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A veterinarian (American English) or a veterinary surgeon (British English), often shortened to vet, is a physician for animals (excluding humans) and a practitioner of veterinary medicine. The word comes from the Latin veterinae meaning "working animals". "Veterinarian" was first used in print by Thomas Browne in 1646.[1] Many careers are open to those with veterinary degrees (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, D.V.M.) or B.V.Sc. & A. H. (Bachelor of veterinary science and animal husbandry). Those working in clinical settings often practice medicine in a limited field such as "companion animal", pet medicine (small animals such as dog, cat, and pocket pets), production medicine or livestock medicine. Production medicine includes specialties in dairy cattle, beef cattle, swine, sheep, and poultry, equine medicine (e.g., sport, race track, show, rodeo), laboratory animal medicine, reptile medicine, or ratite medicine. Veterinarians may choose to specialize in medical disciplines such as surgery, dermatology or internal medicine, after post-graduate training and certification.

Some veterinarians pursue post-graduate training and enter research careers, and have contributed advances in many human and veterinary medical fields, including pharmacology and epidemiology. Research veterinarians were the first to isolate oncoviruses, Salmonella species, Brucella species, and various other pathogenic agents. Veterinarians were in the fore-front in the effort to suppress malaria and yellow fever in the United States, and a veterinarian was the first to note disease caused by West Nile Virus in New York zoo animals. Veterinarians determined the identity of the botulism disease-causing agent; produced an anticoagulant used to treat human heart disease; and developed surgical techniques for humans, such as hip-joint replacement, limb and organ transplants.

Like physicians, veterinarians must make serious ethical decisions about their patients' care. For example, there is ongoing debate within the profession over the ethics of performing declawing of cats and docking or cropping tails and ears, spaying or neutering dogs, as well as "debarking" dogs, the housing of sows in gestation crates and the housing of egg laying poultry hens in cages (battery cage).

Contents

Education and regulation

A veterinarian gives an injection to a goldfish

The educational requirement for the veterinarian varies with each country. Typically, it takes from four years to eight years of education after graduating from high school to obtain a veterinary degree. The degree granted also varies with each country. Some grant the equivalent of a bachelor's degree, while others grant a doctorate degree. In the United States, holders of either degrees are allowed to practice as a veterinarian if they succeed in passing a national and state board exam.

In the United States, veterinary schools are frequently state supported institutions. Because of such state might be significantly different than that of another state, depending on the number of positions available, and the number of in-state applicants available. Because of this, veterinary school admission can be much more and yet much less competitive than other states. Ratio of applications to students accepted varies tremendously between each school, mostly due to the variation in the schools residency requirement. Options are available for students to apply to over seas school, but graduates are often not regarded as highly if post-graduate training is desired. Entry into veterinary school in the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), Medical College Admission Test|MCAT]], or VCAT.[2][3] and other animal-related experience (typically 500 or more hours combined).

In the United States the average veterinary medical student has an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 and a GRE score of approximately 1350. In the U.S. and Canada, veterinary school lasts four years with at least one year being dedicated to clinical rotations. In the U.S., one can enter veterinary school after completing the pre-veterinary requirement in as little as two years, but most veterinary school applicants have completed a bachelor degree before entry into the professional program. In many countries, the veterinary degree is granted after the completion of a bachelor degree, and is not a post-graduate program as the U.S. and Canada. Entry into veterinary school in the US often requires taking one of the three following tests: GRE (Graduate Record Examination), MCAT (Medical College Acceptance Test), or VCAT (Veterinary College Acceptance Test). After completion of the national board examination, some newly-accredited veterinarians choose to pursue residencies or internships in certain (usually more competitive) fields.

In India, the Veterinary medical degree is known as Bachelor of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry (B.V.Sc. and A.H.). The programme lasts for a period of five years with 4.5 years of course work and six months of clinical and farm training internships. Admission to the Veterinary Colleges are through the tests conducted by the Agricultural and Veterinary Universities in the respective states or through a National Level Joint Entrance Test.

Salary

Median salary for small animal exclusive veterinarians who do not own their practice ranges from US$70,000 to US$91,000. Owning a practice can earn a vet a median salary from US$55,000 to US$151,000 depending on experience and type of practice owned.[4] The mean salary for new graduates in 2008 was US$48,328, but this included nearly 40% going on to advanced study programs. New small animal vets made just under US$65,000 on average.[5] and a ballpark range of a one year salary would be between 60,000-83,000

What a veterinarian does

  • Diagnoses animal health problems.
  • Vaccinates against diseases, such as distemper and rabies.
  • Medicates animals suffering from infections or illnesses.
  • Treats and dresses wounds.
  • Sets fractures.
  • Performs minor to complex surgery, depending on training.
  • Advises owners about animal feeding, behavior, and breeding.
  • Euthanizes animals when necessary.
  • Provides preventive care to maintain the health of food animals.
  • Tests for and vaccinates against diseases.
  • Consults with farm or ranch owners and managers on animal production, feeding, and housing issues.
  • Performs diagnostic test such as Xray, EKG, ultrasound, blood, urine, and feces.

Continuation

The economic outlook for newly graduated veterinarians is clouded by the high debt carried by many graduates, as the cost of veterinary medical education rises. As in other medical fields, new veterinarians tend to concentrate in urbanized areas[citation needed] and economic competition is limiting post-graduate opportunities in private practice. On the other hand, veterinarians are able to set-up successful new practices in established markets by providing special services such as emergency and critical care clinics for pets and mobile veterinary clinics or by obtaining advanced training and certification in specialty fields of medicine. More than 3,800 veterinarians in the USA currently work at veterinary schools where they participate in research and teach vet students; teaching is another career path for a veterinarian.

There is some concern about the decreasing number of new veterinary graduates pursuing careers in the livestock industry. The majority of today's veterinary students grew up in urban or suburban areas, providing limited, if any, exposure to livestock medicine or farm animals prior to veterinary school. Livestock medicine, once based on serving many family farms such as those depicted in the James Herriot series, is increasingly specialized, as farms are decreasing in number but increasing in individual size. Today's livestock veterinarian is more likely to work in a one-species discipline, perhaps as a full-time on-site veterinarian for one specific farm, than to work in the pastoral settings so common only one generation ago. This change in livestock medicine has brought improvements to the health and efficiency of food production. However, without regular exposure to this growing field of veterinary practice, students are less likely to pursue this line of profession. The concern is that as the baby-boomer generation of large animal veterinarians retires, there will not be enough young veterinarians to continue its work. Veterinary schools are aware of this issue, and most now expect a pre-veterinary background which includes large animal experience. Some veterinary schools are doing more to encourage the acceptance of students planning a career in production medicine by providing an alternate admissions process and specific scholarships.[6]

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How to become a veterinarian

The first step is to learn what a veterinarian does. Many large animal veterinarians will let a high school or college student accompany them on their work day. Small animal veterinarians are often willing to take volunteers. Working with animals can be dangerous, and a signed release might be required. Most veterinary schools require or expect animal experience and veterinary experience. Animal experience can be had working on farms, kennels, and veterinary clinics. Veterinary experience can be acquired observing veterinarians or working in veterinary facilities. Most students have a combined veterinary and animal experience of at least 500 hours. Any time spent working with animals or a veterinarian needs to be documented. In high school, a student should expect to complete all electives in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics, if available. In college, one needs to complete one year of general chemistry, one year of organic chemistry, one year of biology, one year of physics, and at least college trigonometry. Some schools require one course of biochemistry, embryology, and an animal science course. Each veterinary school requires different pre-vet courses, and usually a student will apply to only one or two veterinary schools due to residency requirements in the United States. Depending on the school applied to, the student may be expected to take one of the 3 tests (GRE, MCAT, or VCAT) after one to three years of college. It is good to get exposure to all species of animals, if possible. In veterinary school, one is expected to treat and handle all species of animals. Veterinary school is rigorous, and physically and mentally demanding. A student should be able to handle at least 15 to 18 hours of a science curriculum before entry into the professional program. It frequently takes a veterinarian 1 to 3 tries at applying to a school before gaining acceptance. GPA is important, but of equal importance is maturity, life experience, and commitment to the profession. Undergraduate major is not important, as long as the prerequisite courses are completed. At minimum, it will take 2 years of college to complete your pre-veterinary requirements. It takes a minimum of 6 years of college education to complete the requirements of the D.V.M. Most veterinarians have completed the requirement of a bachelor degree before entry into veterinary school.

Skills required of a general practice veterinarian

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In many respects a veterinarian is similar to a pediatrician. Animals cannot talk like human beings, and much of the clinical history is obtained from the owner or client; as a pediatrician would obtain from a child's parents. Excellent people skills, and communication skills are required.

What can not be obtained from the clinical history, is acquired with the fingers, eyes, and smell. The ability to listen with a stethoscope and palpate with the fingers and hands will reveal much of the physical findings. The sense of smell is also important, in detecting the fruity odor of the ketotic cow's breath, or the urea from the breath of a cat in renal failure.

What can not be revealed by the history and exam is further supported by diagnostic tests like blood work, urinalysis, and fecal exam. Veterinarians are well trained in laboratory medicine and parasitology.

The general practice veterinarian spends one third to one half of his or her time in surgery. Animal neutering operations are done in most veterinarians' offices. Many veterinarians also perform orthopedic procedures, bone setting, dentistry, and trauma surgery. Surgery requires good hand and eye coordination, and fine motor skills. A vet's job is similar to that of a human doctor.

Occupational or species specializations

Exotic Animal Medicine

Usually refers to animals such as reptiles, exotic birds, and small animals (ferrets, rabbits, degus, sugar gliders, and more).

Small Animal Medicine

Usually encompasses mainly dogs and cats and other household pets such as gerbils and other small animals.

Large Animal Medicine

Usually referring to vets that work with large farm animals and equine species.

Feline Medicine

A veterinarian who specializes solely in cat-related medicine.

Mixed Practice

Generally refers to a veterinarian who treats both large and small animals.

Laboratory Animal Medicine

A veterinarian working in a university or industrial laboratory responsible for the care and treatment of laboratory animals of any species. This often involves bovine, porcine, feline, canine, rodents, and even exotic animals. Their responsibility is not only for the health and well being of the animals, but they are also responsible for enforcing humane and ethical treatment of the animals in the facility.

Equine Medicine

A veterinarian who specializes only in the surgery or medicine of equine species.

Dairy Medicine

A large part of dairy medicine is nutrition, herd management, and reproduction.

Porcine Medicine

Essentially herd medicine in the management of swine herds. Focuses on nutrition, reproduction, and minor field surgery.

Poultry Medicine

A veterinarian responsible for the health of flocks of poultry. The field often involves extensive training in pathology, epidemiology, and nutrition of birds. The veterinarian treats the flock and not the individual animals.

Food Animal Medicine

This field usually encompasses porcine, bovine, and ovine medicine.

Surgical and Medical Subspecialties

As opposed to human medicine, general practice veterinarians greatly out-number veterinary specialists. Most veterinary specialists work at the veterinary school, or at a referral center in large cities. As opposed to human medicine, where each organ system has its own medical and surgical specialties, veterinarians often combine both the surgical and medical aspect of an organ system into one field. The specialties in veterinary medicine often encompass several medical and surgical specialties that are found in human medicine. Within each veterinary specialty, one will often find a separation of large animal medicine from small animal medicine. Some veterinary specialties are evolving, some are limited only in the teaching universities, and some are practiced only in the field.

Anaesthesiology

A specialty limited to teaching in hospitals and schools. Most veterinarians practice anaesthesiology in their own office.

Animal Behavior and Psychotropic Pharmacology

A relatively new specialty, with an increased interest in modulating abnormal animal behavior.

Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery

Manages cardiac and conductance disorders. Also performs cardiothoracic surgery for the treatment of congenital and acquired heart diseases.

Chiropractic Medicine

Veterinary chiropractic is the adaptation of principles of manipulative and chiropractic medicine to animals. Some veterinarians have dual degree in chiropractic medicine and veterinary medicine.

Dentistry

A very important but often neglected area of animal health. There is much for veterinarians to learn about restorative dentistry, and endodontics. There is much more for pets owners to learn about preventive dental care - and knowledge of the specialty.

Dermatology and Dermatopathology

As in human medicine, veterinary dermatologists are often the specialist in dermatopathology. Dermatology in animals ecompasses much of the field of Allergy and Immunulogy, which is a separate entity in human medicine.

Endocrinology

Important in teaching institution and referral centers. Each species of animals have their own unique endocrine disorders. Endocrine function of animals often varies between breeds of animals of the same species. Most of the endocrine disorders are emerged from macro- and micro-mineral deficiencies.

Emergency Medicine and Critical Care

Also cover the field of emergency or trauma surgery. The veterinarian is trained in medicine, surgery, and critical care of the severely injured or ill animal.

Epidemiology and Public Health

Important in the studies to improve herd health, prevent transmissible diseases, and to keep the food supply safe from zoonotic diseases.

Equine Surgery

Encompasses diagnosis and surgical treatment of horses. Including intestinal disorders and orthopedic surgery.

Food Animal Surgery

This is a specialty mainly present in teaching hospitals. Most large animal veterinarian also perform surgery in the field and in their clinics. Veterinarian assistants can not perform any surgery on animals.

Infectious Diseases and Foreign Animal Diseases

A very important specialty in the control of infectious diseases in the herds, and the spread of economically important foreign animal diseases. Specialists in this field work in the regulatory agencies, and teaching institutions.

Internal Medicine

As opposed to human medicine, where an internist is often considered a primary care physician of adults; a veterinary internal medicine specialist, is a specialist. The specialty in the United States require 2 years or more of residency training. They are trained to manage complex medical conditions, and often work at teaching universities and hospitals.

Neurology and Neurologic Surgery

Veterinary neurologists are both surgeon and neurologist in practice. This is different than in human medicine, where neurologists are the medical side of the specialty, and neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeons focus on the surgical side.

Nutrition

An important food animal medicine, and herd medicine. Specialists in this area include veterinarians and animal scientists. Most large animal veterinarians are also excellent nutritionists. Nutritionists also work in the pet food industry in quality assurance and research.

Oncology

Covers the diagnosis and management of malignancies in animals. As animals are considered to be a part of the family, curative and pallative care is often demanded when malignacies develop. The best of chemotherapy, radiation oncology, and surgical oncology is now available for animals.

Orthopedic Surgery

Most veterinarian perform some orthopedic procedures in their offices. Specialists in the field perform complex internal fixation and external fixations, including joint replacement in the small animals. Some equine surgeons also practice limited internal fixation in horses.

Ophthalmology

Specializes in the diagnosis of eye diseases, and surgery of the eye and eyelids.

Pharmacology

As animals metabolize drugs in many different ways,veterinary clinical pharmacologists are important in the study of drug use in animals.

Parasitology

A specialist often found in teaching hospitals and universities. All veterinarians practice parasitology in their offices.

Pathology and Hematology

A very broad field that covers multiple species, organ systems, domestic and foreign animal diseases. The veterinary pathologists perform necropsies (autopsies), collect specimens, and read pathological slides. They assist clinicians in the diagnosis of illnesses and seek causes of deaths in animals.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Important in the recovery of neurosurgical and orthopedic patients. A relatively new field with application in both small animals and equine medicine. Animal physical therapy is used to relieve pain, restore mobility, strength, and function so as to further enhance the ability of animals following injury, surgery, neurological problems, or orthopedic conditions. As a new growing profession, animal physical therapists are evidenced based healthcare professionals that often work with the owner, veterinarian, and sometimes other healthcare professionals to help animals achieve maximal performance. One of the small animals seen in animal physical therapy are canines. This branch of animal physical therapy is known as canine physical therapy.

Radiology and Radiation Oncology

This specialty involves the interpretation of imaginging modalities, including X-rays, MRI, CT scans, ultrasounds, echocardiograms, and doppler devices. Also administers radiation treatment for malignancies and endocrine diseases.

Soft Tissue Surgery

The clinician operate on skin, muscle, and GI tract.

Theriogenology

The theriogenology involves the study and treatment of reproductive disorders. Reproduction is an economically important aspect of bovine, porcine, ovine, and equine practices.

Urology and Nephrology

Specialist in the treatment and surgery of kidney and bladder diseases.

Regulatory medicine

Some veterinarians work in regulatory medicine, ensuring a nation's food safety, e.g. the USDA FSIS, or work by protecting a country from imported exotic animal diseases, e.g. the USDA APHIS. The emerging field of conservation medicine involves veterinarians even more directly with human health care, providing a multidisciplinary approach to medical research that also involves environmental scientists.

In popular culture

Well-known depictions of a veterinarian at work are in James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small, made into a BBC series.

Doctor Dolittle is a series of children's books, one of which was turned into a 1967 movie. The movie was remade in 1998 with Eddie Murphy as Dr. Dolittle.

US-based cable network Animal Planet, with animal-based programming, frequently features veterinarians. Two notable shows are Emergency Vets and E-Vet Interns, set at Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver, Colorado.

The character Steve Parker in Neighbours is a vet.

Vincent Ventresca in the horror film Larva is a veterinarian.

Workplace

Small animal veterinarians typically work in veterinary clinics or veterinary hospitals, or both. Large animal veterinarians often spend more time traveling to see their patients at the primary facilities which house them (zoos, farms, etc).

As opposed to a human doctor's office, which only have exam rooms, a veterinarian's office is more like a hospital with a full pharmacy. Waiting rooms are available often with separate areas for dogs, cats, and exotics. Laboratory to include microscope, parasitology preps, chemistry analyzer, and blood count capability. A full surgery with orthopedic and general surgery packs, and general anesthesia equipment. A kennel for hospitalizing sick animals, and to quarantine infectious ones. An X-ray machine with a dark room for processing films. And finally, a full dispensary pharmacy with oral and systemic drugs.

In comparison to human medicine, veterinarians charge only a fraction for the services rendered.

See also

References

External links


Simple English

A vet or a veterinarian, is someone who gives animals medical treatment. They are doctors for animals.There are many different types of veterinarians; some work with small animals, large farm animals, or wild animals. Veterinarians learn to treat all animals, but sometimes work with a specific type. Other veterinarians specialize in a particular type of medicine - for example, veterinary dermatologists work with animals with skin problems. Finally, some veterinarians do research on animal or human diseases.

To become a vet, you must go to college for at least 2 years, and take several required classes, including many science classes. You then apply to veterinary school. If you are accepted, you are in veterinary school for 4 years, and then graduate with the degree Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), or Veterinariae Medicinae Doctoris (VMD) if you graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. In the United States, you have to pass a test (called the NAVLE) before you can practice as a veterinarian.

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