What Does It Take to Become a Vet?

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Vet

Veterinarians take care of our pets and animals. They’re in charge of ensuring animals in zoos, farms, parks, and other places are healthy and safe. 

If you want to be a vet, do you know what it takes to become one? Here’s what you have to go through. 

Degrees and Licenses 

To become a vet, you must have the proper degrees and licenses. Follow these steps: 

  1. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step is to earn a degree in biological science, which will prepare you for entering a veterinary school. 

Veterinary schools don’t often have preferred majors. You just need to make sure you take certain science courses like: 

  • General Biology 
  • Chemistry
  • Physics 
  • Math
  • Mammalogy
  • Animal Behavior
  • Biochemistry 

The last three are among the more advanced science courses you might want to consider. 

2. Complete a four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program 

After earning your bachelor’s degree, you must complete a DVM program.

The doctorate curriculum must include: 

  • Animal anatomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physiology 
  • Virology
  • Nutrition
  • Zoology 

The first couple of years will focus on science subjects. 

Then, you will take clinical studies where you’ll handle living animals and practice using your knowledge. You will also make diagnoses and recommend treatments.

3. Get a License 

The third step is to get licensed, which means taking and passing a seven-hour licensing exam given by the state where you plan to practice.

The National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners prepare the exam, but there could be additional state-specific exams to take. Be prepared. 

4. Start Practicing and Gain Experience 

You can now start practicing. Aim to gain experience and training. If you can, earn some certifications. 

You can get certified in one or more of the various vet specialties, including: 

  • Behavior
  • Dentistry
  • Anesthesia 
  • Emergency and Critical Care
  • Nutrition
  • Oncology
  • Radiology
  • Surgery 

And many others. 

The Five Top Qualities of a Good Vet 

But even when you’re practicing and fully certified, you need to learn important skills and qualities a good vet should have. 

1. Compassion 

Most of the time, you’ll deal with pet owners who are attached emotionally to their pets. They will expect you to give the same or greater amount of care they give to their pets. 

You must treat the animals — your patients — with kindness and respect. 

2. Strong Communication Skills

Strong communication skills are essential. You will discuss certain recommendations and treatment options for your clients, and you must ensure the instructions you give are clear.

3. Strong Decision-Making Skills 

Being a vet also means you face difficulties or tricky situations where you need to make decisions, sometimes on the fly, when treating the animals’ illnesses. 

4. Strong Problem-Solving Skills

Apart from decision-making skills, strong problem-solving skills are also a necessity. 

Animals can’t talk like humans, and you’ll face tough choices when it comes to making diagnoses and recommending treatments.

5. Dexterity 

When treating animals with injury or certain illnesses, you sometimes need to perform critical surgeries. 

A shaky hand or poor hand-and-eye coordination will certainly not help. Manual dexterity is a necessity when you’re a vet. 

Becoming a Veterinarian

Becoming a vet — a good one — is no easy job. And even when you’ve established yourself, you will face new and tougher challenges on the job. 

So, becoming a vet doesn’t stop when you’re treating animals. It continues. 

One good way to complement this continuing experience is to join professional associations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association.  

Such groups offer insights and information that aim to improve veterinary life and services. They also connect you with peers and other popular people among vet circles. 

About the Author: Lucie is a qualified vet nurse and blogger at kittycattree.com. Read more about Lucie here

 

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