Animal medicine involves taking care of an animal’s well-being and health. When the term “animal medicine” comes to mind, people immediately think of veterinarian doctors who have private practices – that’s it. They can’t think of any other career opportunities out there for this profession. It’s not that there are limited opportunities for veterinarians. People are just misinformed or lack the necessary information for the whole picture. If you’re planning to undertake this study or if you’re a graduate and you’re wondering where to go, here are some options which might suit you.
As we mentioned, a veterinarian doctor is usually associated with being a private practitioner. They have their own clinics and cater for a wide variety of animals. Private practitioners have the option of working individually or they may be part of teams in a hospital or large clinic. These veterinarians are not limited to only small animals, as they may also take care of larger animals. Private practice is seen as a stepping stone by many veterinarians before they go on to further specialize in their chosen field.
If you’re still not qualified to be a veterinary doctor but it’s your aim, then you can opt for being a veterinary assistant. A veterinary assistant also takes care of animals in clinics, hospitals, and laboratories. However, they work under a veterinary doctor’s supervision and they take a supportive role in this situation. There is also the option of being a veterinary technician. It is closely related to being a veterinary assistant, but a veterinary technician is more geared towards performing laboratory and clinical procedures. To be a veterinary assistant or technician you need an associate degree and pass a licensing exam. Training is usually done on the job.
There is a big demand for capable veterinarians in the research field. Specifically, they are needed in research laboratories, pharmaceutical laboratories, government agencies, and in universities. They have a wide range of responsibilities and are thus broken down into smaller groups such as:
- Laboratory animal veterinarians that take charge of the general health or condition of animals being used in research tests. They oversee the feeding, housing, and breeding of these animals to make sure they are viable test subjects.
- Veterinarians who are in charge of developing and testing vaccines, biological agents, and serums for improved methods in controlling and treating diseases in both humans and animals.
- As molecular biologists, they do basic and advanced research regarding the nature of a disease, health, immunity, and longevity in humans and animals.
A lot of veterinarians choose to teach in colleges and universities. In medical schools, agricultural schools, or in a veterinary school, there will always be a veterinarian in charge of the curriculum. In teaching institutions, veterinarians are in charge of teaching students, conducting research, writing for scientific journals, and developing their school’s education programs.
Veterinarians who choose to specialize in diagnostics are those that have undergone advanced training in microbiology and pathology. Their job is in line with the basic factors in treating diseases which need a definite and correct diagnosis. These veterinarian specialists focus their time and effort on developing equipment that will be able to accurately analyze samples of blood or tissue. They also help refine or develop new techniques to create innovative, accurate, and fast diagnostic services to the animal health and veterinary community.
Diagnostic laboratories can be privately owned or associated with medical learning institutions or veterinary hospitals. For diagnostic laboratories that are connected to medical learning institutions, veterinary specialists are also tasked with research and teaching.
There are a lot of private organizations and business that use the services of veterinarians who are experienced in their field of work. They may be employed on a part-time or full-time basis. These veterinarians are in charge of studying private businesses like dairies, ranches, meat processing facilities and poultry farms. They overview the business’ structure and then they advise how it can be improved or what needs to be changed. Regarding this, they can also work alongside public organizations like animal shelters, government agencies, and humane societies. To be a consultant, you need to develop advanced skills through experience, education, and advanced training over a long period of time.
Public Health Officials
In states and major cities, there are veterinarians who help in controlling animal diseases. As health officials, they are in charge of continuously inspecting meats, milk, and other animal food products to ensure that they are safe for public consumption.
In the field of regulatory medicine, these health officials are tasked with inspecting poultry, meat, dairy products, overseeing the transport of animals across states, and also in testing for diseases related to livestock. Aside from overseeing the transportation of animals across states, they are also in charge of monitoring and inspecting animals from another country. In the event of food-borne disease outbreaks, they do damage control like evaluating the safety of water and food, and also the amount of environment and biological contamination, if any.
Even in agricultural government offices, veterinarians are still employed. Their main tasks include controlling and preventing parasitic and infectious diseases. They are also tasked with assuring safe and accurate labeling food products from animals. In public health services, veterinarians are employed for the administration of programs related to the controlling of diseases which can be transmitted from animals to humans.
In the case of the armed forces, veterinarians are in charge of taking care of government-owned animals like horses, military dogs, and other animals in military service. They can also inspect food, and monitor the health of government and military personnel. They also monitor and control diseases from insects in an exotic location. In line with this, they manage and implement disease vaccination programs. In some cases, they can also perform biomedical research under the military’s branch.
Animal trainers are in charge of training animals for security, riding, performance, assisting people with disabilities or simply for obedience. They usually work in animal clinics or hospitals specializing in animals. These are the veterinarians that take charge of teaching animals about new skills or tricks. Some private owners would employ them when their pets become unruly, while research companies would use the animal trainer’s services to teach animals how to properly assist persons with special diseases or needs (like diabetes or autism). Some animal training jobs require at least a high school diploma, but a bachelor’s degree is still required for most jobs. There are also some programs which give certificates for aspiring animal trainers.
Being a veterinary medicine student or graduate doesn’t mean that you’re only limited to a clinic or hospital. From the options listed above, there are a lot of career opportunities in animal medicine if you know what you want early on. You could then prepare the necessary after-school trainings or certificates to prepare your career. The good thing about veterinary medicine is that you’re flexible and there’s sure to be a career waiting for you depending on your personality or interest.