The Scoop on Veterinarians
Veterinarians take care of our pets and keep them well, but there is so much more to Veterinary Medicine than meets the eye.
What in the World do Veterinarians do?
Veterinarians treat and care for animals in all manner of situations. The general care of an animal is what most Veterinarians deal with on a daily basis. How the animal is to be fed, how the animal plays, how the animal interacts with other animals, and how the animal interacts with humans are all integral parts of how a Veterinarian determines how best to take care of each and every animal in their care.
If you're working as a Veterinarian you are also responsible for diagnosing diseases in animals and running the tests required to figure how sick an animal is. You would also need to know how to bandage wounded animals, set broken bones, and perform surgeries...all while calming an animal that doesn't speak your language. This is the kind of job where you MUST have an affinity for the patient (the animals.)
Remember that a Veterinarian deals with an animals health in much the same way your "regular" Doctor does. This is important to note because many people may think that Veterinary medicine is MUCH different from being an M.D, but really they are quite similar.
What Kind of Training do I Need? (A.K.A. - Will I have to go to School?)
Veterinary medicine requires about the same amount of training you would need to become a "human" Doctor. First, you must obtain a Bachelor's Degree (in a sort of science. Biology, Chemistry, etc.) And then you must run the gauntlet of Veterinary School admissions. Each applicant to a Veterinary School must have completed the VCAT or MCAT (Veterinary and Medical Competency Tests) before getting in and you must be ready for a 4 year program.
At the end of 4 years you will be a D.V.M. (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) and then you will need to intern as a Veterinarian for 1-3 years. This usually happens in a large and established practice. In the meantime you will also need a license to practice and this will come from the State Board. Usually, you are required to pass a written exam and then a "skills" test. Once you have your license and you have completed your internship it's time to get a job!
How Do I get One of These Jobs Anyways?
Most Veterinarians work in private practices. This is really the way you can open your own business, set your own hours and determine what kinds of services you'll offer. You will also have to hire a staff of assistants to help you because, unlike people, pets don't just wait in their rooms until you come calling. You will also need a clerical staff to deal with appointments and billing for your clients. Sometimes, if you want to become a partner in a practice, you could work in a larger practice with a few Veterinarians where all of you can offer every service that your clients need.
Some Veterinarians work as "Large Animal Veterinarians" where they drive their truck or van out to farms and plantations to care for a farmer's livestock. Still others work in Zoos caring for the animals that are on display. Still more, you could work at an aquarium or animal shelter caring for the animals in those facilities. The work is grueling because you will need to work some irregular hours and may need to bring people in unexpectedly to help their pets. However, you don't just have to take care of Mrs. Carlisle's cat your whole career if that's not the ONLY thing you want to do.