if you want to conduct mostly research in animal behavior, then a better option for you might be to get a masters or PhD in animal behavior instead. Maybe you are interested in the biomechanics of animals. Then a graduate program that focuses on that specific area may be a better fit for you. Most students who complete graduate programs in the STEM fields do not acquire debt in order to obtain their degree. 

In retrospect I would do it all over again, but I would make some different financial choices and be more proactive about finding scholarships. I've learned that when it comes to debt, you have to look at what are your financial short and long term goals. If you are realistic in knowing what you want to be able to accomplish and how you will be able to fulfill your goals, you will be able to gauge if your vet school student loans will have a satisfactory return of investment. 

 

-- Dr. G