Veterinarian Degree

Practicing veterinarians will have one of two degrees: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or Veterinary Medical Doctor (VMD). There are 28 accredited schools in 26 states offering veterinary degrees in the United States. While 27 of the schools offer a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, the University of Pennsylvania offers a Veterinary Medical Doctor degree. The terminology is really the only differential separating the two degrees.


Prerequisites for the Veterinarian Degree

While prerequisites for admission to a veterinary program vary, applicants without a bachelor's degree will face major obstacles. The majority of applicants will have completed their undergraduate degree in a related field. Your preveterinary courses should be heavy in the sciences though with classes like: physics, biochemistry, organic and inorganic chemistry, general biology, animal biology, cellular biology, microbiology, genetics and animal nutrition. Math classes such as calculus or statistics, algebra, and trigonometry will most likely be required as well as social science classes. Some colleges are now requiring courses in business management to help veterinarians run their practice after graduating.

Required Courses in a Veterinarian Degree Program

Students accepted into a veterinarian program will spend the first two to two and a half years primarily engaged in the study of basic and clinical animal sciences. Clinical rotations usually begin in the middle of the third year and continue through the fourth year. Schools like UC Davis in California state that 75% of the studies will be didactic core material and 25% elective material. All students will be expected to complete about 12 Clinical Rotations which might include: Ambulatory & Production Medicine, Community Practice Medicine, Small Animal Medicine, Small Animal Surgery, Large Animal Medicine, Large Animal Surgery, Anesthesiology, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Pathology, Imaging, Animal (small or large) Emergency and Critical Care. In addition to the clinical rotations students will select one of 6 Clinical Pathways; each of which will include 8 additional rotations under it. Students are basically picking the area they would like to practice in after graduation. These Clinical Pathways include the following: Small Animal, Equine, General (mixed animals), Exotics, Zoo and Wildlife, and Production Animals (large or herd animals).

After graduating with your DVM or VMD degree you will need to become licensed prior to practicing as a veterinarian. All 50 states and the District of Columbia require licensure. You will need to pass a national board examination; the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Many students will go on to complete a one year residency before setting off to start their own practice. Students may also choose to pursue a specialty in the field like oncology or radiology. They will need to complete a 3-year to 4-year residency with intensive training in the specialty field. There are 39 recognized specialty fields one may pursue.

Specifics of the Vet Tech Degree

There are basically two levels of education to become a veterinary technician: a two year associate's degree to obtain a technicians degree, and a four year bachelor's degree to obtain a technologist's degree. The majority of vet techs have a 2-year degree from an AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) accredited program. 85% of new graduates start their career in a private veterinary practice. Students interested in becoming a technician should take a lot of high school science classes. Acceptance into a program is usually judged by a point system. Applicants will be awarded points for their GPA or GED score and for work/volunteer experience in a relevant field. Bonus points will also be awarded for college course work that has been completed prior to applying. Students completing a 2-year program will have an Associate in Applied Science degree and a student completing a 4-year program will have a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology degree. The curriculum at a two year program may include the following courses: communications, algebra, social/behavioral science, animal anatomy & physiology, animal nutrition, veterinary medical terminology, animal diseases and pharmacology, veterinary surgical nursing, and ethics. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree will continue on to take course like: lab animal management, equine care, dentistry, anesthesia, and emergency and critical care. Graduates will be required to take a credentialing exam like the Veterinary Technician National Exam. There are three designations for technicians: Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT), Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT), and Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT).

There are 9 distance learning/online learning programs accredited by AVMA. These schools offer a variety of learning options with conventional online courses to two way television courses. In this degree program you will need to complete the clinical portion of the program at an approved laboratory or practice.