How to Become a Veterinary Doctor?

How to Become a Veterinary Doctor

Are you an animal lover? What if you get an opportunity to promote the health and welfare of animals around you? People living in urban and rural areas keep pets for livelihood as well as companionship. In cities, pets are considered as a significant part of a family and people strive to provide their family pets with the best facilities and care. This has lead to an increased demand for veterinary medical professionals all across the world. Veterinary Science offers one of the most popular and rewarding careers for individuals with an interest in Medicine packed with a love for animals. If you’re wondering how to become a veterinary doctor, then this blog will provide you with all the essential details about the profession as well as the key steps you need to take in order to pursue a career in Veterinary Science.

Who is a Veterinary Doctor?

Veterinary Science is a specialized branch of science that involves the treatment of diverse types of diseases in animals and birds. It is quite similar to the human Medical Sciences as their primary aim lies in the prevention and elimination of illnesses or ailments and restoration of the biological organisms to a healthier state. 

Veterinarians or Veterinary Doctors (Vets) are commonly referred to as ‘animal doctors’ as they diagnose and treat pets, livestock and other animals experiencing diseases, sickness and other medical conditions. In order to understand how to become a veterinary doctor, it is essential to familiarise yourself with their major duties and responsibilities:

  • Providing preventative care like vaccinations and check-ups.
  • Examining animals, treating wounds and performing surgeries.
  • Providing emergency care and euthanizing animals.
  • Advising animal owners about the care and prescribing medications.

Animal doctors can choose to work in urban areas where they are responsible for handling domestic pets or government-aided animal care centres and animal husbandry departments. Other than this, vets who work with farm animals also travel to facilitate treatment and diagnosis of their patients. 

How to Become a Veterinary Doctor

Types of Veterinarians

The question of how to become a veterinary doctor is best answered when you are aware of the fact that you can choose your career in any of the following specialized disciplines of Veterinary Science.

  1. Companion Animal Veterinarians are usually found in private hospitals and provide treatment to pet animals like cats, dogs, birds, etc.
  2. Food Animal Veterinarians deal with illness and injuries of farm animals like cattle, sheep, pigs and literate the farm owners about animal feeding and other health practices.
  3. Food Safety and Inspection Veterinarians generally work on research to find preventions of animal diseases that are transmissible among animals and between humans and animals.
  4. Equine Veterinarians facilitate the medical treatment of horses.
  5. Research Veterinarians are involved in research to find a new diagnosis and surgical techniques.

Key Skills Required to Become a Vet

If you have an affinity towards animals and want to transform it into a dream career, the right education and training can equip you with the essential knowledge and skills of a veterinarian. Vets are required to learn the different aspects of animal care, including restraint, diets, surgeries, medical conditions, vaccines, parasites and more. Moreover, this requires ardent patience and commitment to help animals, pets and their owners.

Wondering about how to become a veterinary doctor? Here are 5 essential characteristics of a veterinarian that you need to imbibe in order to practice the science of veterinary medicine:

  • Good attitude and excellent communication skills to facilitate helpful interactions with pet owners.
  • Empathetic and genuine approach towards pet owners to offer reassurance and support.
  • Efficient time management and an organisational personality to assure that medical operations in clinics and hospitals are run smoothly.
  • Technical aptitude to handle technical machinery and lab equipment for diagnostics and accuracy when dealing with injured and sick animals.
  • A passion for animal welfare and wellbeing.

Step-by-Step Process of Becoming a Veterinary Doctor

To help you further in your research on how to become a veterinary doctor, we have listed down the process of attaining a degree in Veterinarian Science by breaking it down in four steps:

Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

If you’re aspiring to become a veterinarian, it is important to have a bachelor’s degree to qualify for admission into a veterinary college. You must have a Science background covering major subjects like Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Moreover, some colleges also require students to meet Humanities, Social Science or Mathematics prerequisites.

You can explore this field through extracurricular activities like pre-veterinary clubs that can help you acquire a basic knowledge of Veterinary Medicine. You can also grab the opportunity to work under a licensed veterinarian or volunteer at animal shelters or kennels to gain maximum experience before you actually start your DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) program.

Step 2: Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

To get an admission in a DVM program abroad, you need to take the GRE test and submit your scores to the admission office. The GRE test basically evaluates your verbal, quantitative and analytical skills and you need to ensure that you achieve a minimum required score. Also, you can go for an Educational Testing Service (ETS) which develops the GRE and offer a wide range of helpful preparation materials and practice tests. However, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) is an alternative that some colleges and universities may accept in lieu of the GRE.

Step 3: Complete the DVM Program

A DVM program deals with a variety of subjects such as Animal Anatomy and Physiology, Veterinary Neurobiology and Genetics, Immunology, Zoology, Radiology and Parasitology. The course generally lasts for 4 years which includes 3 years of pre-clinical instruction and the final year comprises of clinical training. During your final year, you get an exposure to work with animals and participate in a variety of rotations involving Anesthesiology, Cardiology, Dermatology, Dentistry and Surgery.

Moreover, a DVM program covers the following topics:

  • Gross Anatomy
  • Parasitology
  • Radiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Veterinary Physiology
  • Animal Behavior
  • Animal Health and Disease
  • Food Animal Medicine
  • Veterinary Practice

Step 4: Obtain a License

Moving towards the end of the process of how to become a veterinary doctor, it’s time to earn licensure. Once you get a DVM degree, you may need to submit an application and pay required fees for a Veterinary Licensing Examination like NAVLE (North American Veterinary Licensing Examination) administered by the International Council for Veterinary Assessment along with an exam which covers state laws and regulations. Now, when you have earned a license to work as a Veterinary Doctor, you need to ensure that you obtain licensure from each state in which you work because licensure usually do not transfer to other states.

Step 5: Look for an Additional Certification

As a veterinarian, you may want to consider obtaining speciality certification in Veterinary Science such as Surgery, Internal Medicine, Dentistry, Radiology, Behaviour, Laboratory Animal Medicine, Nutrition, Emergency and Critical Care. You are supposed to have 3-4 years of experience or additional training to be eligible for certification, depending on the speciality. However, these certifications are completely optional. 

Top 10 Universities and Colleges for Veterinary Science

Want to know how to become a veterinary doctor? For those wishing to pursue a career in Veterinary Science, here is a list of top 10 universities and colleges offering an exciting program in Veterinary Practice and Science.

Here is a comparison table listing top veterinary schools of 2019 based on QS World University Ranking:

University
College
for
Veterinary
Science
LocationCoursesQS World
University
Ranking 2019 for
Veterinary
Science 
Royal
Veterinary
College,
University
of
London
United
Kingdom
1. BSc programs in
Veterinary Medicine,
Veterinary Nursing &
Bioscience

2. Clinical programme,
Small, Equine
& Farm Animal Medicine

3. Graduate Diploma in
Veterinary Nursing
1
University
of
California,
Davis 
United
States
1. Graduate Clinical
Residency programs

2. Master of Preventive
Veterinary Medicine

3. Graduate Academic
MS and PhD programs

4. Animal Science,
Animal Biology,
Doctor of Veterinary
Medicine programs
2
Utrecht
University
Netherlands1. Bachelor’s degree
program in
Veterinary Medicine

2. Master’s degree
programs in
Companion Animal
Health,
Equine Health &
Farm Animal Health,
Veterinary Public Health
3
University
of
Cambridge
United
Kingdom
1. Bachelor in Veterinary
Medicine

2. MPhil in Veterinary
Science
4
Cornell
University
United
States
1. DVM, MS &
PhD degree programs

2. Research programs
including a centre
for canine &
equine research

3. Food animal medicine
5
University of
Edinburgh
United
Kingdom
1. Bachelor of
Veterinary Medicine
& Surgery

2. BSc (Hons)
Agricultural Science
(Animal Science)
6
University
of
Guelph
Canada1. DVM, Bachelor’s
degrees in
Biomedical Science

2. DVSc, MSc, MPH, PhD &
Diploma programs
at the graduate level
7
Ohio State
University
United
States
1. DVM, MS and PhD degree
programs

2. Veterinary Public Health
Program

3. Graduate Certificate in
Global One Health
8
University
of
Sydney
Australia1. Bachelor of
Veterinary Biology

2. Doctor of Veterinary
Medicine
9
University
of
Liverpool
United
Kingdom
1. BVSc course,
BSc degree courses

2. Master’s degrees in
Veterinary Parasitology,
Veterinary Infection &
Disease Control
& Animal Reproduction
9

Let’s Summarise

The job of a veterinary doctor can be physically demanding, noisy and stressful with a potential risk of injury and infection. However, private practices can promise higher earnings along with appreciation and respect.

Also Read: Top Medical Courses

With a continuous requirement for the safety of animals and birds, it is beneficial to know the process of how to become a veterinary doctor in order to understand the programs in Veterinary Science and its specialized courses offered around the world. There is nothing more rewarding than following your passion to help animals and birds and creating better medical treatments for their care. Let Leverage Edu’s AI tool help you browse through numerous universities offering courses in Veterinary Science and find an ideal one that suits your interests and ambitions.

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