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What Is a Veterinarian and How to Become One

Veterinarian

What Do Veterinarians Do?

Veterinarians provide medical care to animals, including diagnosing diseases, treating any ailments or injuries, advising owners on proper care, and conducting regular check-ups on the health and well-being of these animals. A career as a veterinarian is a great choice for people who have a passion for science and animals.

What Does a Veterinarian Education Entail?

Like many careers in the medical field, becoming a veterinarian requires an investment in your education. You need to obtain your bachelor’s degree in a science-related field, such as zoology, biology, chemistry, or animal science. Following your undergraduate education, you must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program. These programs typically take four years to complete and are divided into segments of two years. The first two years are mostly classroom instruction, while the final two years involve more hands-on clinical experience. After the DVM program is completed, veterinarians must also become licensed. Every state requires that veterinarians pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE). Some states have additional requirements beyond the national licensure, such as passing clinical skills or veterinary law exams.

Where Can I Find Veterinarian Jobs?

The majority of veterinarians work in private clinics and animal hospitals. However, that's not the only place a veterinarian can find work. Others are employed by the government or work in laboratories and classrooms in an educational and research capacity. Some veterinarians also travel between their offices and farms and ranches in order to provide care to livestock and ensure safety standards are being met.

What Is Veterinary Medicine?

Veterinary medicine is a branch of medicine that focuses exclusively on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of injury and disease in non-human animals.

How to Start a Veterinarian Career?

Following education and licensure, many veterinarians decide to invest additional time to gain experience by participating in an internship. It’s a great way to boost their resumes beyond their education. With some experience under their belts, veterinarians can secure more permanent positions and establish their careers. Many veterinarians choose to specialize in a certain field—such as surgery or internal medicine. Those who select a specialty must complete additional education or a residency.

Veterinarian Job Description Sample

With this Veterinarian job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Veterinarian role.

Job Summary

We are seeking a motivated and caring veterinarian to join our facility so that we can continue to provide quality care to our animal patients. In this role, you will have a variety of responsibilities both inside the clinic and out, including one-on-one appointments with pets, companion animals, and their families, conducting research and development, and inspecting livestock.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Treat, and prevent an array of animal diseases and illnesses
  • Conduct tests and observations to provide a proper diagnoses
  • Prescribe necessary medications
  • Administer vaccines to prevent common diseases
  • Perform operations and provide therapy or other treatments to heal animal injury
  • Perform spay and neuter surgeries
  • Communicate with animal owners to answer questions and educate them on situations and treatment plans
  • Head out into the field to inspect and treat livestock and their living conditions when required
  • Conduct research and development to advance the veterinary medicine field
  • Collaborate with veterinary assistants and other staff to provide top-notch care to customers

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Passion for animals and an active interest in their health and wellbeing
  • Knowledge of all veterinary best practices, and a desire to advance the field
  • Excellent verbal communication skills to build rapport and adequately communicate with patients and staff
  • Problem-solving capabilities with a willingness to tackle unique challenges
  • High emotional intelligence with the ability to empathize with families
  • Ability to manage time, prioritize, and thrive in an oftentimes fast-paced and high-pressure environment
  • Strong leadership skills
  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree
  • Possession of a veterinary license and willingness to continually meet licensing requirements
  • 1-3 years of veterinary experience in a clinic or animal hospital environment