Veterinarians diagnose and provide remedies for animal health problems. In most cases, they treat injuries and illnesses of family pets and other animals by utilizing a wide variety of techniques, including state-of-the-art ultrasound technology, acupuncture, homeopathy and chiropractic care. In an effort to prolong a suffering animal’s life, many of these doctors will perform a number of surgical procedures, such as kidney transplants and treatments to combat cancer. Today, veterinary services are similar to the methods of care a physician would deliver to another human in need.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of practitioners that diagnose and treat animals will grow considerably in the coming years, as more pet owners take their animals to clinics and hospitals to receive vaccinations and check-ups. The government also reports that more veterinarians are being needed to inspect food supplies, handle disease control, investigate animal safety and help maintain public health policies.

In Los Angeles, licensed veterinarians earn an average annual salary greater than $81,000, according to current data. It is a rewarding vocation that requires a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. By the time they have been accepted by a veterinary medical college, students have already taken courses in biology, microbiology, chemistry, zoology, anatomy, animal science, math, humanities and other science and social science studies.

Admission to a reputable veterinary program is quite competitive. Determining factors weigh heavily on experience in the field. Those that receive serious consideration are the ones that have interned with veterinarians or research scientists in a clinical or agribusiness environment. Working with animals at a shelter or on a farm may also open a door. Once accepted, students will study animal anatomy and physiology in addition to disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. To help new veterinarians learn how to run a practice, comprehensive coursework in business management and career development are also offered.

The American Veterinary Medical Association provides certification in 40 specialties including surgery and internal medicine. Although certification is not required for veterinarians, it is an impressive way for veterinary physicians to showcase their learned skill-sets and expertise in particular areas.

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

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