Veterinarian (Livestock): Educational Requirements
Livestock veterinarians, who are concerned with the health of cattle, pigs, sheep and other animals that are used for profit, can be employed with farms, industries or the government. Their duties include performing checkups, diagnosing illnesses, prescribing treatments and quarantining animals when necessary. They must complete extensive educational requirements that include undergraduate training, veterinary medical school, licensure and either an internship or residency program.
Livestock Veterinarian Educational Requirements
Most students complete bachelor's degree programs before attending veterinary school. Some schools offer pre-veterinary programs but there isn't a specific major required for prospective livestock veterinarians. Students can consider pursuing programs in animal science or related subjects that include the required pre-veterinary courses, such as animal nutrition, chemistry, biology, zoology and microbiology. Individuals will need to take a standardized test, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT), depending on the school to which they apply.
Veterinary medical programs typically last four years and result in a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). The first three years include sequences in animal anatomy, physiology and immunology, in addition to an introduction to medical procedures. The final year is devoted to clinical rotations, which include core requirements, as well as electives that allow students to pursue personal interests. Any prospective veterinary medical school should be accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
In order to specialize as a livestock veterinarian, individuals need to complete a residency or internship program. Prospective livestock veterinarians can consider programs in food animals, large animals or programs in a specific animal, such as cattle. Both internships and residencies pay stipends and include supervised training, research opportunities and teaching experiences. Most internships lasts a year while residencies can last three or four. Another difference between these program types is that upon completion of a residency, an individual can become board certified in his or her specialty.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all states require that veterinarians be licensed unless they work for exempted state and federal agencies (www.bls.gov). The requirements for licensure can vary by state, but usually include a DVM and passing grade on the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE). The NAVLE, given by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, includes both multiple choice and visual questions that test a candidate's knowledge of veterinary medicine and diagnostic skills. Some states also require state jurisprudence or clinical competency exams.
The American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) offers species-oriented certification for veterinarians. Among the certifications offered are: beef cattle practice, dairy practice, swine health management and food animal practice. According to the ABVP, applicants for certification must have six years experience in the category they wish to test for (www.abvp.com).
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