How can I specialize as a veterinarian?
I am a high school senior who has always wanted to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, and I have been doing thorough research on the various aspects of the occupation. I am very interested in veterinary dentistry or surgery, and I would really like to specialize in these areas. Is there more schooling that I have to attend in addition to vet school to get certifications?
#veterinary #veterinary-medicine #veterinarian #animal-health
Congratulations on being interested in becoming a vet. It takes a special person to enter this field and meet the demands which this career area presents. The first step is to get to know yourself to see if you share the personality traits which make vets successful. The next step is doing networking to meet and talk to and possibly shadow vets to see if this is something that you really want to do, as a career area could look much different on the inside than it looks from the outside.
Ken recommends the following next steps:
Specializing as a veterinarian does take additional years of training. Obviously, you have to get accepted to and make it through veterinary school. This often requires a Bachelor's degree, completing the prerequisites for the specific vet school you would like to attend, getting experience in the field (like volunteering at a veterinary office, shelter, zoo or wildlife rehab) and getting good scores on your GREs.
Once you are in vet school you and as you complete your general veterinary education, you can start networking and getting acquainted with the specialties you are interested in and the doctors at your school and other institutions that also practice that discipline. Ways to do this are to: 1) talk to your clinical faculty or professors in the specialty, 2) participate in research for that specialty, 3) do an externship at a hospital that has a strong program with that specialty, 4) attend the annual meeting/conference for that discipline.
Once you have made it through vet school, to specialize you will need to complete a 1 year internship (called a rotating internship) and a 3-4 year residency in the discipline you're interested in. Some specialties are so competitive many candidates end up also doing a specialty internship in the discipline they are interested in prior to the residency. During you internship year you are a fully licensed veterinarian but you are practicing under the guidance and supervision of other veterinarians and specialists. During your rotating internship, you would rotate through the different specialties (i.e. internal medicine, surgery, emergency, cardiology). It is during this time, as well as in school, you would need to continue to network with specialist in the fields you are interested. Getting good letters of recommendation from specialists you work with will help you land a residency.
Here are some websites that may be helpful in finding more info and making connections with the specialties your interested in:
Tania recommends the following next steps:
Veterinary medicine is a very difficult and competitive field which requires a lot of dedication and time. Getting accepted into a AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) accredited veterinary school is only the beggining. For a surgical residency or any residency, top grades must be maintained. After graduating from Grad school, you will have the option of applying to an internship or residency program through a match system online. Most residents in surgery will do 1-2 years of rotating internal medicine/surgery internship or a strict surgical internship before applying for residency. Residencies generally last 3-4 years. Best wishes in your journey and never give up.