Things to consider when becoming a Veterinarian:
There are currently 28 veterinary colleges in the United States. (Please see link for more information on Veterinary Colleges) Pre-veterinary coursework varies from university to university. Prospective veterinary students should determine which schools they are interested in and contact them or look on-line at their requirements prior to taking any college or university courses so they can tailor their classes to meet the requirements. Work related-experience, including volunteer work, in the veterinary field or health field area is often a requirement for admittance into veterinary colleges. Experience with large and small animals and/or public and animal health work will strengthen a student’s application.
The veterinary curriculum is more diversified than human medicine because of the number and variety of species and physiologies the students have to study. Many veterinarians, especially general practitioners, take on many responsibilities as surgeons, pharmacists, diagnosticians, radiologists, behaviorists, dentists, orthopedic surgeons, etc. and provide comfort to both patient and owner- all this has to be learned. In public veterinary practice, veterinarians also function as pathologists, epidemiologists, diagnosticians, public health officers, food scientists, food safety experts, research scientists, program managers, Directors, and Administrators.
There are courses in veterinary colleges that encompass an overview of many different animal species. These include marine and fresh water animals and wildlife, but most courses are specific to domestic land animals (both companion and farm animals). Birds and reptiles are also covered but to a lesser degree depending on the track that students select. Aquatic medicine and wild animal medicine are specialties that can be followed once the student decides in which specific field they want to practice.
Students should apply for veterinary school in the summer prior to the year in which they will matriculate from undergraduate school. For example, if a student is applying for veterinary college starting fall of 2010, they would submit their application in the summer of 2009. The national Grade Point Average for acceptance into a veterinary college is no less than a “B” or 3.0. When a student graduates from a US veterinary college they receive a doctorate of veterinary medicine (DVM) or a Veterinary Medical doctorate (VMD).
The DVM or VMD degree requires a minimum of 6 years of college consisting of at least 2 years of pre-veterinary study that emphasizes the physical and biological sciences and a 4-year veterinary program. Many applicants have already completed 4 years of college prior to applying to veterinary colleges. In addition to academic instruction, training includes clinical experience in diagnosing and treating animal diseases, performing surgery, and performing laboratory work in anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, and other scientific, medical, and public health related subjects.