The Dog Doctors Youth Outreach Program
Choosing a Veterinary Career
« What do I need to do to get into vet school?
The Office of Academic Affairs & Admissions at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine has lots of information from classes to take in high school to submitting an application to the College.
Many colleges and universities have a Pre-Veterinary Club you might consider joining. You can learn more at the American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association (APVMA) website.
You can find information about requirements for other colleges and schools at the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) website.
« What kind of personal qualities are needed to become a veterinarian?
A veterinary career is a lifelong commitment. Dedication to animal welfare is near the top of the list. As a veterinarian, you must take an oath to protect the welfare of animals.
Though medicine is a large part of this career, interpersonal skills are also important. Your job as a veterinarian may involve animals, but much of your success medically (animals don't treat themselves) and in your career will depend on how well you foster relationships—both between humans and animals and yourself and your clients.
Enjoyment of reading and research is must. The ability to handle stress will also come in handy through school and throughout your career. Lastly be prepared to maintain a higher level of physical endurance than other careers both for the long hours necessary and for dealing with heavy animals.
Veterinary Medicine can also provide international opportunities.
« What are the duties of a practicing veterinarian?
This is a difficult question to answer as there are so many different branches of veterinary medicine. We tend to picture the private practice veterinarian in a small community hospital, seeing patients and performing surgery but there are so many other choices.
There are veterinarians who treat only horses, for example. Some veterinarians treat food animals such as cows, chickens or pigs where the focus is on the health of the herd or group, not on the individual. Some veterinarians work in zoos, some with laboratory animals in research settings. Some work academically with microscopic organisms. Some teach. Some work with animal athletes such as race horses or sled dogs and some work with only fish.
Veterinary Medicine is a big world in and of itself with many choices to make and career life styles to choose from.
« What is the best aspect of being a practicing veterinarian?
Veterinarians serve the human-animal bond. We do so much more than just help sick animals; we help these animals be loved. The reward of seeing a patient recover and be returned to the loving arms of its family is unmatchable. We help bring more love into the world and doing that is the greatest contribution that can be made.
« What are the disadvantages of being a veterinarian?
Being a doctor requires staying abreast of an ever expanding body of medical information. This requires regular (if not daily) reading, attending seminars, and basically doing homework. If a lifetime as a student is not what you are looking for, becoming a doctor is probably not for you. Sometimes emergency hours are required. The work is physically challenging and the hours are long—traits not always amenable to family life.
Aside from the lifestyle issues of being a doctor, it is important to consider what the work entails. Though your title will be Doctor, there will be many situations where Counselor may be more appropriate. Private practice veterinarians have to euthanize patients, patients that they have seen grow up from baby puppies or kittens into adulthood. Their owners may be grieving, they may be angry or blaming but sometimes part of a veterinarian's job includes guidance through the end of a beloved pet's life. How will these stresses affect you on a day to day basis? Beyond this, there will cases where all your knowledge and all the resources open to you will not be enough to help your patient. For this you must be prepared.
Last Updated February 8, 2007
The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the administration of the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.
Office for Academic Affairs
College of Veterinary Medicine
The University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-7372