If there is one reliable person able to save a pet’s life, it’s definitely the emergency veterinarian!
Any pet that is seriously ill or suffering from an acute, life threatening disease would benefit from prompt medical attention from a veterinarian who specializes in emergency treatment. Emergency veterinarians are board-certified professionals whose main role is to perform urgent (and often delicate) procedures that hope to improve the animal’s chances of survival. In addition to closely monitoring an animal’s recovery progress, they are also responsible for making quick and important decisions that can save an animal under their care.
Have you always nurtured the interest of becoming an emergency vet? Then read on to find out what it takes to become one!
Animals are also at risk of sustaining injuries, burns, vehicular accidents, trauma, and bite wounds. Moreover, animals may suddenly have difficulty breathing or may need immediate blood transfusion due to bleeding. Unwell companion animals such as dogs and cats would sometimes need special nutritional support due to their unwillingness to eat on their own.
In situations like these, emergency veterinarians are the experts to call.
Most of the responsibilities of an emergency veterinarian may vary depending on the area and/or type of practice (private or public) that they choose to work in. Some of their routine tasks may include, but are not limited to:
• Taking X-RAYs
• Monitoring vital signs
• Cleaning wounds
• Inserting catheters
• Administering intravenous fluids
• Application of bandages and casts
• Performing surgeries
• Withdrawing blood samples for lab testing
Due to the unpredictable nature of emergency situations, emergency vets may be required to work 40 to 50 hours a week, and be “on call” to work night shifts, weekends, or holidays.
As each critical situation may bring emergency vets and their highly-trained teams into contact with frenzied animals, there is always a risk of potential injury. This is due to the fact that ailing animals are under extremely high levels of pain and stress. Therefore, proper safety procedures and vigilance must be observed with every encounter.
Aspiring emergency and critical care veterinarians must first apply and be accepted to a veterinary school in order to complete their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. The exams that applicants would need to take are the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) or Medical College Medicine Admission Test (MCAT). Achieving high scores in these two tests would only then qualify them to compete for spots in the highly-competitive Doctor of Veterinary Medicine programs.
After getting their license and becoming legally able to practice medicine, aspiring critical care vets can now begin the path of study that will lead to their certification in the field of emergency and critical care. In order to qualify for the board certification examination, applicants must first meet a variety of requirements.
These requirements include, but are not limited to:
• Three-year residency under the supervision of a board-certified emergency veterinarian
• Variety of hands-on clinical and field work
• Attendance in veterinary emergency and critical care seminars
After these requirements have been met, an applicant will now be eligible to take the board certification exam administered by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care (ACVECC).
After successfully passing the exam, the veterinarian applicant is now given the diplomat status in the veterinary specialty of emergency and critical care.
Since becoming an emergency veterinarian is a highly challenging process, only the best of the best are able to make it. In fact, in the year 2011 alone, there were only about 384 active emergency and critical care diplomats practicing throughout the country.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median annual salary of $82,900 all veterinarians as of 2010. The lowest paid ten percent of all veterinarians earned a salary of a $50,480 each year while the highest paid ten percent of all veterinarians earned a salary of over $141,680 each year. Board-certified specialists, such as emergency veterinarians, tend to be in that top tier of the compensation scale. Though the BLS does not separate specific salary data for each of the individual veterinary specialties, they still predict a steady rise of job opportunities for veterinarians in all fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey results project that the entire veterinary profession has very strong growth rate at nearly 36 percent until 2020. This rate of growth is much faster than the average rate compared to all professions. Thus, there is a guarantee for high demand jobs suited for an aspiring emergency veterinarian.
Being an emergency veterinarian is a fast-paced, highly demanding, and stressful career that requires you to be adept, confident, quick on your feet, but still compassionate in the care that you provide to the animals under your responsibility.
For most pet owners, a pet is not just an animal, but an important and loved member of the family as well. Pet owners rely on the expertise of critical care vets in the event that their pets may suffer from life threatening health conditions. As each moment would count, this career would be thus suited to the passionate individual who can work without breaking under pressure.
Emergency veterinarians are indeed well compensated in terms of salary; however, the real benefit with pursuing this career is in knowing that you have played an important role in saving animal lives on top of improving their quality of life even at the most crucial of times.