Vets prevent and treat illnesses and injuries in animals. They might specialize in a type of veterinary medicine, such as surgery, and/or a group of animals, such as horses, dogs, or wildlife. Duties include diagnosing patients, prescribing medications, performing surgery, giving vaccinations, and providing health care recommendations to pet owners. Veterinarians may also conduct research in areas such as biomedical sciences. They often work very long hours, and many make themselves available for emergency situations.
Most schools of veterinary medicine require or prefer applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. While many students earn their degree in a biological science, most veterinary schools don’t have a preferred major as long as certain science courses are taken. These courses typically include general biology, chemistry, physics, and math. Some schools may require some more advanced science courses, such as mammalogy, biochemistry, or animal behavior.
Participate in volunteer programs or internships in the veterinary field. Volunteering or interning at veterinary clinics or other animal care facilities can give students an idea of what the job of a veterinarian is really like. Many veterinary programs require some experience working with animals, and volunteering can fulfill this requirement or make a student more competitive when applying. Students can use these experiences to show their dedication to the field of animal care and gain professional references.
Chloe McKnight was 12 when she realized she wanted a career working with the dead. While her classmates planned a future in fashion or banking she spent a fortnight doing work experience at her local undertakers and, on arrival, was confronted with a corpse in the chapel of rest. “I felt strangely comfortable with it,” she says. “It must have been something I’d seen on TV that made me want to do this kind of thing, and since my mother was a nurse I was used to discussions of death at the dinner table.”
Now 25, McKnight is funeral director at Heritage & Sons, part of CPJ Field & Co, in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, and has learned that the job involves challenges other than the daily exposure to mortality. As a slight young blonde she subverts the stereotype of an undertaker. “When I arrive at the scene of a sudden death I get a lot of comments from police about being female,” she says. “When I was applying for jobs as a director I’d be told I’d be more suited as an administrator. You definitely have to be more persistent to break into the profession if you’re a woman.”