Personality tests should be a prerequisite for admission to veterinary college

In light of Elisa’s story of the veterinarian who hit a dog (see link below), it occurred to me, as I am sure it has occurred to many others, that veterinary schools should apply a personality test to applicants. I have spent the last 30 minutes researching how students apply to veterinary college. I am a good online researcher and I have not seen firm information which sets out a requirement that student applications to veterinary school must have a suitable personality for the work.

Such a personality test should focus on compassion. A veterinarian must have empathy for his or her patients. The student applicant must have an unshakeable and immutable compassion towards animals. It must be in his or her DNA. There are a lot of people like this who care deeply about animal welfare. These are the people who should become veterinarians. Such levels of compassion can overcome a perceived academic weakness.

Personality tests should be a prerequisite for admission to veterinary college

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The primary focus on applicants to veterinary colleges is on academic achievement. I understand that. Obviously veterinarians must be intelligent people, able to solve problems and provide accurate diagnoses. They must also be good business managers because they going to end up managing staff in one way or another. And they must have good interpersonal skills. It is a given that they must have an interest in animals and this interest must not be faked. I wonder how many applicants to veterinary college pretend that they love animals when they don’t.

But compassion and a love for animals is arguably the most important quality for a veterinarian. He or she will work with animals under stress for very many years. She will encounter difficult and frustrating moments in her work. She will encounter difficult clients who may argue with and so she will have to have good people skills to deal with it. But the frustration and stress that she works under must not spill over into anger against her patients. She must always have the deepest respect for her patients and this stems from compassion. Compassion is a sensitivity towards animals and people who are less fortunate.

Foundation requirement

There must be this inherent gentleness towards animals in all veterinarians. And I don’t see a test for this in applications to veterinary college. It might be wise to focus on this and make it a standard prerequisite. Arguably it should be at the top of the list. It should be regarded as a foundation requirement before everything else. Academic achievement alone cannot be enough. It must be built upon compassion and respect for animals. Only then can you avoid these unsettling cases of veterinarians abusing animals.

Upstate SC veterinarian charged with ill treatment of animals after Facebook video goes viral




12 thoughts on “Personality tests should be a prerequisite for admission to veterinary college”

  1. I was one of the original complainants in the case against Kristen Lindsey (see: Tiger’s Justice Team News Page on facebook), a veterinarian who (for fun) shot a local cat “Tiger”in the head with an arrow four years ago in April 2015 and famously celebrated it. I’ve also encountered my share of local veterinarians and other animal care and control workers through the years who also appalled me with their actions or lack thereof. While a personality test would and should be part of their training, I don’t know how well it would prevent psychopaths from entering the field. They tend to be able to mimic acceptable attitudes when it serves them. They lie very well and sometimes put on a good show. Kristen was an exception though as she was so extraordinarily vile and unapologetic about it that it was like shades of Donald Trump on a small scale. Horrifying and disgusting just the same, and there’s no hiding that. How she got to become a vet is just as dumbfounding as how he became the president.

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  2. Not to detract from vets, but lack of compassion is an issue with human doctors. Before they hit med school they should be required to do a one year of internship with clinics that serve the poor and homeless.

    I had a dentist once that said I didn’t need anesthesia to re-file down a live tooth before putting the crown on. He was upset that I couldn’t handle it.

    He was working with an established dentist. Now he’s working for a conglomerate that provides substandard but affordable care.

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  3. There would need to be periodic testing as well because age-related conditions may alter the personality. I never knew until I saw a commercial that Parkinson’s can cause hallucinations in a high percentage of those diagnosed. Many diseases come with changes in general personality.

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    • Good point. Also old age brings less tolerance and more impatience. This is a personality change. There are others that come with old age.

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      • Also some older people do not have the
        energy and/or are too set in their ways to keep up on all the latest vet techniques. They could recommend euthanasia when there is a new drug or treatment available. Of course I have also seen some 70 year olds have twice the energy of a 30 year old.

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  4. The root of the problem lies with the Vet Board here in the US. They opposed a recent bill to ban declawing in CA and the bill was defeated. If they do not see declawing as cruel and inhumane it is obvious they care only for protecting the bank accounts of unethical and greedy vets. Ethical vets already refuse to declaw without a law. So it is no surprise that there are not more stringent requirements to be a vet and penalties are in place for abusive vets.

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    • The fact that declawing exists indicates to me that too many vets don’t have the correct personality to be a vet. Surely they can make enough money without declawing.

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        • It is the argument I have consistently heard. If vets are driven by greed, it is another personality trait that is unwelcome in this profession. It is a vocation not a business opportunity.

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  5. You hit the nail on the head, Michael. Implementing this procedure would take time and progress through a trial and error process. I am sure that not many colleges would agree. One suggestion: a pre-vet school internship working directly with animals as a prerequisite could weed out unsuitable applicants. I wholeheartedly support your premise.

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    • Neat idea about the pre-vet internship. You’d be able to at least weed out some unsuitable ones. For me the attitude of a vet is the most important qualification. You can’t be a good vet without compassion, respect and sensitivity towards animals.

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  6. I think the tests could/should be applied across professions such as for human doctors, nurses, welfare inspectors of any kind, dog wardens and of course anyone who is thinking of accquiring an animal companion of any sort.

    I have just seen it going wrong for animals far too many times to avoid such cynicism. I’ve sadly seen it go wrong for people too when just one molecule of compassion from a professional would have prevented monsterous suffering

    In the 90s in the UK, there was a rush of tv shows about young vets. This saw a big rise in vet school applicants. I think this allowed quite few questionable types into training.

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