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3 Requirements for Becoming a Veterinarian

Posted by Kristi Baxter

It takes a profound love for animals to even think about starting a veterinary career. And it also takes a lot of hard work and study. When planning for a career, don’t forget to consider the less obvious details, such as getting disability insurance for soon to be veterinarians.

What are the Educational Requirements for Veterinarians?

Several years of training and education go into earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. And even after earning a DVM, many graduates continue their education by joining a residency program or internship. Each state also requires vets to obtain a state license before they can start caring for animals.

There are three major steps to becoming a DVM:

  1. Undergraduate Study

Some veterinary schools will admit students who have not yet earned a bachelor’s degree, but some undergraduate work is required. Students should focus on science-related courses such as microbiology, zoology, animal nutrition, and animal biology. A college career counselor should be able to help with selecting the appropriate courses. If not, students can check with the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges to learn more about the course of study they should pursue as undergrads.

  1. Getting Admitted to Veterinary College

Veterinary schools are highly competitive, so getting admitted is really a task of its own. Along with their formal education, students should start preparing their resumes as soon as possible. Getting hands-on experience working in a scientific lab or directly with a licensed vet is a great place to start. Many hours of volunteering at a veterinary practice, a shelter, or a rescue organization will help make your application stand out. For some vet schools, volunteerism is actually required. Letters of recommendation and good scores on tests like the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) are also needed.

  1. Veterinarian Degree

Finally, it’s time to earn a DVM. Veterinary school is an additional four years of study after undergraduate school.  While in vet school, students will divide their time between laboratory sessions and attending lectures in the classroom. Some courses to expect are immunology, parasitology, pharmacology, and infectious diseases. Here, they’ll get hands-on experience working with different types of animals.

Beyond Schooling: Disability Insurance for Soon to be Veterinarians and More

Earning a veterinary degree is the most important step to becoming a vet, but it’s not the only one. After schooling, would-be vets must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination to get licensed and meet any other licensing requirements in their state.

All along the journey, students should be planning for their careers. What type of practice do they want to join or open? Those interested in specializing may have another 3 or 4 years of residency to complete. 

Starting a practice is exciting. It’s the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication. Protecting that practice and all the people who work there is a responsibility that needs to be taken seriously. What happens if the doctor becomes disabled due to illness or injury? Companies like Total Planning Veterinary Service can advise new veterinarians on the best ways to keep their practice running even if the unexpected happens.

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