Name: Gianni Campellone
Job Title: Veterinary Student
Organization: Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Education/Degree Earned: B.S. Zoology, M.S. Laboratory Animal Science, DVM (2019)
- If you are a 4-H alumni, when and what club(s) were you a part of? How did 4-H help you grow as a professional?
I was never personally a member of 4-H, but I know many people who have been part of the organization, and they’ve all gone on to be very successful in their careers.
- What does a typical work day look like for you? (hours, activities, work environment, responsibilities, etc.)
A typical day of a veterinary student includes classes from 8:00 am-12:00 pm, a one-hour lunch break, and more classes from about 1:00-5:00 pm. Each day you are either in labs which supplement your education, or you are in the classroom for more lectures. The typical student will study anywhere from 3-5 hours after they get home from school. Weekends are usually devoid of lectures, but most students still spend anywhere from 7-12 hours studying over the two days. Most vet schools test students once or twice each week. There are even some weeks where you may be faced with three exams. Be prepared for this realization as vet school is extremely different from an undergraduate degree.
- What is the most enjoyable part of your career?
Helping animals, and of course being an advocate for animal welfare. I think this is the reason most vets get into the profession. We tend to be compassionate beings and as such we want to help ease pain and suffering. I personally see animals as defenseless, without a voice, and I see it as my job to be their voice – to be there to make them better. To educate clients and to strengthen the human animal bond is one of the most enjoyable aspects of veterinary medicine.
- What are some of the challenges you face in your career?
One of the greatest challenges the veterinary community faces is compassion fatigue. Our profession is extremely demanding and it can take its toll on veterinarians, especially when things don’t always work out. A sad, but real part of our profession is you won’t be able to save every animal, it’s just not possible. You won’t be able to help every client, try as you might. This doesn’t make us bad veterinarians, but it still delivers an emotional blow to us.
- What was your favorite science class in school and why?
I really enjoyed entomology. While it doesn’t apply to my career choice (fun fact: certain veterinarians are now responsible for treating honeybees), it was a course that taught me a lot about a whole class of animals. Actually, looking back on it now, entomology did help me a little bit in parasitology. The reason I enjoyed it so much was because it was an interactive class. We had a final project where we had to turn in an insect display, so while we had lectures, we spent an equal, if not greater amount of time, out in the wilderness looking for different orders of insects.
- Can you share advice for youth aspiring to join your profession? (Colleges, majors, internships, tips, tricks, etc.)
If you know you want to be a veterinarian you should start planning as early as high school. If a shelter, veterinarian’s office, wildlife center, or zoo will take you as a volunteer I strongly recommend it. This will look good when applying to college, and is great as a resume builder. As you grow older these volunteer positions may even turn into paid positions.
I strongly recommend majoring in something applicable to veterinary medicine. A science major is not required for veterinary school, but it will lay down a foundation of knowledge that you will build upon in vet school.
I highly recommend using your college summers effectively. You’ll want to either find internships or paid positions in fields related to veterinary medicine. This can be anything from working in a laboratory with research animals, to working at a veterinary hospital, to working on a farm, directly with the animals. The great thing about veterinary medicine is the possibilities are endless. If you as a student are interested in large animal medicine, I would recommend work on farms and at hospitals that see large animals. Likewise if you would like to work with small animals, it would behoove you to work in small animal clinics.
The key to getting into veterinary school is to be a well-rounded individual. You don’t have to be a 4.0 student to get into vet school. A 3.4 student with experience in a small animal practice, a large animal practice, and some research experience, who has also held leadership experience at their college will fare far better than a 4.0 student with no applicable experience.
- Which of the following activities can help youth develop the specific skills needed to succeed in your field? (Select as many as apply)
o Public speaking
o Be in leadership roles at school and in 4-H
o Spend time outside in nature
o Stay physically healthy
o Take notes in school/4-H club meetings
o Learn about current events
o Take care of a pet
o Community service
o Wildlife observation
By Kendrin Dyitt, Atlantic County 4-H Program Associate, and Amelia Valente, Monmouth County 4-H Program Assistant, Rutgers Cooperative Extension