I am currently in highschool, which I will graduate from in a few years. However, I have always wanted to be a veterinarian. I first knew I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was around 3 years old, mainly because I love animals and that's the age I learned of the profession. Since then I have always been fascinated with animal and anything to do with medicine. I watched both human and animal medical shows at a young age, and have read countless books on veterinary medical stories and such. Once I started middle school and got to choose classes I really started advancing my experiences with veterinary medicine. I was able to get a shadowing position, which turned into an internship, in 8th grade. Over the past couple years I have logged nearly 200 hours at the clinic. Unfortunately, it is a couple hour drive from where I currently live. So summer of last year I started looking into shadowing or working at a veterinary clinic near me. Unsuccessful, I pushed through another year of school until this summer I finally got a clinic to let me shadow. Shadowing and getting to watch actual medicine is very worth while, and I highly recommend it if you are thinking of going into veterinary medicine. I have gotten to see typical surgeries, like tumor resections, neuters and spays. Additionally, I have seen emergency surgeries and have been able to help out with off-hour patients when no one else is available. I also got to see routine check-ups and experience the owner-patient-veterinarian bond that is essential in practicing good medicine. I am currently working at a veterinary clinic by me (a different one then the ones I've shadowed/interned at) and have another internship opportunity that I participate in a couple weeks a year that is further away.
My point in mentioning all my experience is this: if you want to be a veterinarian you have to get your foot in the door as soon as possible and you have to record everything you do relating to it. I know in highschool it's very hard to get a veterinarian to let you shadow and it's even harder to get a job at a vet clinic, but don't give up. It's so worth getting the early experience, plus every veterinary college requires about 200-300 hours of veterinary experience anyways.
There are 3 things I have realized so far with my experience
1. Veterinarians blow me away. A human doctor specializes in one subject or field of medicine typically, plus they only have to know one species: humans. Veterinarians, however, have to know over 7 species during college and usually 3 or more when the choose small, large or mixed animals and actually begin practicing. On top of that most veterinarians (unless they specialize and go do residency for another 3-4 years) preform surgery, do patient check-ups, work labs and do radiology.
2. Every veterinarian does things differently, even if they attended the same college. There is no book that gives you a specific step-by-step on how to manage an illness or preform a surgery to a 't.' It is simply practice and learning from other veterinarians. I have heard from many of the veterinarians that once your out in the real world practicing there is so much you don't actually know about veterinary medicine. For example, one veterinary clinic does intermittent outer sutures when closing a wound where as another I watched does intradermal sutures and surgical glue to close the wound on things like spays and neuters.
3. Experience is everything. Getting that foot in the door has really helped me realize the extent of the career and I have learned many things about practicing medicine and caring for patients, that most people don't learn until veterinary college.