Many experts recommend that for anyone who wants to become a veterinarian that they should build up lots of practical experience by volunteering. To increase your chances of being accepted into an accredited college for veterinary medicine they recommend that you have as many as six years of volunteer experience. To become a veterinarian you need to realize that you may need as many as twelve years of college. You should start in high school taking all the math and science classes available. After two years of secondary education there is another four years earning a bachelor’s degree in science, biology, or math, and finally another four to six years at a veterinarian school. If you decide to specialize that will be another three to four years in a residency program. To keep your veterinarian’s license valid and current will require continuing education and additional exams.
There are some secondary schools that will require you to have a particular number of community service hours per year in order to graduate. You can volunteer with a local veterinarian, a humane shelter, or a veterinarian hospital. Some even volunteer to work in a zoo, and if you have a chance to work with exotic animals it could increase your chance of veterinary college acceptance. One thing that you should not do is get stuck into one specialty. You should try out as many different veterinarian volunteer jobs as you can. You can even volunteer at a horse farm if you think you might want to become an equine veterinarian.
When applying for veterinarian school most will enter with a bachelor’s degree. Make sure your coursework focuses heavily on physical and biological sciences like microbiology, genetics, and chemistry. One thing to note is being admitted to veterinary school can be very competitive. The reason is that in the United States there are only thirty veterinary schools that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Council on Education. You should start to apply to veterinary school in the fall of your senior year of getting your bachelor’s degree.
Admission requirements will be different for each school but all applicants will have to take a college admissions test like the Graduate Record Examination. Most veterinary schools will require you to use the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS) to apply. They accept your application and letters of evaluation and will distribute to each school that you choose. You should also submit your transcripts to the VMCAS. Make sure that you are keeping a high GPA and have at least three letters of recommendation. One is required from an academic advisor, one required from an individual of your choice, and one required from a veterinarian. You should also have good communication and leadership skills.
Once you have gained admittance you will have to finish four years of schooling in order to get your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M) degree. The first couple of years of schooling will normally concentrate on basic science classes in the laboratory and classroom. The last couple of years will consist of instruction in a clinical setting so you can expand your hands-on experience treating and diagnosing animal medical conditions and diseases under a licensed veterinarian’s supervision. When you become a fourth-year student you will usually concentrate entirely doing clinical rotations in private practices and animal hospitals. To get your degree you will have to take the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE). The exam will take at least nine hours to complete and has three hundred sixty questions that are multiple choice. Many states will require you to pass an exam that covers veterinary regulations and laws.
Except for some federal and state government employees, all veterinarians are required to obtain licensure from their state’s licensing board. The requirements to acquire a license will vary from state to state but all boards will require that you hold a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.
If you decide to specialize in a particular area of veterinary medicine you have to get your certification from the AVMA American Board of Veterinary Specialties. They recognize forty specialties like surgery, pathology, internal medicine, and dentistry. In order to be eligible for certification you will have to complete three to four years of training in that specialty by enrolling in and completing an approved residency program.