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Become an Equine Veterinarian

Majors Overview November 21, 2012

Equine veterinarians are veterinarians who specialize in providing medical care for horses. Such care includes medical examination, testing and periodic operation on the animals. To become an equine veterinarian you need a minimum qualification of an undergraduate education supplemented by veterinary school aimed at qualification in Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.), including additional training in the form of internship programs. Specialized skill in equine medicine (e.g. surgery) requires post-graduate studies in residency programs.

In order to practice as an equine veterinarian for both bachelor and doctoral degree holders, you need licensure in all states and the District of Columbia; bachelor degree holders need additional certification issued by the American Veterinary Medical Association. While the experience they gain in residency programs or internships will count, they need some key skills in the form of problem-solving, management, communication, and decision-making and above all, a compassionate attitude. Manual dexterity will help considering they are going to work with horses. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

There is a good market for equine veterinarians. In this article, I’ll take a look at the stage-wise requirements you’ll need to satisfy in order to become an equine veterinarian:

Secondary School Stage

If you wish to pursue a career path as an equine veterinarian, you have to start your preparations at middle school level. If you have a good grasp of science, you are considered an asset in your educational journey to becoming an equine veterinarian. At high school level, you have to do well in subjects such as math and science, especially biology. (You could join math and science clubs to help yourself along your chosen career path.)

College Stage

Undergraduate courses in scientific areas such as nutrition, zoology, genetics, physics, chemistry, and biology will be useful while you do compulsory coursework in business, social science, humanities, English and math. A bachelor degree will be an advantage when you enroll into veterinary school. Some veterinary colleges required no more than forty-five to ninety undergraduate credits for enrollment.

You should do sufficient research on the admission requirements at the college you wish to attend. The requirements could differ from school to school and you should consider speaking with a counselor to get some advice on improving your chances during the admission process.

Veterinary Medicine Degree Stage

Having a bachelor degree helps, but still optional in many schools. However, potential veterinary graduates must meet the mandatory requirement of taking a standardized test, which could be VCAT (Veterinary College Admission Test), MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), or GRE (Graduate Record Examination).

After four years in veterinary school, you can pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) degree. During first couple of years, you’re involved in classroom lectures, in the form of biomedical science courses apart from preparation for clinical practice. The last two years, students gain supervised hands-on experience in clinical clerkships.  In the final year, students can opt for clinical rotations in a specialty such as equine medicine.

While an internship is great for experience, usually takes a year long, but isn’t mandatory for state licensure, it makes sense to complete one before you start your practice. The additional experience will help you gain more job opportunities and better earnings potential late in your career. You can consider an internship program offered by American Association of Equine Practitioners where potential interns are matched with licensed practitioners.

Licensure Stage

Licensure calls for completion of a veterinary training program along with completion of the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam that is conducted by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME).

Specialty Stage

After completing three to four years of residency training in a specialty area such as preventive medicine, dentistry, neurology, surgery or internal medicine that has the support of the American Veterinary Medical Association; you can register for board certification in your specialty.

Equine Studies Statistics

veterinarian college

Top Schools with Equine Studies Programs

School Name Tuition Size Degrees Granted Degrees Granted By Type
University of Findlay
Findlay, OH
$28,104 4,061 87 Associate (15), Bachelor’s (72)
Meredith Manor Intl. Equestrian
Waverly, WV
$23,508 100 80 Certificate (80)
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO
$23,095 22,158 72 Bachelor’s (72)
Hocking College
Nelsonville, OH
$7,986 5,465 58 Certificate (30), Associate (28)
Centenary College
Hackettstown, NJ
$28,890 2,170 29 Associate (1), Bachelor’s (28)
Central Wyoming College
Riverton, WY
$5,400 2,086 27 Certificate (17), Associate (10)
William Woods University
Fulton, MO
$19,000 1,084 23 Bachelor’s (23)
Johnson & Wales University
Providence, RI
$26,112 9,756 22 Associate (7), Bachelor’s (15)
Midway College
Midway, KY
$19,950 1,316 20 Associate (0), Bachelor’s (20)
Mid-America Technology Center
Wayne, OK
Unknown 753 16 Certificate (16)

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