I started my veterinary studies in the Caribbean in January 2015. People often ask me what made me choose the Caribbean- was it the white sand beaches, the tropical weather all the time or the vast availability of fresh fruits and unique cuisine? I wish I could answer yes to these questions and provide more of a reason as to why I decided to move thousands of miles away from everything I have ever known. However, I have one very simple answer- I love veterinary medicine and cliché as that sounds, I was determined to become a veterinarian one way or another. It just so happens that “another” involves leaving all my friends, family and loved ones while putting myself into huge financial debt.
I often find myself wondering if I think it has been worth it. Should have tried again to get into vet school closer to home? Should I have just given up on my dreams and pursued a different career field? This most certainly would have been easier! After completing my first year, I have accepted the challenges that come with moving so far away from home, alone, while enduring the massive amount of stress endured in veterinary school. I have concluded that yes- it is absolutely worth it! I encourage any student looking to enter the veterinary career field to explore all of their options and to not be discouraged by the stigma that unfortunately accompanies Caribbean veterinary schools. I can honestly say that although their admission processes may vary from the standard seen with other veterinary schools; the curriculum itself is NOT easier. You will endure very similar classes, labs and experiences as any other veterinary school. Additionally, while studying in the Caribbean you will be exposed to disease conditions that are not commonly seen in Canada. For instance, in Canada we fortunately see limited rabies cases depending on your location. However, if you study in the Caribbean you will have a great chance of being involved at least one rabies case during your veterinary studies.
While in the Caribbean, you also will have the opportunities to participate in amazing health clinics for the community. These clinics involve teaming up with the human medical school. Large groups of students are taken out into the community to perform physical exams, vaccinations, and minor medical treatments while under the supervision of veterinarians and human medical professionals. These clinics provide amazing opportunities for students to gain experience in the medical field (both human and animal) while also being able to provide free care to citizens of the community who would be unable to receive treatment on their own.
When considering a career in the field of veterinary medicine, whether you want to be a veterinarian, veterinary technician, animal care attendant or a receptionist, remember that your options endless! Take your time, do your research, and do not be afraid to take advantage of any opportunities that arise!