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How do I become a veterinary doctor? And how long does it take to be one?

Hello, I'm Hannah a 12th Grade student. I'm at a point in my life where I really need to think about what I'll be taking up in college I'm not quite sure if I should be a doctor or a lawyer. I decide to research veterinary medicine after noticing the need for such a profession here in the Philippines and especially here in my town. #student #confused

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John’s Answer

Guidelines for USA - not sure if these are different where you are.

How to Become a Veterinarian:

A veterinary medicine program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components.
Veterinarians must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from an accredited veterinary college, as well as a state license.

Veterinarians must complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM or VMD) degree at an accredited college of veterinary medicine. A veterinary medicine program generally takes 4 years to complete and includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical components.

Admission to veterinary programs is competitive. Most applicants to veterinary school have a bachelor’s degree. Veterinary medical colleges typically require applicants to have taken many science classes, including biology, chemistry, and animal science. Most programs also require math, humanities, and social science courses.

Some veterinary medical colleges prefer candidates to have experience such as previous work with veterinarians in clinics, or working with animals on a farm, at a stable, or in an animal shelter.

In veterinary medicine programs, students take courses on animal anatomy and physiology, as well as disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Most programs include 3 years of classroom, laboratory, and clinical work. Students typically spend the final year of the 4-year program doing clinical rotations in a veterinary medical center or hospital.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Veterinarians must be licensed in order to practice in the United States. Licensing requirements vary by state, but prospective veterinarians in all states must complete an accredited veterinary program and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination.

In addition to passing the national exam, most states require that veterinarians pass a state licensing exam. However, veterinarians employed by state or federal government may not need a state license, because government agencies differ in what they require.

Each state’s exam covers its laws and regulations. Few states accept licenses from other states, so veterinarians usually must take exams for the states in which they want to be licensed.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has an Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) certification program, which allows foreign graduates to fulfill the educational prerequisites for licensure.

Important Qualities
Communication skills. Strong communication skills are essential for veterinarians, who must be able to discuss their recommendations and explain treatment options to animal owners and give instructions to their staff.

Compassion. Veterinarians must be compassionate when working with animals and their owners. They must treat animals with kindness and respect, and they must be sensitive when dealing with the animal owners.

Decision-making skills. Veterinarians must decide the correct method for treating the injuries and illnesses of animals.

Manual dexterity. Veterinarians must control their hand movements and be precise when treating injuries and performing surgery.

Problem-solving skills. Veterinarians need strong problem-solving skills because they must figure out what is ailing animals. Those who test animals to determine the effects of drug therapies also need excellent diagnostic skills.

Most veterinarians work in private clinics and hospitals. Others travel to farms or work in settings such as laboratories, classrooms, or zoos.

Veterinarians who treat horses or food animals travel between their offices and farms and ranches. They work outdoors in all kinds of weather and may have to perform surgery, often in remote locations.

Veterinarians who work in food safety and inspection travel to farms, slaughterhouses, and food-processing plants to inspect the health of animals and to ensure that the facility follows safety protocols.

The work can be emotionally stressful, as veterinarians care for abused animals, euthanize sick ones, and offer support to the animals’ anxious owners. Working on farms and ranches, in slaughterhouses, or with wildlife can also be physically demanding.

Injuries and Illnesses
When working with animals that are frightened or in pain, veterinarians risk being bitten, kicked, and scratched. In addition, veterinarians working with diseased animals risk being infected by the disease.

Work Schedules
Most veterinarians work full time, often working more than 40 hours per week. Some work nights or weekends, and they may have to respond to emergencies outside of scheduled work hours.

Thank you so much for the response almost all of my follow-up questions were answered truly, thank you. Hannah R.

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Lyndsay’s Answer

It takes about 8 years.

Anecdotal: A friend of my mom's found veterinary school to be too difficult so dropped out to transfer to regular medicine. She had a really hard time remembering all the different animal's anatomies. Regular medicine you're just studying humans.

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Myleen’s Answer

From what I know it the Philippines, it takes about 6 years. 2 year general education and 4 years professional veterinary medicine course.
But I would say, take the course that means a lot to you!