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Friday, February 12, 2010

Variety In Veterinary Medicine

One of the things that amazes me the most about being in veterinary medicine is the wide variety of things you can do with the degree.  I think when most people think about being a vet they think about the typical small-animal doctor that they take their dog or cat to.  Some may think about large animal vets who work on their horses or livestock.  And truthfully, the majority of vets fall into one of these two categories.  However, veterinary medicine is far from limited to this practice.  Here are some examples:

Specialty Practice--It's possible to be specialized in one area of veterinary medicine, similar to the divisions in humans.  Certifications include dermatology, dentistry, ophthalmology, internal medicine, neurology, surgery, behavior, avian medicine, lab animal medicine, and general practice.  Some of these vets teach in colleges, but many work in private specialty practices.

Research--Someone has to make new discoveries and medications.  Anything we discover and learn has to come from researchers. 

Lab Animal--Animals are used extensively in researching medicines and procedures for humans and animals.  Veterinarians are required to maintain these laboratory animals, as well as perform surgery on them.

Zoo medicine--One of the most difficult areas of veterinary medicine is working for zoos.  Many of the species kept in zoos are rare and much may not be understood about their nutrition and physiology.  Zoos could not be maintained without highly skilled vets.

Military--Vets are needed to maintain the dogs and horses used in the military, as well as inspect meat and food supplies.

Politics--Yes, vets are involved in politics!  There are a few US congressmen who are veterinarians, and the governor of the state of Georgia is a vet.  Besides elected office, vets are needed on regulatory boards to help develop legislation for the care of animals and the practice of veterinary medicine.

Public Health--Many diseases such as rabies, swine flu, avian flu, and mad cow disease are best known by vets.  Veterinarians understand the physiology of animals and how diseases are transmitted from them to people.  Vets help to track disease patterns and warn the public of any health risks.

Food Safety--It may not be a glamorous aspect of veterinary medicine, but a very important one is food inspection.  Vets are employed by the government to make sure the food we get from animals is safe and healthy.

And you know, I'm probably leaving something out.  But you get the idea.  If anyone chooses to make their career as a veterinarian, there is virtually unlimited potential to pursue whatever kind of job they want.  Good luck to all of the future vets out there!