Everyone knows that veterinarians really care for and love animals…but did you know the extent of their education? Sleuth the Reporter Dog often hears people talk about how it would be fun to be a veterinarian, but what EXACTLY does it take to be part of this proud profession?
1) Students who desire to be veterinarians should spend a lot of time in high school and college taking math and sciences courses. Good grades are important!
2) Finding opportunities to work with animals at a local shelter, through FFA or 4H or even at the local veterinary hospital can help you understand what kind of care different animals need.
3) It’s also important to be very well-rounded…the vast majority of veterinarians work with clients as well as patients! So, good communication skills are helpful.
4) Competition to get into a veterinary school is very intense. The 28 veterinary schools in the US only allow about 3,000 students each year. Compare that to the 20,000 medical students that graduate each year.
5) New veterinary students in their first two years focus solely on classroom activities. They need to learn lots of medical information, like anatomy, microbiology and about different types of parasites.
6) Then, in the last two years, students get a lot more hand on experience. Not only do they work with the attending veterinarians in the teaching hospital, they gain experience in surgery and vital nursing care needs for patients.
7) After graduation, veterinarians still need to pass national and state board exams before they can legally practice veterinary medicine. In addition, states require a set number of continuing education (CE) credits each year.
8) This “CE” keeps your veterinarian up to date on the latest technologies and treatments. Ask your veterinarian about their recent CE classes.
9) Even though many veterinarians work in private practice, others go into the military and public health service. Some opt to teach new veterinarians or specialize in areas like radiology or dentistry. Still others do important research to better lives for people and pets.
10) Trust a site like MyVNN.com to provide you with accurate and unbiased pet health information.
Our love affair with our pets and, indeed, with all animals, is astounding. So, it’s not surprising to realize that veterinarians are regarded with a high degree of respect and awe by animal lovers the world over. However, it takes much more than a love of animals to succeed as a member of this proud profession. A passion for the sciences and an analytical mind are also essential!
By: Dr. Jim Humphries, Veterinary News Network and Certified Veterinary Journalist.
Whether meeting a client for the first time or even while traveling on an airplane, it’s not unusual for a veterinarian to hear something similar to “Oh, I always wanted to be a veterinarian!” Veterinary medicine consistently ranks among the most respected and admired professions. Pet owners and animal lovers do think highly of veterinarians, but many don’t know the incredible schooling that these animal doctors must complete.
Additionally, when asked what a veterinarian does, most people will respond with a phrase about “taking care of animals.” While that is certainly true, most are unaware of the incredible diversity of careers found in the veterinary profession. Not only do veterinarians care for our companion animals and our livestock, but they are also found doing important research that benefits both people and pets or even helping governments track and prepare for newly emerging diseases. Veterinarians are active in the military, our food inspection services, in the public health sector and even in designing new foods and medications to help animals.
So, what does it take to become a veterinarian?
First, good grades throughout high school and an undergraduate program in college are essential. Course work should be strong in math and sciences, but it is also important for the student to be well rounded. As an example, communication courses are vital as the majority of veterinarians will need to effectively explain complex medical diseases and terminology to pet owners or ranchers and farmers.
These early years are also a great time to focus on finding a job or volunteer opportunity that gives hand on experiences with animals. Veterinary hospitals and animal shelters often accept school age volunteers, but don’t forget about the possibilities offered by Future Farmers of America programs or the local 4H. These days, weeks and months of working closely with animals can help a prospective veterinary student understand the challenges of animal care.
After a minimum of two years of undergraduate work, the process for applying to veterinary school can begin. Competition for the open spots is extremely fierce. There are 28 schools of veterinary medicine in the United States with 4 in Canada and another 4 located in the Caribbean. Compare that to the 134 human medical schools in the US! Also, each of these universities generally only accepts about 100 students for each veterinary class, meaning that about 3000 slots are available for each new class. Again, human medical schools graduate about 20,000 new doctors each year.
Once accepted, new veterinary students will find that their school days will be very regimented and filled with an incredible amount of information. For the first two years, the focus is on the sciences. Lectures on the anatomy of various animal species, physiology, microbiology and many more subjects are the focus on the student’s days.
Then, as the students progress into their third and fourth years, all of the information they committed to memory can now be used in a practical manner as they move towards more hands on work in the veterinary teaching hospitals and labs. Students interact with veterinary instructors and actual clients as they learn the important skills of client interaction. These “soon to be veterinarians” also find opportunities to assist in surgeries, extensive dental procedures and, of course, daily rounds with the attending veterinarians at the hospital.
When graduation finally arrives, the learning and education process is not over for these brand new animal doctors. In order to practice veterinary medicine, new graduates must pass national and state board exams. Then, even as they are learning the expertise of daily routines at their new job, continuing education (CE) is a requirement of all veterinarians. This CE helps veterinarians stay on top of a variety of technological and treatment protocol changes.
Some veterinarians continue their education, specializing in areas like dentistry, radiology, or even lab animal medicine. There are almost 40 different specialty organizations and veterinarians who seek to become a specialist may add another 4-6 years on to their education.
As you can see, becoming a veterinarian not only takes passion and intelligence, but a fair amount of sacrifice and commitment as well. The degree of “Doctor of Veterinary Medicine” or “Veterinary Medical Doctor” is one of diversity and certainly a rewarding profession.
To keep up to date with accurate animal health news, visit www.MyVNN.com or www.VetNewsOnline.com