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Student Experience

NC State Launches Free Virtual Club for North Carolina Residents Interested in Veterinary Medicine

The groundbreaking VETS DEN program, conducted over Zoom, is designed to give North Carolina residents unprecedented access to information about College of Veterinary Medicine admissions and pathways in veterinary medicine.

College admissions staff standing behind a table talk to families standing at an open house event.
NC State College of Veterinary Medicine admissions staff talk to visitors during the CVM's Open House in March 2023. The separate VETS DEN program allows prospective students and their families to connect with the admissions team virtually. (John Joyner/NC State College of Veterinary Medicine)

Applying to veterinary school can seem daunting for prospective students who have access to pre-vet programs and nearly impossible for those who don’t have the same academic resources. 

In particular, potential applicants in rural North Carolina often have the least access to information about veterinary school admissions, though these areas are home to the vast majority of the farm and production animals currently facing dire caregiver shortages.

To help address these disparities, the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine is launching a virtual program to connect aspiring veterinary students, their undergraduate advisors and others with an interest in veterinary medicine across North Carolina with mentors in the field and admissions staff at the CVM.

This barrier-breaking club is called VETS DEN. Membership is open to all North Carolina residents and those attending school in-state, but meetings are tailored toward current undergraduate and high school students.

The Zoom-based monthly advising program is one of the first of its kind nationwide, says Dr. Lysa Posner, the CVM’s assistant dean of student development.

“As far as I know, we are the only vet school in the country that’s doing this,” says Posner, who oversees the program. “And as a land-grant school, we have a mission to serve the people of North Carolina and their animals. We recognize we have a population of potential students in North Carolina who don’t see themselves here, and we want to change that.”

Dr. Kate Meurs, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, says she is proud of VETS DEN’s debut.

“It is an excellent example of our broadening partnerships across the state,” she says. “I am excited to see how VETS DEN will help us recruit even more outstanding students from the state of North Carolina!”

“As a land-grant school, we have a mission to serve the people of North Carolina and their animals,” says Dr. Lysa Posner. “We recognize we have a population of potential students in North Carolina who don’t see themselves here, and we want to change that.”

Club meetings are planned for the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. VETS DEN’s first virtual gathering will be Jan. 9.

Each session will feature a different guest speaker from a distinct career path within veterinary medicine. The 2024 line-up includes a ruminant medicine veterinarian, a research geneticist, a veterinary technician, a pharmacist and a veterinary librarian, among others.

“We’re trying to let people see the whole breadth of career options in veterinary medicine,” Posner says. “There are many avenues within the profession that lots of people don’t know about.”

The meetings will also include a Q&A session with the guest speaker and CVM admissions staff members in which participants are welcome to ask questions about the admissions process in time for the 2025 admissions cycle. VETS DEN’s organizers hope this offering will combat misinformation about veterinary school and the admissions process, a common issue for applicants.

The organizers are also planning opportunities for club participants to visit the College of Veterinary Medicine’s campus over the next year.

“We’re looking forward to building relationships and either creating interest, or, if the interest is already there, creating connections so that potential students can work through the admissions process,” says Jeff Huckel, director of student recruitment and outreach. “Even if students look into veterinary medicine through VETS DEN and decide, ‘Maybe this isn’t for me,’ that can be a beneficial thing as well.”

Huckel and the club’s other founders, CVM Director of Admissions Adam Jenkins and Admissions Coordinator Christian Jackson, have been developing VETS DEN since the summer. Meurs and CVM leaders proposed the idea, recognizing the need for broader pre-vet outreach and education across North Carolina. 

Admissions data show the majority of the CVM’s students come from North Carolina’s urban centers, Posner says. NC State undergraduates benefit from resources like the Veterinary Professions Advising Center and the NC State Pre-Vet club, and VETS DEN will fill gaps elsewhere in the state for a wider population.

“If you want to be a veterinarian and you’re willing to work hard — and going to vet school is hard — we welcome you,” Posner says. “Just because you were not born in a big city or don’t have access to NC State doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed here, and we want to give everybody that opportunity.”

Interested in joining VETS DEN? Please visit this portal to register for the meetings and receive more information.