Veterinary medicine focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease and injury in animals. If you love animals and have a strong aptitude for science, veterinary medicine could be a rewarding field of study for you. Typically, students will complete their undergraduate degree in pre-veterinary studies or a related field, such as biology, before enrolling in a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. Students enrolling in a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program must meet all prerequisite course requirements including, but not limited to, prior coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, animal biology, animal nutrition, microbiology, and physiology.
Veterinary medicine students should expect an intensive program of natural science, lab, and clinical practice courses. While online doctoral veterinary medicine degrees are rare, online associate veterinary medicine degrees are available for potential vet techs. Students can also choose to pursue related online bachelors veterinary medicine degrees. Graduates who then successfully complete a doctorate program in veterinary medicine and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam are eligible to practice as veterinarians. Most veterinarians work in private or group practices, but there are also employment opportunities in education, research, and government.
Classes and Assignments of a Veterinary Medicine Major
After completing the necessary undergraduate prerequisites, students can apply to a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. Most students complete a bachelor’s degree in pre-veterinary studies, biology, or another natural science before applying. Those interested in pursuing veterinary medicine should know that it is a highly competitive and demanding field of study.
Veterinary medicine students must be prepared to complete intensive natural science, lab, and clinical practice courses. Common topics include animal anatomy, physiology, veterinary immunology, microbiology, parasitology, animal nutrition, pharmacology, toxicology, pathology, surgery and anesthesiology, clinical skills, and professional development. Students will also be required to demonstrate their skills in supervised clinical settings.
Degree Levels for a Veterinary Medicine Major
- Bachelor’s. Some schools offer programs in pre-veterinary studies; however, others may choose to major in biology, zoology, or another natural science. To qualify for entrance into a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program, students will need to complete all prerequisite course work required by the school to which they are applying. This typically includes courses such as organic chemistry, physics, microbiology, zoology, biochemistry, and cellular biology, to name a few. Bachelor’s degree graduates must continue on to a doctoral program in veterinary medicine if they wish to practice as veterinarians.
- Doctoral. To practice as a licensed veterinarian, a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine is required. This is a professional degree. Admissions for these programs are highly competitive. If admitted, students can expect an intensive program which requires lecture, seminar, lab, and clinical practice courses. Courses will cover advanced topics in veterinary anatomy, physiology, immunology, microbiology, parasitology, animal nutrition, pharmacology, pathology, surgery, anesthesiology, and clinical skills. Graduates of a doctoral program in veterinary medicine who receive their licensure are qualified to work as veterinarians. Most veterinarians are employed as part of a private or group practice, but others may work in education, research, or government positions.
A Future as a Veterinary Medicine Major
If you are interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine, keep in mind that a professional degree is the best college degree for future success. In fact, to practice as a fully licensed veterinarian, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree is required. After receiving their doctorate, graduates must also pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Once licensed, most veterinarians pursue employment as part of a private or group practice.
However, others may find positions in education, private sector research, or government agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinarians earned a median annual salary of $79,050 in 2008. However, please keep in mind that salaries can vary based on the industry, level of experience, location, and demand for veterinarians.