What type of grades do you need to get into Vet School?
Let me say that it is statistically harder to get into a veterinary medicine college
than it is to get into a human medical college because of the limited number of veterinary colleges
(only 28 in the United States) compared to medical colleges. Therefore, your
grades have to be very competitive.
Now this doesn't mean you have to be a
straight A student. Veterinary colleges look at many factors in deciding who is a
possible candidate including extra activities, experience in working with animals and more
but a solid background in biology, science and math is usually desired. The good news is
that the veterinary field has significantly diversified in the past decade so colleges
also include individuals not from the "normal" statis quo.
How long does it take to become a Veterinarian?
It requires 4 years of
college and an additional 4 years of veterinary medicine. Internship or residency credits
are not required but are offered to achieve advanced qualification or specialty
certification. The exception being that it was recently required that foreign graduates
need additional veterinary medical residency credits. This is a debated subject.
find the right student loan for you.
Once you finish vet school can you practice immediately?
No, you first have to pass a demanding national veterinary medical board exam -
similiar to the bar exam in law.
After that in order to practice in a state you
need to pass a state board exam. Each state has their own requirements although some
states do reciprocate. This means that if you pass the state board exam you would be
eligible to practice in another state that accepts those scores.
There are pros and
cons to this system. Many doctors feel that medical knowledge is not different from one
state to the next, they already passed the veterinary medical board tests, so why would
they have to limit themselves to a specific state. On the other side some feel that each
state has specific regional questions they want addressed and they feel is important for
veterinarians to be aware and knowledgable about them. On the whole, most states do not
reciprocate so you must choose where to practice carefully or be willing to take a lot of
Do you need to keep up with new techniques & information?
Yes, you must
take a certain amount of continuing education courses throughout your life if you wish to
continue practicing veterinary medicine. Which seminars you chose is up to the
Veterinarian. This allows individuality along with keeping current on many new
techniques, ideas and recent diseases. Also many veterinarians routinely subscribe to
the journals of veterinary medicine to their overall knowledge of veterinary advances.
Do you have an oath to take?
Yes, The Veterinarian Oath is below:
Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly
swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society
through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering,
the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public
health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in
keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.
I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my
professional knowledge and competence.
Do you think vets are similar to doctors?
This is probably one of the
most frustrating aspects of being a veterinarian. Many people believe that it is only a
technical school type of degree or one similar to a Chiropractor's or Pharmacist's degree,
which it is not. Although people are getting more knowledgeable as time progresses.
It is good to keep in mind that Veterinarians are Doctors but in a different field. In
fact, the veterinarian curriculum is more diversified than human medicine because of the
amount of different species and physiologies they have to study. Remember, many
veterinarians especially general practitioners take on many responsibilities as surgeons,
pharmacists, diagnosticians, radiologists, behaviorists, dentists, orthopedic
surgeon,....and provide comfort to both patient and owner- all this has to be learned.
Can a dog veterinarian treat a dolphin or an elephant?
There are courses in veterinary school that encompass an overview of different
animals. This encludes marine animals and wildlife, but most courses are specific to
domestic land animals (both companion pets and farm animals). Birds and reptiles are also
researched but to a smaller degree. However, aquatic medicine and wild animal medicine are
specialties as you decide what field you want to practice. So even though you have the
basic knowledge of their physiology if you are a general practitioner you don't have the
experience, special equipment or specific medicines to treat them.
There is also good
news if you do want to work with exotic animals. A few years ago there weren't many
opportunities available but there now are a greater number of jobs available in those
fields with the advent of zoological/marine parks and the increased awareness of
What is the average salary?
The median salary is $79,000 a year for
practicing veterinarians but for corporate and public employment the median is $97,000.
However,the ratio varies greatly because of the many different fields the profession
Unfortunately, there has been a downward percentage shift in salary
especially in private practice. Whether it is a natural flux or an indication of a
greater problem is yet to be seen.
The job opportunities for vets seem to be increasing in specialty fields like,
aquaculture, microbiology, toxicology and environmental medicine. This is not an
exclusive list but it indicates a trend in practice.
It is important to remember that
if you go into a profession thinking of how much you are going to make then you probably
will never be fulfilled. You must enter a profession because it is what is in your heart
How many Veterinarians are there in the U.S.?
10 years ago there were more than 50,000 veterinarians professionally active in the
United States, of that 75% are in private clinical practice but that the percentage has
declined to 66% today although there are more than 86, 000 vets today. More and more are
going into other fields like, teaching, research, government service, public health,
military service, private industry, and other areas.
There are currently more male
veterinarians but that number is bound to change since currently over 60% of those
attending vet school today are women.
What does the job entail?
The job responsibilities vary based on the
type of field you choose. Veterinary medicine offers jobs from company research, field
study to private practice. Many veterinarians work in labs developing medicine. The
veterinarian that is mostly identified with is the one in private practice. They must be a
general physician / surgeon / diagnostician / pharmacist all in one with knowledge of a
variety of different species. Many are also "on call" any time of day to answer or treat
What made you want to become a vet?
(excerpt from a companion animal practitioner)
I guess I became a vet because of my combined interest in science, medicine and
animals. When I was young my mother loved German Shepherds and had 4 of them. I loved
their intelligence and loyalty and when they got sick I took care of them and found I
enjoyed helping them.
As I grew my vision expanded and I started to see enjoyment and
personal character from all different animals. I began to see the independence and
fortitude of cats and the companionship of even the smallest bird or pet and how much they
meant to people. I guess I was hooked then.
What was your most rewarding experience?
(excerpt from an avian
My most rewarding experience had to do with a parrot that had its crop burned through
to the outside by food that was microwaved. It was a big problem. It was too big a hole to
seal with just the available area skin and even if I did, it would never be able to retain
enough food to be of much use. The only way was to graph the area, but a parrot doesn't
have much extra skin on their body. I knew it would have to be slowly done, but what
about the opening. I had to devise a temporary substitute for skin until the graph took
and the wound finally closed. It took a course of 16 operations to get enough skin from
its leg to close completely. Now - his feathers on his chest don't all go in the same
direction but he's back to normal and even gave me a nice bite to prove it. (He never was
What was your most discouraging experience?
(excerpt from a general practitioner)
I have worked with companion animals in private practice for 20 years. Unfortunately,
medicine is frought with pets you can't help, including your own. As a human being that
personally hits you hard but there are many owner's pets that you just don't expect to get
attached to, that you do.
One such pet was a beautiful dog in terms of temperament
and personality. The owner was completely dedicated to him and was her companion when her
husband died of cancer. I diagnosed her dog with a malignant tumor and statisically knew
that he only had a short time to live even with the best care.
The owner and I came
to a decision to try to maintain the body to give them both time, but in a few weeks it
was evident that it wasn't working and he was in pain. Even a call to the specialist
yielded the same conclusion. She wanted to be in the room when we euthanized him. The
owner said her goodbyes. He went peacefully and without struggle, the way he had always
been. Those are the patients you miss and remember the most. It also makes you understand
that medicine and doctors have their limitations.
What are some advantages and disadvantages of the veterinary profession?
The advantages of the field is that you are helping our animal friends live better lives
or if you are in the research field you are helping us find cures for people and
The disadvantage is that even with medicines you can't always help them and
in some research, animals may have to used to test the effects of new drugs so that other
animals and people do not have to suffer.
There is also one aspect that is rarely
covered in school and that is the business part of any career. Private clinical practice
is especially stressful because of the investment in equipment, medicines and more, so a
strong grasp of business concepts are helpful. Other fields rely on grants which is also
stressful, so good communication skills are needed too.
If I'm a vet does it mean I can't have any other interests?
While being a vet is a demanding profession, many vets have a diverse career chooses as well. The governor of Georgia,Sonny Perdue is a veterinarian. There are also many vets that have a creative side as well. At veterinary conventions many showcase their other talents. There are artists, writers, comedians, opera singers and musicians. Many studies have shown that being well rounded is a key to
keeping a person balanced.
In fact, the music video you are hearing from our left sidebar is from the practicing veterinarian, Noel Lorica who is also an award winning musician & composer.
How many vet schools are there and where are they?
There are 28 AVMA accreditated veterinary universities in the United States & several outside of the country. For a complete list with links to their websites where you can get requirement & application information along with additional bonus videos of veterinary school life (made by students) or university introductions (made by the college) we've made a page all to itself. www.talktothevet.com/vetschools.html