Today's veterinarian is dedicated to protecting the health and welfare of both animals and people. Veterinarians are highly educated and skilled in preventing, diagnosing, and treating animal health problems. Because their knowledge and training extends to a number of closely related areas, veterinarians are often involved in more than treating sick or injured animals.
Today's veterinarian is a member of a major health profession with its own system of education, licensure, organization, and ethics. In taking the veterinarian's oath, the doctor solemnly swears to use his or her scientific knowledge and skills "for the benefit of society, through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge."
In private practice, veterinarians work to prevent disease and other health problems. They examine animal patients, immunize them against diseases, and advise owners on ways to keep pets and livestock healthy.
In teaching and research, veterinarians work to expand their profession's knowledge of health and disease, and to assure that its members have the best possible preparation for providing the many services society requires of them.
In regulatory medicine, veterinarians have two major responsibilities. One is to control or eliminate livestock diseases and the other is to protect the public from animal diseases that can affect people.
In public health, veterinarians working for city, county, state, or federal public health agencies act in many different capacities to control disease and promote health. As epidemiologists they investigate disease outbreaks such as food-borne illness, ringworm, plague, or rabies. Some veterinarians in environmental health programs evaluate the safety of food processing plants, restaurants, and water supplies. Others study and investigate the effects of the numerous pesticides, industrial pollutants, and other contaminants.
In military service, veterinarians serve as officers in the United States Army Veterinary Corps, which is one of six separate corps comprising the Army Medical Department. The biggest responsibility, in terms of the number of Veterinary Corps officers specifically involved, is biomedical research and development. Veterinarians, particularly those with specialized training in laboratory animal medicine, veterinary pathology, microbiology, and related disciplines are actively engaged in a wide variety of research programs within the military and other governmental agencies.
In private industry, the greatest number of veterinarians are employed in research and development. These individuals have specialized training in pharmacology, microbiology, bateriology, pathology, parasitology, toxicology, endocrinology, and other fields which qualify them to carry out the clinical evaluation necessary for finding and developing new products.
In other professional activities, veterinarians perform a variety of functions. Zoo practice, aquatic animal medicine, space medicine, and wildlife management, for example, are small but important areas of involvement. Vets also work at animal shelters, racetracks, fur ranches, and circuses.
Students enrolled in veterinary colleges come from a wide variety of educational and employment backgrounds. Students wishing to apply to veterinary college should earn good grades in their pre-professional studies, especially in math and science. It is not necessary that a student complete a program specifically labeled "pre-veterinary" or "pre-vet." It is, however, necessary for applicants to complete all prerequisite Requirements before enrolling in one of the twenty-seven (27) U.S. or four (4) Canadian veterinary medical colleges/schools. These requirements vary significantly from one institution to another.
The 1995 edition of the Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements handbook is in the Health Professions Library.
The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) suggests seeking veterinary-related experience, either during the semester or in the summer months.
Talk to your veterinarian or think about visiting with a Lancaster area veterinarian. In the Health Professions Library, there is information about local vets who are interested in hosting F&M students with an interest in veterinary medicine. There are also alumni of F&M who are practicing veterinarians who appear in F&M's Healing Arts Network.
For further information about the visiting with a Lancaster area vet or the Health Professions Network, stop by and browse through the materials in the Health Professions Library at the Office of College House Administration at 623 College Avenue.
The AAVMC also suggests volunteering or seeking paid internships in places such as a veterinary clinic, farm, zoo, wildlife park, or ranch. They suggest keeping a record of the time you spend in each veterinary-related experience and the type of knowledge you gain from it. Working with a veterinarian will also help you decide if veterinary medicine is the career for you.