Veterinarian Degree Programs with Prerequisite Information
To become a veterinarian, an individual must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program or the equivalent. Graduates might specialize in different types of animals, work settings or clinical subspecialties and must obtain licensure to practice.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Veterinarians typically are involved in maintenance of animals' health as well as diagnosis and treatment of sick or injured animals. Alternatively, they might be involved in efforts to control animal-borne diseases or in clinical research working with laboratory animals. Veterinarians can specialize in animal types, such as domestic pets or livestock, or they might specialize in particular work environments, such as zoos or research labs. Veterinarians also might specialize in clinical subspecialties, including nutrition, dermatology, theriogenology, oncology, cardiology or surgery.
Veterinarian programs typically train students through intensive classroom instruction coupled with hands-on clinical or hospital training. Programs usually are four years in length, with the first two years focused on classroom and lab study and the final two years utilizing a teaching hospital or clinical facility. Clinic and hospital training typically involves rotations through various aspects of care, such as evaluation, diagnosis and treatment, in addition to advising clients.
While a bachelor's degree is not always required for admission to veterinary school, a minimum amount of college experience is. Applicants commonly choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in a field like molecular biology or zoology to satisfy admissions prerequisites, including coursework in math, the humanities, the physical sciences and biology. Some schools offer veterinary science majors with a pre-veterinarian track.
Programs typically include a rigorous combination of classroom and clinical work. Topics of study might include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Parasitology and virology
- Anesthesia and surgery
- Diagnostic imaging
- Bovine herd and equine medicine
- Small and large animal medicine
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), veterinarians could see a 33% increase in employment opportunities from 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). In 2010, the BLS reported that these professionals earned a median annual salary of $82,040.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
State licensure requirements for veterinarians vary, but graduates typically must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination. Vet school graduates might continue their training through internships and residencies. Some seek board certification in a specialty, such as anesthesiology, reproductive medicine or surgery, which is granted through organizations recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
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