If you have a passion for animals or are an advocate for animal welfare and rights, than a career in veterinarian medicine may be the right choice for you. Veterinary medicine is the study and practice of medicine on animals. A veterinarian is a doctor of animal health trained at an accredited college or university for at least four to six years and is licensed to provide medical and surgical care for animals. To become a veterinarian, prospective vet school students should have a strong track record in the sciences and a sharp analytical mind.
Veterinarian Education Requirements
Veterinarians are required to complete a four year undergraduate degree, typically in a science related field like zoology, molecular biology chemistry, animal science or biochemistry. Although not a must have requirement, there are very few cases where students are accepted into a veterinarian program without a bachelor’s degree. In those few cases, students would generally need to have completed at least 45 to 90 semester hours.
The most common undergraduate degree completed by students would be a bachelor of of science in animal science. A bachelor’s degree in animal science can usually be completed in four years. Studies usually include a combination of both classroom and laboratory education.
Courses that are ideal for preparing students for veterinary school include:
• Animal Management
• Anatomy and physiology
• Animal nutrition
• Equine care
• Animal behavior
• Veterinary pharmacology
• Animal nutrition
• Clinical pathology
• Large and small animal medicine
• Diagnostic imaging
• Anesthesia and surgery principles
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Veterinarians are required to complete a four year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program in addition to undergraduate school. They must also obtain a license to practice medicine as well. Normally divided into two years, the first half of the program typically consists of classroom instruction; the second two years focus more on clinical lab classes.
The clinical practicum sees students perform rotations at animal hospitals and facilities to gain practical, hands on experience. They are completed in different specialties including dentistry, cardiology and oncology. Students learn essential skills while on rotation such as how to treat wounds, prescribe medicine, perform surgery and set fractures.
After earning a doctorate of veterinary medicine, to become a practicing vet, you must be licensed. Most countries require potential vets pass an examination that tests and assesses candidates knowledge of veterinarian activities and animal species. Some countries have additional requirements, such as veterinary law and a clinical skills exam.
Career Options for Veterinarians
While veterinarians are best known for pet care, some work in private practices or provide care for livestock like horses, sheep, cattle, goats and pigs at a farm or other such facilities. Some vets also choose to do research and development and conduct research on animals in efforts to prevent humans from contracting the diseases that are carried by animals and to reduce animal disease.
Regardless of the school you attend, the options available to you are plenty. Also, veterinarians can specialize in various species as well, increasing their employment options vastly.