As September rolls around, many people are headed back to school. In the veterinary field, most of us are no longer in school, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t go to a lot of school to get here, and that certainly doesn’t mean we are ever done learning!
Certified veterinary technicians hold either a two year associate or a four year bachelor’s degree from accredited programs. They partake in an internship at a veterinary clinic as part of their degree program. Once they graduate, they must take a national test called the NVTE (national veterinary technical examination) to become certified. Here in Minnesota, technicians are required to also obtain 10 hours of continuing education every 2 years to remain certified.
Veterinarians face a bit more schooling. Most veterinarians have a bachelor’s degree in a variety of fields including biology, chemistry, and animal science, but they may also have degrees in a variety of other majors including the arts, history, engineering, or business administration. They must meet the prerequisite list of classes for the veterinary program they are applying to, which usually includes a number of years of biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, statistics, and other classes. Once they have completed the prerequisite courses, they must take a standardized test such as the GRE. They can then apply to veterinary schools, which often look for volunteer or job shadow experience from animal related jobs, as well as letters of reference and recommendation from employers and professors.
Veterinary school is a 4-5 year program, with the last year usually being a clinical year. During this clinical year, students take rotations at a working veterinary hospital in areas such as general practice, oncology, radiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, cardiology, surgery, and internal medicine. They also spend time doing externships at practices outside of the school. After all of this is completed, they graduate with a doctorate degree. During this final year of rotations, they must take the national accreditation test, the NAVLE (North American Veterinary Licensing Examination). Once this is passed, many states have their own accreditation test that must be passed. Here in Minnesota, veterinarians must obtain 40 hours of continuing education every 2 years to keep practicing.
As you can see, there is a lot of schooling involved in the health and care of your pet. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a veterinarian or veterinary technician, please contact us to discuss the process more, or to see if we have any job shadowing or internship opportunities available!