How To Become A Vet
Whenever young kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up, a vet has been one of the most popular answers for generations. But unfortunately for many of them, wanting to become a vet just because you’re passionate about playing with cute and fluffy animals isn't going to be enough. You also need to be just as passionate about the science, have plenty of dedication, and an analytical mind, so you can focus whenever the going gets tough.
That being said, while loving animals isn't enough to become a veterinarian, you'll need to be good with them in order to be successful in this field. The desire to work with and care for animals is ultimately a necessity to help sustain the drive and the grades as you make your way through medical school. That’s right, medical school. Becoming a fully qualified doctor of veterinary medicine requires graduating from medical school because it’s almost as complex and challenging as being an MD.
Becoming a veterinarian is easily one of the most rewarding and popular careers for anyone who loves pets. But remember too that this job involves working with people just as much as preventing illnesses and treating injuries in animals.
And while you’re obviously going to need to have the biggest heart to be a successful vet, you’re also going to need to be a highly intelligent person who is compassionate and has good communications skills.
Before you decide to start your journey towards a career in veterinary medicine, it’s probably a good idea to be certain it’s the perfect choice for you. So with that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about how to become a vet.
Becoming a veterinarian: Education and training
The education and training process required to become a fully qualified and practicing veterinarian is as long as it is challenging. The most basic education and admissions requirements for becoming a vet is earning a master’s degree or bachelor degree in vet medicine or associates degree in animal science.
You may also be able to complete another medicine or science-related undergraduate degree, and then continue on to complete your Doctorate Degree. Here is a step-by-step plan on how you can become a vet.
Step 1: Early studies
You should begin laying a solid foundation towards building your veterinary career by satisfying all the course prerequisites as early as possible. If you're still studying in high school or you've just started an undergrad, you should be taking as many math, biology, physics, chemistry, science classes, and social science courses as possible.
You can also start the application process in a veterinary internship or by completing a veterinary assistant course for veterinary technicians. No matter where you are in your schooling journey, it’s really important that you start working on building up your veterinary medical college application as soon as possible. That’s because entrance into a university is highly competitive. In fact, less than half of all applicants are accepted.
Step 2: Volunteering
Due to the difficulty of being accepted into this course, it’s extremely beneficial to undertake as much work experience as possible. Not only will it show your commitment and interest in this field, but many veterinary schools require applicants to have some level of actual work experience with animals.
Get as much hands-on experience working with animals as you can doing volunteer work by seeking out volunteering or paid part-time positions at animal shelters, veterinary clinics, research facilities, vet hospitals, zoos, farms, and laboratory animals. You can also join organizations that will teach you all about feeding and caring for animals such as 4H clubs.
Spending some time getting some real-world experience will help you learn a lot about working in the veterinary profession. Even if you’re just cleaning up after the animals and doing basic administrative jobs, these opportunities will also help you determine whether or not a career as a veterinarian is suitable for you.
Step 3: Bachelor's degree
There’s a variety of undergraduate programs and pathways available for aspiring animals veterinarians. But if you're absolutely certain that becoming a veterinarian is what you want to do with your life, you should explore pre-veterinary programs. While some of the undergrad pre-veterinary courses are basically just biology focused with a limited pre-vet pathway, there are others available which are heavily focused on a continued education at veterinarian school.
Previous experience with animals is a requirement for most vet schools. To fulfill this prerequisite, a lot of students seek out college internships whilst they are earning their Bachelor’s.
It’s also quite common for undergraduates to volunteer at local animal care facilities or vet clinics in order to gain additional work experience.
Basically, you can safely choose a major which has a solid grounding in any one of the biological or biomedical sciences in order to earn a Bachelor's degree that prepares you for veterinary school. So when you enroll in veterinary college, sign up for any available courses in animal health and behavior, as well as general biology, health sciences, chemistry, mathematics, and physics.
Step 4: Doctorate of veterinary medicine
For the next step to become a veterinarian, you need to take and pass your GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) before you can apply to colleges and attend vet school. College admissions are highly competitive. Only thirty vet schools in the United States are currently accredited by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association).
This makes it extremely difficult getting into veterinary school as there are thousands of students competing for limited spots. In fact, the bureau of labor statistics says it’s actually harder to get accepted into a school of veterinary medicine than it is getting into medical school.
If you’re one of the lucky ones, you can then earn your Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) by completing a four year study program. The Doctorate curriculum will include a wide range of courses including animal anatomy, biology, physiology, chemistry, virology, nutrition, and zoology. You can also carry out independent study in specific fields of research as well as gain hands-on experience in a supervised clinical setting such as a veterinary clinic, animal farm, hospital, or zoo.
Step 5: Licensed veterinarian
After successful completion of your studies, graduates with a doctorate from a veterinary medicine program or accredited degree program are eligible to become fully licensed. The specific requirements for each state may vary, but they all require vets to pass licensing examinations before they can practice veterinary medicine in their state.
To become a licensed veterinarian, you will need to take a seven-hour North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE) offered by the state you plan to practice in. It is important to note that some states may require veterinarians to also pass an additional examination in order to demonstrate a complete and thorough understanding of state-specific laws and regulations.
After you have successfully passed your NAVLE exam, you will then need to register with the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board (VPRB) or the Veterinary Surgeons Board (VSB) in your state. Most states do not have reciprocity agreements for licensing. This means that a licensed veterinarian who moves to another state will usually be required to pass another exam before they’re legally allowed to practice in the new state that they have moved to.
Step 6: Practical experience
Some vets may decide to immediately start practicing veterinary medicine after they have finished their studies, graduated, and passed their NAVLE licensing requirements. Whilst others may choose to undergo an internship for a year to gain practical experience. This is a good idea for any vets that plans to seek employment in a competitive field of work.
Getting more practical experience in the field is always recommended in preparation for the Veterinary Specialities Certification. This is due to the specific experience requirements before vets take the graduate certificates exam. There are more than 40 veterinary specialties that someone can specialise in, including anaesthesia, surgery, dentistry, radiology, oncology, behaviour, critical care, emergency medicine, and internal medicine.
Vets who decide to apply for board certification in any of these ?specialty areas require hands-on experience via specialized training programs. In fact, eligibility for some specialty certifications like animal surgery or internal medicine requires the completion of additional education or residency certification. Most residency certificate programs involve working in a specified location for a three-year period of residency and supervised training in their chosen specialty.
Step 7: Never stop learning
No two days are alike for a veterinarian. You will get to examine different types of animals, see a variety of injuries and conditions, and utilize many diagnostic tools to determine the best plans of action. A veterinarians job description will change and evolve with technology. This is why it will be crucial for vets to stay up-to-date with all of the latest innovations and other developments.
Begin your path to becoming a vet today
Being a vet is a rewarding career. All the years of study are nothing compared to the fulfilment and satisfaction of becoming a fully qualified veterinarian. Plus, it can also provide you with a stable job that earns a higher salary than the national average.
The right course will teach you how to complete all aspects of becoming a veterinary assistant, from pet nutrition, parasite prevention including specific treatments for roundworms and heartworms to dealing with the emotional issues of euthanasia and pet loss.
The Courses for Success Becoming a Veterinary Assistant Online Certificate Course is a great introduction into the veterinary world, and will help you to kickstart your veterinary career, right from the comfort of your own home. Check out the course units of study and enroll today.