For many aspiring veterinarians, the first behind the scenes experience they will get at a veterinary clinic will be job shadowing. Job shadowing introduces students to the day to day details of veterinary medicine. And it is an important step in discovering if veterinary medicine is the right career to pursue.
But the first step in job shadowing is to ask a local veterinarian if you can shadow them.
How do you ask a veterinarian to job shadow them? Email is a common way to ask to shadow a veterinarian. If you don’t already know a veterinarian that you can ask in person, a professionally worded email can set the tone for a great job shadowing experience.
A job shadow request email, doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be professional. Below you will find some tips for writing an email requesting to job shadow a veterinarian, including some examples you can modify for your own use.
How to write a great email asking to shadow a veterinarian
Make sure to address the email properly. If there is a specific veterinarian you are sending the email to, then address it to that veterinarian. Make sure to use proper titles (i.e. Dr. ______________). If you are addressing the email to a veterinary clinic in general, it is okay to address it to the clinic name.
The first paragraph should be used for you to introduce yourself. State your name and let the veterinarian know where you are at in your schooling. Then let them know why you are interested in job shadowing them.
You can use the second paragraph to let the veterinary clinic know how you heard about them and/or why you are interested in shadowing that veterinarian or at that lcoation. Show them that you know who you are emailing and have done a little research about the veterinary practice.
The third paragraph is for you to give the clinic your contact information and thank them for their time in reading the email.
Finally, politely sign the email with a polite signature.
Sample Email for a High School Student
Dear Dr. _______________ (or Dear ____________ Veterinary Clinic),
First Paragraph: My name is ____________ and I am currently a (freshman/ sophmore/ junior/ senior) in high-school. I am interested in veterinary medicine as a possible career choice and would love to have the opportunity to shadow a veterinarian.
Second Paragraph (choose one): I found your email on your clinic’s website. Your clinic is located near my home, so I wanted to reach out to you and see if you were open to having a high school student come and shadow at your veterinary clinic.
My family has brought our dog to your clinic for years, so I wanted to reach out to you as I begin further exploring veterinary medicine. Do you have any opportunities for students to job shadow at your veterinary clinic?
Third Paragraph: I appreciate you taking the time to read this email. If you have any opportunities for me to job shadow, you can reach me at (insert email address) or at (insert phone number here).
(Your Name Here)
Sample Email for an Undergraduate Student
Dear Dr. ___________,
First Paragraph: I am a pre-veterinary student in my (1st/2nd/3rd/4th) year at (insert university name here). I am currently looking for a local job shadowing opportunity in order to gain more experience at a veterinary clinic prior to applying to veterinary school.
Second Paragraph: Your clinic was recommended to me as a good location to job shadow at by a fellow pre-veterinary student. I was wondering if you currently have any job shadowing opportunities available for a pre-veterinary student.
As I began looking for local veterinary clinics in the area, I found your website. I was wondering if you currently at an job shadowing opportunities avialable for pre-veterinary students.
Third Paragraph: I know that your schedule can be busy, so I really appreciate you taking the time to read this email and respond. I can be reached at (insert email) or (insert phone number) at your convenience.
(Your name here)
Other resources for sample job-shadowing reqeust emails
The University of Wisconsin has another great template for asking to job-shadow a health professional. You can find that template here.
Another good resource is the Student Doctor Network forums. Here is a link to an informative discussion on finding job shadowing opportunities.
How old do you have to be to job shadow a veterinarian? Most veterinary clinics require that you are 16 years of age or older before you can start job shadowing on a regular basis. However, it is always worth contacting your own vet earlier, as each veterinary clinic has different guidelines regarding job shadowing.
What are good questions to ask while job shadowing a veterinarian? We have a whole blog post devoted to helping you come up with good intelligent questions to ask during a job shadow. But generally, asking a veterinarian about their favorite part of their career and what they did to prepare to be a veterinarian can start a good conversation. In between appointments, you can also ask about the disease processes and lab work that you are not familiar with.