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The Veterinary Profession Essay, Research Paper

When the first man set foot on this earth he longed for companionship. He wanted some one to keep him company, help him hunt and most of all, be a friend. Since that first step, when man domesticated animals, pets have been a growing part of many people?s lives. It is estimated that over seventy-eight percent of Americans have some type of pet, ranging from a common dog to an exotic snake, sharing their home with them (Barns 1). Just like humans, animals get sick and need a special doctor with specialized training and knowledge in animal science. These specialists, known as veterinarians, help give people a better understanding of their animals, as well as caring for them in the event of illness or emergency. Since there are so many different types of animals, there are different sorts of vets, each with diverse duties, making it a complex and dedicated career.

In 1762 in Lyons, France the very first school of veterinary medicine was established (Hopke 584). Through the efforts of a man named Alexandre Liautard, the science of veterinary medicine was developed as a science in the United States, thus starting the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1863 (Hopke 584). As time progressed, many new colleges appeared all over the US. Although they were small and often private, they sparked the minds of many interested in their animal companions. Ever since veterinary medicine made its way here from Europe, it has made enormous strides in reducing the amounts of diseases contracted by humans from both domestic and wild animals.

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A veterinarian?s duties and tasks are quite vast. In a single day, one doctor can treat a dog with a broken toe, a monkey with intestinal problems, and a horse with a case of the blues. Not only do veterinarians care for pets, livestock, wild, sporting and lab animals but they protect humans against disease communicable by animals. Their jobs are extensive: diagnosing medical problems, dressing wounds, performing surgery, prescribing and administering medicines, and vaccinating against diseases (Barns 1). Veterinarians not only need to be good with animals, but also with people as well because they must be able to communicate well with the owner in a way they can understand to find out what the problem with their pet could be.

When most people think of a veterinarian, they think of a doctor that treats their dog or cat when they are sick. But that is only one kind of veterinarian. There is a wide assortment of vets in the field of veterinary medicine. First, there is the common companion vet, whose activities include diagnosing and treating smaller animals like the family pet and also advising the owner on proper care. Many practices offer kennels for boarding pets while their owners are away on vacation. Some vets even offer a grooming area. Of the 56,000 veterinarians in the United States, more than half of them are companion vets (Stockbridge 2). Most companion vets work in private practices, working normal office hours but are often called to emergency house calls at all hours of the night. The usual

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companion vet works about forty-eight to sixty hours a week and sometimes has to work holidays and weekends (Hopke 584)

Large animal veterinarians perform many of the same tasks companion veterinarians do, only on bigger animals such as horses and livestock. Often these doctors have to travel to their patients because the animals are more easily treated in their own environment due to their immense size. The patient may be in a rural area and the veterinarian will have to drive many miles to treat it. Large animal veterinarians often work out of well-equipped mobile clinics, which can be driven to the sick animal?s location (Barns 1). Some large animal veterinarians are employed by larger farms and ranches to work specifically for their business to treat the animals on their grounds (Lidz 144). These locales often have nice, clean facilities and are a lot nicer compared to the harsh conditions a roving vet has to work with.

Often zoos and wildlife refuges hire extremely skilled specialists to work on their staff and care for a wide assortment of exotic animals (Hopke 584). These veterinarians need to be able to work with a wide assortment of animals and perform a wide variety of jobs such as directing diets and vitamin supplements as well as basic health care (Hopke 584).

There are many types of veterinarians other than those working directly with live animals. State and federal governments employ a large number of veterinarians as meat and livestock inspectors (Lidz 144). They visit slaughtering

Gruenewald 3 houses and processing plants to see if the facilities are up to the government standards of optimum cleanliness. Government vets also have to check the carcasses and animals for disease as well as enforce federal purity and sanitation regulations (Barns 1). These vets work under grotesque conditions and cannot have a weak stomach, for they have to work with bloody carcasses and rotten meat.

There are wide assortment of research vets who carry out a huge assortment of jobs, mostly concerning disease in animals and humans. Veterinary anatomists examine the physical composition of animals through an assortment of microscopes (Hopke 585). Vet bacteriologists deal with the bacteria and microorganisms that cause disease in animals (Hopke 586). A veterinary epidemiologist investigates the spread of communicable diseases of animals to humans while parasitologists research methods to control and prevent parasites that attack animals (Stockbridge 2). Veterinary pathologists and physiologists work together to study the cause and development of animal diseases and the effects of those diseases, all while looking over what is different about the organs in both the diseased and healthy animals (Hopke 585). And the final forms of research veterinarians deal with pharmaceuticals. Pharmacologists specialize in creating drugs to treat disease animals. They also work for pharmaceutical companies developing drugs and vaccines for animals and space programs (Hopke 586).

Gruenewald 4There are also veterinarians who are not only certified in the veterinary field but also in the teaching field as well. They teach students veterinary medicine in colleges and universities (Lidz 144). These teaching veterinarians need extensive schooling in both veterinary medicine and education along with experience being a practicing veterinarian as well.

All States require that all veterinarians be licensed. To obtain a license, applicants must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or D.M.V. from one of the twenty-seven accredited colleges of veterinary medicine and pass a state board exam (Lidz 144). Before being admitted to a vet school, students must take at least three years of undergraduate school. Competition for entry is stiff; five out of every ten qualified applicants actually make it into the school while ninety percent attain degrees (Stockbridge 2). Biology and chemistry related fields are important, for both are the basis of medicine of any sort (Evers 1).

Since a veterinarian is a form of doctor, their income is well above average. The starting salary of veterinary college graduates is $31,800 in 1991 and is growing at a steady rate annually (Hopke 586). Government vets make approximately $50,400 a year, with full government benefits such as Medicare and pension (Barns 3). The salary of any veterinarian usually depends on the location of the practice, the type of veterinarian and the number of years they have been in practice. An experienced veterinarian with about ten years experience receives around $72,500 a year, which is quite an increase from the starting pay (Barns 3).

Gruenewald 5 There are over 65,000 veterinarians in practice today and about 20,000 of those are women (Stockbridge 1). This proves that minorities have a strong chance for advancement in the veterinary field. Demand is on the rise for food inspection vets, particularly in meat and poultry, as well as toxicology, laboratory medicine, and pathology (Barns 3). Advancement in all areas of veterinary medicine is quite good, especially for those vets who prove they work well with the patient?s owners as well as the animals themselves. This is also known as good bedside manner and is necessary to hold a good reputation in the community and to obtain clients (Evers 1).

?Acquiring a career in veterinary medicine takes time and patience.? said Dr. Dan Evers, a veterinarian practicing in companion veterinary medicine for over 15 years. First, the aspiring veterinarian must become associated with the community by joining a well-known practice. This can be done by contacting local veterinarians and inquiring about job opportunities. The veterinary school?s placement office can also help, and looking through advertisements in the newspaper can be a good start (Lidz 144).

The veterinary profession has come a long way since it was first introduced. Without it, many diseases would have crossed the borders and caused many humans to become infected and possibly die, all from something that could have been prevented. ?Modern veterinary medicine has been placed on the same basis as human medicine because of all the advancements, knowledge and skill

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within.? said Dr. Evers. For those who own pets, veterinary medicine has not only been a wonderful commodity, but a chance to have a healthy, boisterous companion. ?Being a vet takes years of hard work, schooling, and practice, but it?s all well worth it!? Dr. Evers exclaimed. High school students interested in the profession should focus on their studies as well as their strong love for animals because without that bond, veterinarians would not be able to communicate to and help their very special patients.

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