The Authors

Sharon Ostermann
Sharon Ostermann DVM

Dr. Ostermann is an animal shelter veterinarian at the San Jose Animal Care Center, a 50,000 square foot municipal animal shelter in the San Francisco Bay Area with an annual intake of approximately 18,000 animals. The shelter is part of a unique coalition of six animal shelters known as the WeCARE Coalition, a group that is devoted to improving the quality of life of all animals in Santa Clara County and has been saving all healthy, adoptable animals since 2011. Please feel free to go behind the scenes with her as an animal shelter veterinarian by following Tails of a Shelter Vet either on Facebook (for the most stories and updates) or through the website.

The shelter is always looking for more volunteers, so if you have an interest in getting experience in an animal shelter in the San Francisco Bay Area, feel free to get in contact with Dr. Ostermann!


Dr. Ostermann’s story…

Sharon graduated in 2006 from Pomona College with a B.A. in Psychology with a 3.72 GPA. Upon graduating, she began volunteering at a local Humane Society and started working full-time in the field of psychology. A year or so later she left her job to start graduate school in psychology but took additional courses in law to determine if law was something that might interest her (as she comes from a family of lawyers). When she started to look 5 to 10 years down the road and couldn’t see herself being satisfied in the field of psychology, she realized that psychology just wasn’t a good fit. In due time, she began to realize that the most consistent facet of her life was her involvement in the caring for animals. Growing up she had expressed interest in becoming a veterinarian, yet somehow she lost sight of that during college as she was given opportunities to study subjects that were previously unavailable.

In December of 2007, after her last graduate school final exam, she left psychology behind and began her journey to veterinary school by beginning volunteering at the local Humane Society’s veterinary clinic. She worked to gain veterinary experience while completing prerequisite coursework at a local, high-quality community college and through distance education departments at highly ranked universities, maintaining a 4.0 GPA throughout. She also volunteered at a local zoo and took a trip to Costa Rica & Nicaragua to perform spay & neuter surgeries as well as vaccinate small and large animals.

Originally, when she decided to switch career paths, she was confident that she would not be able to apply to vet school until 2009 for the Class of 2014. However, after carefully planning coursework, she realized it was possible to apply to Western University of Health Sciences in 2008 for the class of 2013. She also fulfilled the minimum prerequisites at Colorado State (a long shot as an out-of-state applicant). However, the veterinarian she worked with urged her to apply to the University of California, Davis – her in-state school. Given that UC Davis did not require a supplemental application or fee, she recognized that she had very little to lose by applying. Despite not nearly having all of the prerequisites met, she applied to UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine.

In March of 2009 she received acceptances to both Western and Davis. She ultimately decided to attend Davis for two reasons: better school and less debt.

In the end, 15 months after leaving her graduate school career in psychology she was accepted in to veterinary school despite not having any of my science pre-requisites completed when she made the switch.

She started this blog in May of 2009 before starting her first year of vet school. Given that she was a non-traditional student, she had to do an inordinate amount of research to simply understand what was required of her for the vet school application process. She decided that she wanted to put all of that information together in the form of a blog so as to create a single resource that future veterinary school applicants could use to prepare for the application process. Of course, she also wanted to give aspiring veterinarians a glimpse into what it is like to be a veterinary student as she was not aware of what the experience would be like or the challenges she would face.

Now that she is a veterinarian, Dr. Ostermann has a new blog Tails of a Shelter Vet which she updates weekly. She plans to continue contributing to Life in Vet School, posting updates at times with new perspectives such as Life After Vet School! She will also be adding advice from the perspective of a mentor so that pre-vet students know how to get the best possible letter of recommendation from the vets they work with.

Hopefully the information contained in this blog is, and continues to be, of use to you!


Lauren PangburnLauren

Lauren is currently studying to be a veterinarian at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis as a member of the Class of 2020. She started writing for Life in Vet School in September 2016 and will provide current perspectives of life as a vet student at UC Davis, including commentary on the application process and new curriculum.

Lauren’s journey did not begin until junior year of high school, when it was time to buckle down and decide on a college and major. She knew that she wanted to work with people, and of course she loved animals as well. She had been taking horseback riding lessons since middle school and had just about every pet, from frogs to rats to rabbits to cats. Lauren wanted a career that was not just a desk job. She wanted a career she would truly enjoy and that would be variable and challenging. Realizing that veterinary medicine fit those criteria, Lauren decided to pursue a biology major, knowing that she may change my mind.

Lauren attended Loyola Marymount University for undergrad, a small Jesuit college in Los Angeles, graduating in 2016. She had a wonderful experience, but the disadvantage was that there were no animal science classes and not a lot of pre-vet advising. Lauren took advantage of her summers, volunteering at the San Jose Animal Care Center (where she met Dr. Ostermann), interning at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, and shadowing an equine veterinarian. She also looked up a lot of information about vet school requirements and the application process on her own, making sure she was on track. Lauren knew that she did not have as many experience hours as some applicants, but her GPA and GRE scores were very good, so she decide to apply to vet school during her senior year.

Lauren applied to Washington State, Oregon State, Colorado State, and UC Davis. She was rejected from WSU, waitlisted at CSU, and accepted to OSU and UCD. Lauren chose to attend veterinary school at the #1 ranked veterinary school in the world, UC Davis, and started her life as a vet student in August of 2016.

*** Disclaimer: the opinions, ideas, and advice expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and are not indicative of the opinions of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the AVMA, CVMA or any other professional organization.

2 thoughts on “The Authors”

  1. I wanted to thank you for writing this blog. I recently decided the field I was pursuing a Master’s degree in was not suited for me. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching and trying to zone in on my true passions and desires. I keep going back to animals. When I was little I used to say that I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up. Somehow along the way, it fell off the radar and I never even pursued the interest in my college years. A little voice in my head always told me I’d never be able to perform surgery or put an animal down, so I never considered it a realistic option. Now here I am at 25 years old, with 2 bachelor’s degrees, (one in psychology!) and considering a career switch to something I have zero experience in. Your blog really inspired me to take veterinary medicine more seriously despite my fears. I am a big believer in things happening for a reason and I definitely think coming across your blog was a good example of that! I’m definitely interested in finding out how I can gain more experience prior to applying for vet school.

  2. Your blog really reassures me about being able to get into vet school. I am also from CA, and I really want to go to UC Davis and eventually vet school. Every website scares me by saying how difficult it is to get in, and how it’s nearly impossible. I am a sophmore at a private high school and all of freshman year I have maintained a 4.0. Also I volunteer at a local farm on the weekends, so hopefully this experience will help me in the future if I apply to vet school. Thank you so much for writing about your experiences on this blog, because after reading it, I realized that my dream to become a vet is realistic, and if I work really hard I have a chance at getting in.

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