A large number of people in this world live with and love animals. The range of species that can be human companions is extensive, and it grows every day. Today, dogs and cats are frequently replaced by snakes, lizards, a variety of rodents, small breed piglets, and other species that have gradually become commonplace in the home. Regardless, cats and dogs are still in the majority when it comes to companionship - mainly because of their innate traits and character that are suited for indoor living. Nevertheless, all animal companions require assistance, treatment, vaccination and other services that are provided by veterinary specialists, trained for medical services on animals.

Veterinary medicine, however, is not limited to pets alone. Many veterinary practitioners work with farm animals and livestock since that is a much more exhaustive line of work. Not only do farm animals require more care, they tend to be concentrated in a single region which means that one veterinarian can tend to several farms and make a decent living.

Although not as illustrious as human medicine, veterinary medicine is by no means an easy subject to master. Most undergraduate and graduate veterinary programs include a host of courses that tackle issues as diverse as parasitology, anatomy, behavioral science, gastroenterology, surgery, preventive care, and more. That being said, veterinary medicine can be daunting at times, because the prospective student has to learn about the anatomy, diseases and treatment of major animal species. This is because cats, dogs, cows, and sheep have decidedly different anatomical structure, and they are affected by different parasites and suffer from different diseases. To be successful, a veterinary practitioner must be able to tackle all of these issues and have a basic understanding of each species’ unique characteristics.

Modern veterinary education is divided into veterinary principal - which is the equivalent of a doctor, and veterinary nursing - which is a supportive role in a veterinary practice. A variety of technicians and office assistants can act in a number of supportive roles. To become an accredited veterinary practitioner, however, and be licensed to open a clinic, a student has to complete a veterinary science degree, which takes five to six years, depending on the location (in the US it is five years, in the UK it is six years and in some other countries it can take up to seven years to complete).

The study of veterinary medicine is complex and requires students to understand the basic concepts in fields as diverse as biology and chemistry. Advanced knowledge is required throughout the course of the education cycle, and in most cases students can expect to attend more classes and spend more time studying than their colleagues enrolled in classes such as business, economy and similar. Other than human medicine, a veterinary medicine degree is likely one of the most demanding and difficult to attain outside of the scope of hard sciences - such as physics, mathematics, engineering and such.

Prospective students have to be aware of the difficulties and challenges that are linked with this career. Before being accepted into a DVM program (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), they need to exhibit excellent GPA scores in high school and have a strong affinity towards biology and chemistry. Furthermore, the last year of education for a DVM consists of clinical practice and internship where the students learn to apply their knowledge in a real-life situation. Before being able to practice, students have to pass the national licensing exam which is managed by the board of the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam.

To help students and prospective veterinarians in their future careers, there is a host of resources -  government and non-government bodies that offer advice, tutoring, internships, scholarships, and a number of other resources. For example, www.avma.org is oriented towards support and management of issues faced with veterinary practitioners across the country and is one of the best sources of information and assistance. The resources available at www.fws.gov offer a wide range of programs and information for veterinary practitioners, be it national job listing, government funded research programs and other opportunities.


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