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Monday, September 14, 2009

School Interview

As a veterinarian, it's common for me to get questions from children about my job. Often this is for a school project of some sort, as is this set of questions I received today. I know that I've answered similar topics before, but there are a few different ones in Megan's list that I thought would be interesting to address.

Im doing a project for school, and I have to interview a veterinarian,
so if you dont mind, can you answer these following questions.
Describe your job?
Well, I'm a veterinarian. I examine pets, perform diagnostic tests, determine the cause of a disease or injury, recommend and perform treatment (including prescribing medications), and perform surgeries.

How does knowledge of science affect your job?
Very strongly! Medicine is completely grounded in science (or, it should be). Veterinarians have to have extensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, immunology, microbiology, pharmacology, parasitology, and many other "ologies" related to the biological functions of numerous species. We have to understand how the medications we give affect an animal's body, including any side effects. We have to understand how certain combinations of drugs may affect a body. We also have to be able to read and understand current and changing scientific theories and data, as medicine is not a static field and is always changing.

Describe any specific regulations that has a scientific basis?
Many aspects of veterinary laws are related to the science of practice. For example, in every state I have practiced in it has been part of the law that we cannot remove a tracheal tube from an anesthetized patient until they are swallowing. This is because at a deep state of anesthesia part of the trachea could block the opening, suffocating the animal. Once they are swallowing the muscles are able to prevent this from happening. There are also laws that require us to report certain diseases to allow state and federal authorities to track various serious or rare infections.

How do you see technology affecting your job in the nexf 5-10 years?
Ultrasound is becoming much more frequent in general practice, and will continue to do so. New methods of developing vaccines will continue to evolve and expand, leading to safer vaccines of longer duration. There is also some exciting research in using stem cells to aleviate arthritis problems. In just the last 10 years I have seen many changes in using technology, such as digital x-rays, and expect that trend to continue.

What special education or training is required to perform your job?
Veterinary school is the main requirement, and is a four-year doctoral program with intense training in medicine and surgery on virtually all types of animals. Many vets then go into specialty programs to focus on one aspect of medicine, such as surgery, internal medicine, oncology, dermatology, and so on.

What kind of highschool training, post secondary or on the job training have you had or would be helpful?
Experience working for a vet prior to vet school gave me many basic skills, and is a requirement for entry into many vet schools. I started working for a vet when I was 13, and this really helped me learn the profession.

What kind of mathmatic skills are needed for your job?
I was required to take calculus, though I still couldn't tell you why or even what calculus is (despite the fact that I made an A in the course). Basic algebra is used daily, but I rarely need anything more than that.