Learn the basics of veterinary medicine. How many veterinarians are there? What a small animal practitioner do?
Sir Winston Churchill once wrote, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” As an equine or horse veterinarian, you will definitely spend a good part of your time around the outside of a horse. The question you should be asking is, “What will I do?”
After I graduated from veterinary school, I was amazed at how the skills I developed as a waiter helped me through my first months of practice. From those summer jobs in restaurants, I knew how to create an atmosphere that made my clients feel comfortable. When clients gave me their pet’s history, I used the skills I had developed taking orders to clarify and confirm their comments. I also immediately worked to build the trust of my hospital team by working in the same genuine and authentic manner that gave me success as a waiter. My summers as a waiter had given me communication and relationship skills that made me a good veterinary practitioner.
If this practice environment sounds calm and organized, it isn’t always. The excitement of practicing small animal veterinary medicine comes from the spontaneous situations that arise. In a busy practice, you will have the occasional emergency case, concerned clients calling in to check on their hospitalized pet, surgical patients needing to be discharged, IV tubes coming out, monitoring and treating of hospitalized pets, etc., etc., etc.
A veterinary specialist is a veterinarian who has received advanced training in a specific area of medicine. After graduating from veterinary school, she enrolled as an “intern” and/or “resident” at a university in order to receive additional training and experience in a specific area of veterinary medicine. After completing this program, she then passed an examination process given by the specialty board to become a “board-certified” veterinary specialist.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recognizes 20 different veterinary specialties today.1 There are veterinary specialties in surgery, dermatology (skin specialists), cardiology (heart specialists), oncology (cancer specialists), ophthalmology (eye specialists), dentistry, zoological medicine, and 14 other areas. In fact, on April 2008, the AVMA granted provisional recognition to the newest specialty of “Exotic Companion Mammals.”2 These veterinarians specialize in “pocket pets” such as rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, mice, and other small mammals.
There has never been a better time for you or someone you love to explore veterinary medicine as a career! Veterinary medicine is consistently voted one of the most respected and trusted health care professions. According to the 2006 Gallup survey (the last survey to include veterinarians on the questionnaire), 71% of Americans described veterinarians’ ethics as “very high” or “high.”1 This made veterinarians one of the three most trusted professions in the country! Veterinarians are continuously earning their clients’ trust as the popularity and importance of the family pet increases.
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