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Veterinarians are physicians to animals. They attempt to prevent, control, and cure animal diseases. Duties vary, but most diagnose and prescribe treatment, administer tests, observe the animal's condition, perform surgery and prescribe medicine or therapy.

Most veterinarians are self-employed in private practice, but many work in veterinary hospitals, or teach or do research in colleges and universities. Some work in the meat products industry. Others work in government, such as for police, and wildlife departments, in animal control, and in the military. In government, Veterinarians try to control and eliminate disease, protect wildlife, and examine livestock in slaughterhouses.

To practice veterinary medicine in most states, you must have a doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. Typically students must complete three years of Pre-Vet undergraduate studies prior to admission in a professional program. Pre-Vet coursework should include: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Physiology, Genetics, English, and Statistics. There are very few veterinary schools, so competition is stiff, and only those with the highest grades are accepted. Many schools advise students to work in veterinary clinics as assistants during high school or undergraduate school in order to improve their chances of admission. Veterinary school is rigorous, considered by most to be more difficult than medical school due to the fact that veterinarians must know the physiology of many species, while physicians must just know the physiology of humans. Many students eventually drop out of vet school and quite a few of them go on to attend medical school.

For those veterinarians who wish to go into private practice, it is also advisable to have some coursework in business administration, including accounting and management, since they will be business owners. These vets must be competent in all areas of business in order to have a successful practice. In spite of the difficulty in achieving a degree in Veterinary Medicine, salaries for vets are relatively low.

There are many specialties in veterinary medicine. Some vets specialize in large animals, providing health care to farm animals. Others specialize in exotic animals and are typically employed by zoos. However, the need for exotic animal specialists in private practice is growing, since more and more people are keeping snakes, iguanas, turtles and exotic birds as pets. Still other vets specialize in research, helping to develop advanced animal healthcare techniques, many times based on human procedures.

Vets in private practice are relied upon heavily by pet owners. They develop important professional relationships with the owners of pets that they treat. For this reason, it is critical that veterinarians have good communication and customer service skills. They must be able to work with all types of people, and have empathy for the importance that pets have in the lives of their owners.

Veterinarians are extremely important to the communities they serve. Whether treating horses and cows for farmers, dogs and cats for pet owners, or wildlife and exotics for zoos, they provide a valuable service to those who rely on animals for their livelihood and those who consider them members of the family. If you want more information on jobs available to veterinarians, visit



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