Career Development

What Does a Veterinarian Do?

Find out what a veterinarian does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a veterinarian.

Veterinarians are medical professionals who work with animals. They provide routine checkups, vaccinations and other preventative care to keep pets healthy. They may also treat sick or injured animals by performing surgery or prescribing medications.

Veterinarians must complete a four-year undergraduate degree program before they can enter into veterinary school. This is where they learn about animal biology, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, behavior, etc.

Veterinarian Job Duties

Veterinarians have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Inspecting, treating, and caring for animals to ensure their health and well-being
  • Performing surgery on animals to repair injuries or to remove growths or other abnormalities
  • Providing advice on the treatment of pets’ behavioral problems, such as excessive barking or scratching at fleas, in conjunction with the pet owner or breeder
  • Diagnosing diseases and infections in animals and prescribing treatment as needed
  • Conducting research on animal diseases and improving methods of disease prevention and treatment
  • Counseling owners on topics such as pet nutrition, home safety, and animal behavior
  • Evaluating new drugs or vaccines before they are used on animals
  • Teaching continuing education classes for veterinarians and other animal health professionals about new developments in the field
  • Conducting examinations and ordering lab tests to diagnose disease in animals

Veterinarian Salary & Outlook

Veterinarians’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of work they do. Some veterinarians own their own practice, while others work for an established veterinarian or a company that manufactures animal products.

  • Median Annual Salary: $105,000 ($50.48/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $163,000 ($78.37/hour)

The employment of veterinarians is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

The need to treat pets and other companion animals will drive employment growth. As pet owners age, they are more likely to want veterinary care for their pets. In addition, as people have more pets, there will be a greater demand for veterinary services.

Related: In-Depth Veterinarian Salary Guide

Veterinarian Job Requirements

A veterinarian typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Veterinarians need to complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program. These programs take four years to complete and are offered by colleges and universities.

DVM programs include classroom and laboratory instruction in a variety of topics, including animal anatomy, animal behavior, animal nutrition, animal reproduction, ethics, medical terminology, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, physiology and radiology.

Training & Experience: After graduating from a veterinary school, a doctor of veterinary medicine must complete a one-year internship. During this time, they work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to gain practical experience in treating animals.

Certifications & Licenses: All states require licensure, and each has different requirements for obtaining a license. You can check your state’s requirements by visiting the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges website.

Veterinarian Skills

Veterinarians need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Veterinary medicine is a team effort, and communication is an important skill for veterinarians to have. They often work with other veterinarians, pet owners and pet caretakers to diagnose and treat pet health issues. They also communicate with pet owners about pet care and treatment plans.

Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Veterinarians use empathy to comfort pet owners when their animal is sick or injured. They also use empathy to explain treatment options and procedures to pet owners.

Organization: Veterinarians often use organizational skills to keep track of patient files, medical histories, test results and other information about the animals they treat. They also use organizational skills to keep their treatment areas and examination rooms organized. This helps them find the supplies they need quickly and ensures they don’t mix up treatment records.

Problem-solving: Veterinarians use their problem-solving skills to identify and treat animal health issues. They also use these skills to identify and treat animal injuries and illnesses. For example, a veterinarian might use their problem-solving skills to determine the best treatment for an animal with a broken leg. They might also use their problem-solving skills to identify the cause of an animal’s illness and develop a treatment plan to help the animal recover.

Scientific knowledge: Veterinarians need to understand scientific concepts to make informed decisions about patient care. They may need to understand the effects of medications, the effects of diseases and the effects of treatments. They may also need to understand the anatomy of different animals and how to treat them.

Veterinarian Work Environment

Veterinarians work in a variety of settings, including private clinics, hospitals, zoos, and research laboratories. They may also work for the government or in the armed forces. Most veterinarians work full time, and many work more than 40 hours per week. They may work evenings and weekends to accommodate the schedules of their clients and patients. Some veterinarians work in settings that expose them to hazardous materials, such as x-ray machines and chemicals. They must take precautions to avoid exposure to these materials and must follow safety guidelines.

Veterinarian Trends

Here are three trends influencing how veterinarians work. Veterinarians will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Focus on Preventative Care

Preventative care is becoming increasingly important as pet owners become more aware of the benefits it can provide. This trend is leading to a greater focus on preventive care among veterinarians, who are now offering services such as vaccinations, dental care, and nutrition counseling.

As preventative care becomes more popular, veterinarians will need to be able to provide these services in order to stay competitive. They will also need to be able to educate pet owners about the benefits of preventive care and how it can help keep their pets healthy.

The Use of Technology in Veterinary Medicine

The use of technology in veterinary medicine is becoming increasingly common as vets look for ways to improve patient care and reduce costs.

One area where technology is having a major impact is in diagnostics. With the advent of cheaper and faster testing methods, vets are now able to diagnose diseases and conditions much quicker than before. This allows them to start treatment sooner, which can often make the difference between life and death for patients.

In addition, technology is being used to improve communication between vets and their clients. This includes using video chat to discuss treatment plans and updates, as well as using social media to share information with clients.

How to Become a Veterinarian

A career as a veterinarian is rewarding in many ways. You’ll be able to help animals, work with a team of professionals, and use your knowledge and skills to make a difference in the lives of animals and their owners.

To become a veterinarian, you’ll need a degree in veterinary medicine (DVM). This requires four years of study after graduating from college. During this time, you’ll learn about the biology, chemistry, and physics of living things; how diseases affect animals; and how to treat them. You’ll also learn about animal behavior and nutrition.

Related: How to Write a Veterinarian Resume

Advancement Prospects

The most common way to advance in this career is to move into a management or leadership position. For example, a veterinarian might become a practice manager, a hospital administrator, or a research director. Some veterinarians also move into teaching or become consultants.

To move into management, a veterinarian usually needs several years of experience and a demonstrated ability to lead and motivate people. He or she also needs to be familiar with business principles and practices. Many veterinarians get a master’s degree in business administration or a related field to prepare for a management position.

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