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What does it take to become a veterinarian?

by Rob Taylor

December 28, 2004 - A love of animals and wanting to take care of them is a good start if you want to be a veterinarian. But being a vet requires a lot more from a person than just good intentions (though those certainly help).

In order to become a veterinarian, students must complete a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree at a post-secondary institution. To obtain this degree, students must attend at least six years of university study, including two years of study in a science program, before moving on to the DVM program.

After completing their schooling, students must be licensed by the provincial government to practice veterinary medicine.

The competition to get into DVM programs is very high and the procedures that students must follow to be admitted to these programs reflects that. The Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) at the University of Prince Edward Island bases admission on the grades the student obtain in their prerequisite undergraduate courses, veterinary experience, an interview and an essay that the students must write.

The Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan has similar application procedures and requirements.

The Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) at the University of Guelph requires that students take the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) as part of its admission requirements. The MCAT is the same test that students are required to take when they apply to many medical schools.

Not all veterinarians work with pets. According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), about 40% of vets practice in companion animal clinics. One third of all work in the agriculture industry, and inspect and treat farm animals, like cattle or horses. Veterinarians also are important in terms of public health where animal diseases and issues can affect the human population, as in the case of rabies.

According to the CVMA, there are about 9,000 veterinarians in Canada.

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