It may have been your childhood dream to pursue a veterinary career – if it was, you’re certainly not the first! Many kids around the globe dream of taking care of animals some day, but many with this dream don’t fully understand everything it takes to get there.
Becoming a veterinarian requires the same amount of dedication and academic commitment as becoming a physician for humans. It is not an easy task—you need a combination of the right skills, grades, and work experience to secure a place in veterinary school. Competition is tough. But if you’re truly passionate about the health and well-being of animals, you will find that all the hard work is well worth it in the end. To be specific (and perhaps a bit technical), Veterinary medicine is the branch of medical science that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases, disorders, and injury in animals.
As you well know, animals are important to society, whether as pets, livestock, or for other purposes. Every community needs the help of veterinarians to provide health care for animals.
So… what do veterinarians do? Aside from caring for our pets, they:
• Make sure the nation’s food supply is safe
• Work to control the spread of diseases
• Conduct research that helps both animals and humans
Some say that veterinarians may be our vanguard—protecting – not just animals, put people too.
Veterinary medicine has a vast scope: covering a range of disease processes on a widely ranging animal population. As you make this decision about which veterinary specialty to choose, your options are literally endless. Below, you will find links and information on some of the most popular veterinary careers today:
Holistic veterinarians specialize in using empathy and alternative medicine in treating animals. If you choose to be a holistic veterinarian, you’ll be using acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and chiropractic medicine (among other natural treatment options) to care for your patients.
Equine veterinarians (or horse veterinarians as they are often called) are large animal specialists who manage the health and well-being of horses. As an equine vet, you’ll work with breeders, race horse owners, and research facilities to provide horses with the highest quality of care. As horses are very different in anatomy, physiology, and pathology compared to other small and domestic animals, you’ll most likely be required to travel to see your patients in their natural shelters.
As an emergency veterinarian, you would be responsible for providing immediate care and treatment in order to save the lives of animals in cases of accidents, fires, and other emergency situations. You would be responsible for handling delicate surgical procedures, and in making quick and important judgement calls to animals under critical care. You would also be signing up for some on-call time, as emergencies, by definition, are not something you can plan on.
Who wouldn’t want to be a cat veterinarian? Or… on second thought, maybe there’s a difference between watching cats do funny things on you tube and providing medical treatment to these independent creatures. The good news is that because cats make such great pets, and provide such endless entertainment to their owners, it is reasonable to expect that the demand for cat veterinarians will remain strong. Just know that you’ll be doing much more with vaccinations, X-RAYs, ultrasound, and surgical procedures than you will with watching funny cat tricks
When animals develop benign or malignant conditions of the skin, ear, hair, and nails, a veterinary dermatologist will be called in to work out the diagnosis and treatment. Sometimes, it’s as simple as providing care tips, and other times it can be much more complicated. Either way, if you become a veterinary dermatologist, you’ll have the privilege of relieving the suffering of these animals who, at the time, don’t feel comfortable in their own skin.
If you care deeply about animals, but prefer to take more of a backseat role when it comes to their care, you may want to consider a veterinary career in preventative medicine. You would be working with information primarily, rather than animals and would be in a great position to influence the powers that be to make changes in the care of animals. Your influence would help to prevent, control, or eradicate diseases that may affect both animals and humans alike. Also, your work would influence agricultural productivity as it pertains to animal and human health.
If you love life on the road, and have a passion for animals, you may want to consider becoming a mobile veterinarian. Hop in your RV or van, and go where the animals are. You’ll get to see some beautiful countryside and traverse through scenic back-roads.
A picture is worth a thousand words… but only if you know what you’re looking for. Once you’ve been trained as a veterinary radiologist, you’ll be able to spot a broken bone, a growing cyst, or an abnormal accumulation of liquid, just by looking at an X-RAY.
“The eyes are the windows to the soul” as the ancient proverb goes… but what happens when those eyes are clouded over by some gross infection? You, as the veterinary ophthalmologist, would be in the position to help those eyes see again and treat whatever infection/disease is present. By treating the eyes of animals, you are adding value to that animal’s life and allowing them a more rewarding relationship with their owner.
Epilepsy, spinal cord diseases and injuries are neurological ailments that can wreak havoc in the life of a pet; sometimes leaving them confused or even paralyzed. With much compassion and an intricate understanding of the central and peripheral nervous systems of animals, you could provide aid to these ailing patients. If you’re looking for an advanced veterinary career that utilizes your intelligence, this is definitely a field to consider.
As a veterinary dentist, you have the distinct privilege of practicing dentistry, surgery, and anesthesia all while caring for animals. Your training would focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders associated with the oral cavity, the maxillofacial region and their connected structures, in animals.
When a dog, cat, ferret, bird or other exotic or domestic animal gets cancer, there is often still hope for them. Veterinary oncologists utilize state-of-the-art equipment and procedures including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy, for the accurate identification and diagnosis of animal cancer.
Veterinary parasitology is also a specialized veterinary career that deals with the study of the origin and development of parasitic infections in animal hosts. Veterinary parasitologists analyze the taxonomic classification, including morphology, life cycle, and living needs of parasites that can infect both domestic and livestock animals. They are concerned with animal hygiene, living environments, and food intake.
Do you love looking into a microscope? It’s amazing what the tiny world of microbes can tell us about disease. Veterinary pathologists spend much of their time looking through the scope looking for cancerous and non-cancerous specimens from animals suspected of a disease. They are essentially medical detectives who can recognize slight changes in animal tissue cells to determine the cause and best possible treatment for a disease.
“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 and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.”
This statement is part of the veterinarian’s oath taken by aspiring students who pass the veterinary medicine board examination. When you pass this exam, you officially begin your journey to pursue more specialized veterinary careers in the field.
To be successful in your veterinary career, you must be a good communicator, must have physical strength and dexterity, and must possess a bright and eager mind committed to caring for pets, and educating their persons about their responsibilities as a pet owner.
Becoming a veterinarian not only allows you the chance to surround yourself with the animals you love, but it also provides you the opportunity to uplift their health and well-being. Your work as a veterinarian will ultimately benefit the society, economy, and environment as a whole.
Remember… plan ahead and set realistic goals for yourself. Realize that time and persistence is required to reach anything that is worth achieving.
If you are a scientific-minded and passionate individual, pursuing a veterinary career may just be your perfect profession! There is no greater reward than seeing the animals in your care enjoying a happy and healthy life.