How to Become a Veterinary Anesthesiologist
It's estimated by The Humane Society of The United States that nearly 62 percent of all households in America have a pet living with the family. Pet ownership has skyrocketed in the past 40 years, and with the explosion in pet ownership comes the need for medical professional to care for these animals. This responsibility falls on the passionate animal advocates known as Veterinarians. And one of the quickest growing specialties in this medical field includes Veterinary Anesthesiologists.
What is a Veterinary Anesthesiologist?
It is the responsibility of Veterinary Anesthesiologists to provide sedation, pain-relief and anesthesia by use of medication during Veterinary surgical procedures and diagnostic examinations. The general duties of a Veterinary Anesthesiologist include:
In order to become a Veterinary Anesthesiologist, a qualified candidate must first pass all requirements as a licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
The Educational Requirements for Becoming a Veterinary Anesthesiologist
Like any medical specialist, a Board Certified Veterinary Anesthesiologist first needs to become a licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. The educational path begins with a four-year Bachelor Degree at an accredited college or university. The path then advances to earning their Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Veterinary School. This process is completed when the qualified candidate takes the North American Veterinary License Examination (NAVLE) exam in order to practice in the United States. It's also critical to obtain individual state licensing and practice in the state of the candidates choice.
After completing the initial Veterinary program, a Veterinary Anesthesiologist will complete three additional years of specialty training in anesthesia plus complete at least one year of working with general Veterinary clinic patients. This process makes one eligible to complete Board Certification examination. The certification is administered in the United States by The American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists and includes both written and oral examinations.
Step by Step Educational Path of a Veterinary Anesthesiologist
Pre-Graduate School Bachelor Degree
The first step in becoming a Veterinary Anesthesiologist is to complete a Bachelor's Degree. Most of the veterinary schools in America do not have a prerequisite on a major field of study however most Veterinarians typically obtain a degree in biological science. The primary courses required for entrance into Veterinary colleges include chemistry, biology, math and physics – however individual course requirements differ between Veterinary colleges. Many graduate schools also require students complete advanced science education in biochemistry and animal behavior.
Earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
The education path for a Veterinary Anesthesiologist will advance to completing post-graduate education and becoming a licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. The first two years typically focus on general animal physiology, anatomy, nutrition and virology. During the third year the focus typically shifts towards clinical studies – where the student will have an opportunity to apply into practice what they've learned. The final year in Veterinary College is spent with applied experiences – typically at specialty hospitals associated with many Veterinary colleges.
This is also where the licensing exam is taken. In order to practice Veterinary medicine a candidate must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam – however, most states require additional certifications to practice in each state.
Complete a Veterinary Anesthesiologist Residency Program
A candidate for becoming a Veterinary Anesthesiologist must complete (3) years of specialty training that includes the residency program administered by an accredited Veterinary College at a veterinary hospital. They must also have published one study that is related to veterinary anesthesiology in a professional publication or journal. Once the candidate completes the residency program and additional training, they must pass the The American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists board certification.
The primary goal of this residency program is to teach and prepare an individual to act as a qualified practitioner of pain management medication and veterinary anesthesiology. The program is designed to focus on several skills including:
According to the ACVA, there are roughly 220 board certified Veterinary Anesthesiologists that practice in parts of North America, Europe, Australia and Africa.
Understanding the Career Path of Becoming a Veterinary Anesthesiologist
Career Options for Veterinary Anesthesiologists
Typically, a board certified veterinarian that specializes in Anesthesiology has two primary career paths to follow:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Board Certified veterinary anesthesiologists typically practice in academia by becoming teachers at veterinary schools. The Bureaus discovered that the average salary for secondary teachers approached $63,000 annually in 2010. The top 10% of veterinary anesthesiologists earned slightly more than $130,000 per year.
Like most medical professionals, the need for qualified and passionate veterinary anesthesiologists to provide medical care for animals continues to grow. In fact, according to the BLS, the growth rate of the veterinarian profession from 2010 to 2020 is nearly 35 percent. Since pet owners are trending to spend more money on quality care for their beloved animal friends – particularly for insuring their comfort and easing pain, the demand of Board Certified Veterinarian Anesthesiologists should increase in upcoming years.