December 1, 2008

Veterinary Education

Every Monday at the JobMonkey blog, we focus on a different career path and the educational background you need to get started. 

Whether you are still in high school and thinking about your future, or you are a professional in a different field looking to try something new, the information here should help you get started on your journey. If there is a career that you are particularly interested in learning more about, please let me a note in the comments section so I can feature it in the coming weeks.

There are many different career paths for someone wishing to work in the veterinary field.  Today, I am going to focus on careers in veterinary medicine.  I profiled veterinary careers a while back on the blog, so go check it out if you aren’t sure what being a veterinarian entails.

Like medical doctors and dentists, veterinary doctors have to make a long-term educational commitment to their profession.  Not only must they graduate with a BA from a four-year college (usually with a major in the sciences) and attend a four-year veterinary school, but they must also maintain active involvement in continuing education courses within their sub-specialty. There is no doubt that being a veterinarian includes taking on a life-long commitment to ongoing learning and professional development.

Here are some basic facts about vet schools and the students who attend them:

•    There are 28 accredited schools of veterinary medicine in the U.S.
•    2,100 students graduate with an advanced degree in veterinary medicine every year
•    More than 8,500 students enrolled at any given time
•    Approximately 3 out of 4 vet students are women
•    To be accepted to vet school, you will need a strong background in science and math, although a major in one of those fields is not required; vet schools also look for a well-rounded educational background, including courses in history, humanities, English and foreign languages
•    Admission to veterinary school is extremely competitive.  The average acceptance rate is 43%.
•    Most students admitted to veterinary school have a GPA of at least 3.0. Students must take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).

After graduation, many students pursue either an internship or research fellowship to further their skills before landing their first full-time job. 

Sub-specialties such as pathology, surgery and radiology require a residency program of two to five years.

Even once veterinarians have finished school and passed all their licensing examination, their education never stops.  In addition to reading veterinary medicine journals and attending professional seminars, at least half of the states require licensed veterinarians to participate in annual continuing education classes.

To begin researching vet schools in the United States, see JobMonkey’s comprehensive list of veterinary degree programs.  You can also learn more about tuition and other fees in this article about the cost of veterinary school.

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