Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Degree Program Overviews
All 50 U.S. states require aspiring veterinarians to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and gain licensure in the field. A DVM program provides students with the educational background and clinical training necessary to diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries in animals.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Students interested in earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine should attend a 4-year university that is accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). As of 2008, there were 28 accredited colleges offering such programs. A DVM takes on average four years to complete, and includes about three semesters of clinical rotations in addition to comprehensive classroom lectures.
Students enrolled in a DVM program spend their first few years of study learning about the anatomy and physiology of the animal body. They then learn about common animal diseases, diagnostic procedures, radiology and imaging technology, animal pharmacology, physical examination procedures, preventive medicine techniques, client communication skills, and much more.
Some schools do offer baccalaureate degree programs in pre-veterinary science, but such degrees are not typically required to gain admittance into a DVM program. Aspiring veterinarians should complete a bachelor's degree program that focuses in some way on biology and science. Prerequisite courses often include general biology, genetics, microbiology, zoology and animal nutrition.
In addition to completing clinical rotations at actual animal health facilities, students enrolled in DVM programs are also required to complete seminar courses covering animal health and science. Some of these include:
- Animal anatomy and physiology
- Human - animal relationships
- Diagnostic microbiology
- Veterinary medicine and law
- Veterinary clinical genetics
- Diagnostic imaging procedures
- Veterinary anesthesia
- Large animal surgery
- Small animal surgery
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Veterinarians can specialize in several fields, including small animals, large animals, equine veterinary science and agricultural veterinary science. Veterinarians in general, however, held about 54,000 jobs in the United States in 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for the profession in that year was $80,510.
Gaining licensure is an absolute requirement for veterinarians in the United States. Each state has its own requirements for gaining certification, but each state does require aspiring veterinarians to successfully complete a DVM program. Many states utilize the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam as a means of granting certification in the field.
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