Veterinary Medicine

Overview of Veterinary Medicine Programs

Veterinary medicine postsecondary programs are generally found under healthcare departments at accredited colleges and universities.  The undergraduate and graduate programs cover animal medicine, research, preventive medicine, surgery and animal nutrition.

Types of Veterinary Medicine College and University Programs

You can complete internships, residences and fellowship programs at veterinary schools.  Internships are a good way to find out how much you love working with animals before you complete advanced graduate degrees.  Residency programs give you the chance to complete two to three years of clinical research around animal health, injury and illness diagnoses and prevention.  Additionally, before you are admitted to some postsecondary veterinary medicine programs you must pass the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT). 

Degrees in Veterinary Medicine

Degrees and certifications you can get in veterinary medicine include the diploma in Veterinary Technology, Bachelor degree in Veterinary Science, Master degree in Veterinary Science, Master of Science in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences and the Doctorate degree of Veterinary Medicine.  However, before you start working as veterinarian most state licensing boards require you to get a Doctorate degree which takes about eight years of full-time study.

Veterinary Medicine Curriculum

After you enroll in veterinary medicine programs at top colleges and universities accredited by organizations like the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), you can take your board certification examinations offered by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM).  Attending accredited colleges and universities also prepares you to take your state licensing examinations and get registered as a practicing veterinarian. 

Courses offered in veterinary medicine programs vary from school to school.  However, most veterinary medicine programs include:

  • Veterinary medical terminology
  • Clinical practice
  • Animal nursing
  • Animal laboratory procedures
  • Animal nursing and medicine
  • Small animal breeds and behaviors
  • Large animal breeds and behaviors
  • Animal anatomy
  • Animal emergency medicine
  • Physiological chemistry
  • Immunology
  • Pathology
  • Neurobiology
  • Toxicology
  • Ethics and law in veterinary medicine
  • Nutrition
  • Organic chemistry
  • Genetics
  • Small animal surgery
  • Large animal surgery
Benefits and Rewards of Working in Veterinary Medicine

If you love and appreciate animals, working in veterinary medicine is a career field that you will enjoy as it allows you to use your passion to earn an attractive salary.  For example, you can train animals or work as a veterinary technologists and operate machinery and equipment (e.g. radiology equipment) to examine and treat animals.  Of course, you can also work as a veterinarian and diagnose and treat animal illnesses and injuries, including performing surgeries and administering medications to animals.  Employers you can work for vary.  To start, you can work for veterinary hospitals, clinics, zoos, animal sports organizations or you can open your own private practice. 

Skills you learn while completing veterinary medicine programs are:

  • Research that could allow you to find medical cures to animal illnesses
  • How to perform surgeries on animals
  • Understand why certain types of animals behave the way they do
  • Help pet owners train their pets
  • Educate the public on the importance of a healthy diet for animals
  • Spend your work day being around animals that you love
  • Care for animals in ways that bring pet owners peace and joy
Job Outlook and Support for Veterinary Medicine Majors

The job outlook for veterinarians is very good according to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.  In fact, the Bureau expects jobs for veterinarians to grow by as much as 33 percent from 2008 through 2018.  This growth rate is much faster than the growth rate for jobs in other industries.  The top 10 percent of veterinarians earned more than $143,660 as of May 2008, while the middle 50 percent earned between $61,370 and $104,110 a year.

Associations and organizations that provide veterinarians with job search, networking and ongoing training support are the American Veterinary Medical Association and state boards of veterinary medicine.  Membership in these and similar organizations can help you to remain current on laws and policies impacting your industry.

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