What It Really Takes to Become a Veterinarian

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The job description of a veterinarian differs depending on whether the vet is a city vet, private vet, city vet or country vet or whether they work in another function altogether. Sometimes these roles overlap, such as in a small city with an outlying livestock zone. Generally, the veterinarian is established as a person who is in charge of the medical care and treatment of animals. Certainly, they do the kinds of things one might expect: immunize animals against disease, perform routine health inspections, perform surgeries and set broken bones, but they are not just the people who take care of the cats and dogs in the city. According to a description provided by the Career Information Center (Veterinarian, 2005), of the more than 57,000 veterinarians working in the United States, only about one-third treat small pets exclusively. Most of the vets that wish to specialize in small animals opt for private veterinary practice. The rest are reportedly employed by farms, ranches or zoos to work with large animals, with the federal government as meat and livestock inspectors, with pharmaceutical companies to help develop new medicines for animal illnesses and with universities in teaching and research positions.In 2003, the American Veterinary Medical Association (2003), who represents approximately 86 percent of all veterinarians, reported the demographics of veterinarians at that time was 1,784 workings exclusively with large animals. 33,658 exclusively working with small animals. 3,519 working in mixed practices with predominantly large animals. 5,855 working in mixed practices with mostly small animals. 827 workings exclusively with bovines. and 2,529 workings exclusively with equines. These 48,172 veterinarians represented approximately 69 percent of the AVMA’s total membership.