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To Vet or Not to Vet?

March 28, 2018

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According to Google, “a veterinarian is a medical professional who protects the health and well-being of both animals and people. They diagnose and control animal diseases and treat sick and injured animals. They also advise owners on proper care of their pets and livestock.”

Many people who grow up loving animals and wanting to take care of them end up wanting to be a veterinarian, but few of them know how much work is required to make this happen. In order to become a veterinarian, a student must spend up to nine years in school beyond high school before they can start their job.

Next, they must spend three to five years with a pre-vet major to get their Bachelor’s degree, then go into a four-year veterinary program to get their DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine). It is extremely hard to get into vet school. To even be considered, you have to take a test to see how much you know from taking pre vet courses. Getting into vet school is even harder than getting into med school because they are basically required to put in more effort and dedicate more time than medical students are.

The first example of vet students putting in more work is that they are required to have more semester hours than med students are. Veterinary school requires 45-90 whereas med school only makes the student take 40-60 hours per semester.

Another way that vet school is harder is because vet students have to take general biology, genetics, cell biology, microbiology, calculus, organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, biochemistry, and a mix of basic humanities courses just like med students have to, but in addition to those courses they have to take animal biology, animal nutrition, food animal science, vertebrate embryology, zoology, and physiology.

Those are only two of many reasons that some feel that getting into vet school is more challenging than getting into med school. To see more, go to

In Virginia, the most well-known pre-vet colleges are Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and Radford University. Virginia Tech also has a vet school, along with UVA (University of Virginia) and Lynchburg College. UVA and Lynchburg College ironically have veterinary programs but not pre-vet majors.

After completing vet school, the student must take a test that is different in each state. If they pass it, they have their Veterinary License for that state and can get a job as a vet. This job will usually have a starting salary of around $52,470 per year and can go up to around $161,070 per year, although the average yearly salary for a veterinarian is about $88,770.

Being a vet comes with a lot of responsibility. Veterinarians diagnose illnesses, perform medical procedures, set and dress fractures, treat and dress wounds, vaccinate against illnesses, and do many other tasks. They also have the role of consoling an animal’s distraught owners. Most of the time, vets are on call 24/7 in case of emergencies, which means schedules can include evenings, weekends, and holidays along with normal weekday hours.

In conclusion, being a veterinarian is not easy work. You have to work with injured animals who may bite or kick out of pain or fear, along with their distressed owners who may be rude because of how worried they are about their pet. But, if you care about animals and have enough compassion to work through possible problems just to help them, then this is the job for you.

In the future, an increase in the need for veterinarians is estimated, especially ones who specialize in livestock. If you don’t want to go to vet school but still want to work with animals, another career that a lot of people go into is becoming a vet tech (Veterinary Technician). This only requires two years of school after high school, although most people go for four. The salary is quite a bit less (averaging at about $31,570 per year), but it is still a way for you to work closely with animals and help them without going through quite as much schooling.

Overall, there is a lot of work to become a veterinarian, but the vets who have put in the effort and work to have this career have found it very rewarding and they do not regret it.

About the Writer
Lauren Kirby, Fluco Beat Editor

Lauren is a Senior and is the editor of the Fluco Beat along with being a member of the BETA Club. She worked with the previous Editor on the site and...

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