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What is Veterinary Medicine?
the branch of science that deals with the prevention, diagnosis
and treatment of disease, disorder and injury in non-human
The scope of veterinary medicine is wide, covering all animal
species, both domesticated
with a wide range of conditions which can affect different
Veterinary medicine is widely practiced, both with and without
professional supervision. Professional care is most often led by
a veterinary physician(also
known as a vet, veterinary surgeon or veterinarian), but also by
paraveterinary workers such as
veterinary nurses or technicians. This can be augmented by other
paraprofessionals with specific specialties such as animal
physiotherapy or dentistry.
physician, called avet orveterinary
surgeon is a professional who treats disease, disorder and
injury in non-human animals.
In many countries, the local nomenclature for a vet is a
regulated and protected term, meaning that members of the public
without the prerequisite qualifications and/or registration are
not able to use the title. In many cases, the activities that
may be undertaken by a veterinarian (such as animal treatment or
surgery) are restricted only to those professionals who are
registered as vet.
Most vets work in clinical settings, treating animals directly.
These vets may be involved in a general practice, treating
animals of all types; may be specialized in a specific group of
animals such as companion animals, livestock, zoo animals or
horses; or may specialize in a narrow medical discipline as
surgery, dermatology or internal medicine. As with healthcare
professionals, vets face ethical decisions about the care of
Education and Training of Veterinarians
In order to practice, veterinarians must obtain a degree in
veterinary medicine, followed by gaining a license to practice.
Previously, veterinary degrees were available as a bachelor's
degree, but now all courses result in the award of a
are therefore awarded a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or
Veterinary Medical Doctor (VMD) degree.
There is a high level of competition for admission to veterinary
schools; there are currently only twenty eight veterinary
schools in the
United States which meet the accreditation standards set by the
Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical
and five in Canada.
Following qualification from the doctoral degree, the
prospective veterinarian must receive a passing grade on the
North America Veterinary Licensing Exam.This
exam is completed over the course of eight hours, and consists
of 360 multiple-choice questions. This exam covers all aspects
of veterinary medicine, as well as visual material designed to
test diagnostic skills.
Veterinary technicians are the primary
veterinary workers in the US
and assist the veterinarian in the role of a nurse providing trained support. The
requirements for technicians vary by state, but in most cases,
technicians are graduates of two or four year college-level
programs and are legally qualified to assist veterinarians in
many medical procedures.
Some states choose to license technicians, so that only people
with appropriate qualifications are able to fulfill the role,
but this is not the case in all jurisdictions.
Education and Credentialing
To become a credentialed veterinary technician, one must
complete a two-year or three-year AVMA credentialed degree,
most of which result in the awarding of an associate of applied
science degree in veterinary technology (those completing a
four-year AVMA accredited school gain a bachelor's degree are
considered veterinary technologists though the distinction is
rarely made with the term technician being used generally.
The education a credentialed technician receives is in-depth and
crucial for medical understanding and to give proper health
care. The American
Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
is responsible for
accrediting schools with
either Associates Degree or
Bachelor's degree, though in some states or provinces this is not
necessary. The AVMA also accredits schools that offer distance
education. As a requirement of AVMA-accreditation, all
distance learning programs require a significant amount of
practical clinical experience before the student will be allowed
Non-credentialed personnel who perform similar tasks to
veterinary technicians are usually referred to as veterinary
assistants though the term technician is often applied
generously. In many states, a veterinary assistant cannot
legally perform as many procedures as a technician. Veterinary
assistants often have no formal education related to veterinary
medicine or veterinary technology, however, NAVTA recently
approved the designation of Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA)
for those successfully completing approved educational programs.
In larger facilities with tiered hierarchies veterinary
assistants typically assist veterinary technicians in their
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