Veterinarian Courses

Prior to applying for veterinary schools you will need to complete a bachelor's degree or the equivalent number of college courses. You will need to complete the VMCAS (Veterinary Medical Colleges Applications Services) application for the majority of veterinary schools in the United States.

There are only 28 veterinary schools in the U.S., and only one out of three applicants will be accepted into a veterinary program. So, if you are fortunate enough to be accepted into a school the following information will give you an idea of what to expect for the next 4 years.

Students will be provided with a foundation of core knowledge and skills in veterinary medicine. As a student progresses they will choose a clinical track or pathway in a selected area of veterinary practice such as: small animals, production animals (large animals), general or mixed animals, exotics, equine, or zoo and wildlife. In the last two years the focus of the curriculum will be a mixture of core classes and electives that are pertinent to the chosen clinical track.

Foundation Courses for Veterinarians

Your freshman year will include freshman doctoring. This is an introduction to both the science and the art of the practice of veterinary medicine utilizing evidence-based information, research, and practical experience. This course will provide a foundation of skills that will be used during the course of the veterinary educational program. Other core classes might include canine anatomy, biology, physiological chemistry, principles of behavior, cell and tissue structure and function, vet ethics and law, and clinical rounds that will include discussions at a teaching hospital.

Your second year will include sophomore doctoring and courses such as vet bacteriology and mycology, infectious diseases, virology, systemic pathology, anatomy, human-animal interactions in vet science, vet pharmacology, and animal reproduction. You will continue clinical rounds as well.

Advanced Courses in Vet School

Students entering their third year will select their clinical track or pathway, so your curriculum will include electives pertaining to your individual track. Students unsure of their clinical track will have the opportunity to explore diverse species-oriented course electives to help in their decision. Junior doctoring and clinical rounds will become more hands on in the third year and core classes you may expect to take include: principles and technics of operative and anesthesia, vet ophthalmology, vet neurology, vet orthopedics, herd animals, shelter medicine and dentistry.

Your senior doctoring class will usually include externships with practicing veterinarians outside of the school. Clinical rounds the senior year will incorporate making and applying medical judgments on an individual or herd basis. Most of the time will be spent in the teaching hospital or externship. You may also be required to take core classes in cardiology or other similar classes. Externships provide an environment for students to integrate knowledge and reason and to develop the diagnostic and therapeutic skills necessary for clinical practice.

So in summary veterinary students must complete a specific number of rotations or core courses in veterinary medicine. In their third year most veterinary students will pick a clinical track or rotation (area of interest).

Graduates with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree may begin to practice once they have obtained licensure, but many new graduates choose to do a one year internship. An intern will receive a small salary, but the main goal is to gain experience that may lead to better paying opportunities. Veterinarians may also pursue training in one of the AVMA-recognized veterinary specialties such as oncology, dentistry, dermatology, neurology or anesthesiology. There are 39 specialties that are approved by the AVMA and veterinarians will need to complete a 3-year residency to gain board certification in a specialty.