Being proactive in the medical field has become a vital step of the overall care process. Regardless of the intended patient; whether human beings or other animal species, it's often the job of a preventative medicine specialist to discover, diagnose and come up with treatment options to reduce the root causes of diseases to reduce outbreak. This duty is the job responsibility of Veterinary Preventive Medicine Specialists, also known as a Veterinary Epidemiologist.
What is a Veterinary Preventive Medicine Specialist?
A veterinarian that specializes in the discovery, monitoring, diagnosis, and prevention of diseases in animal species is known as a Veterinary Epidemiologist. The primary function of this type of specialist is to take proactive measures to ensure that the global community is protected against disease, by undertaking several specific job functions, including:
The specialty of Epidemiology is one of the 20-plus individual specialty professions that a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine can undertake after receiving their license to practice Veterinary Medicine. Typically these specialists work general office hours in government-funded or privately funded research facilities located throughout the United States. However, due to the unpredictable nature of diseases, and the potential for rapid outbreak, it is common for Veterinary Epidemiologists to work emergency hours when crisis situations occur.
This profession also allows a candidate to receive board certification. However, unlike other Veterinary specialties, board certification is not a required attribute in order to practice. According to the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, there are 75 Veterinary Epidemiologists practicing in the US as official diplomates of Board Certification. Those who do not receive board certification typically complete the US Food and Drug Administration's Epidemiology Training Program.
The Educational Path for a Veterinary Preventive Medicine Specialist
A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree is the primary requirement of a Veterinary Epidemiologist. The typical course of study a DVM will complete during medical school covers both large and small animal education. This broad-scope approach is especially valuable to the field of Epidemiology – as these professionals review diseases in all animal species. There are 28 individual veterinary medical colleges in the United States where a potential candidate can receive their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree, and complete licensing requirements.
After passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE) to become a licensed Veterinary Preventive Medicine Specialist, the candidate will then proceed to either board certification training through a residency program, or straight to the FDA's program.
Step by Step Educational Path of an Emergency Veterinary Preventive Medicine Specialist
Pre-Graduate School Bachelor Degree
Prior to enrolling in medical school, a qualified candidate must first receive a bachelor degree. This is completed at an accredited college or university. During this four-year program, it is recommended that anyone who would like to become a Veterinary Preventive Medicine Specialist completes core studies in biological sciences, anatomy, physiology, mathematics, chemistry, and communications.
Additionally, it's very common for future Epidemiologists to seek out career-building options during this phase of education. Many future Veterinarians will volunteer at local animal shelters or event take on part-time jobs at Veterinary hospitals or clinics. These real-world training opportunities give candidates a practical look into the profession.
Earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Once the bachelor degree has been received, the future Veterinary Epidemiologist will then seek out enrollment into Veterinary medical school. This education program is a four-year process that focuses on general animal anatomy, virology, nutrition, and physiology during the first two years; clinical study in year number three, and on-hand training in a clinic or hospital facility during the final year.
This is also the time period where the DVM licensing exam is taken. In order to practice Veterinary medicine a candidate must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Most states require additional certification to practice in each state.
Complete a Residency Program
Most residency programs in the Veterinary industry are very simple; two years of clinical training and one year of fellowship or internship. However, the residency program for Veterinary Epidemiologists is slightly different. The two-year residency program allotted for Veterinary Epidemiologists permits early to middle experienced veterinarians to gather specialized training in the field of Veterinary public health.
During this two-year cycle, the residents are provided with research projects that cover three specific fields of vocation:
This program is monitored by board certified Veterinary Epidemiologists who act as mentors for the candidate. During this residency, the candidate will also have the opportunity to earn their Masters of Public Health degree. This is often the career path that individuals who wish to work in government research, choose. Private practice Preventive Medicine Specialists will continue to board certification.
Board Certification or FDA Training Program
Another significant difference between this vet specialty and others is that candidates may choose two separate paths to follow:
The board certification platform is monitored and administered by the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated competency in epidemiological research, teaching, or practical application in ways that promote the development and advancement of epidemiology.
To pass board certification, a candidate must:
The FDA's training program is a collaborative effort through several organizations -– but is overseen by the FDA. This program is designed to teach candidates how to conduct independent research that is targeted towards the safety and effectiveness of regulatory decisions that impact the overall public health.
Candidates that complete this training program work directly with the FDA, or other government agencies to complete research and discover disease threats of individual animal species.
Understanding the Career Path of Becoming a Veterinary Epidemiologist
It's typical for new Veterinary Epidemiologists to find employment in a few different sectors. Some of these opportunities include:
Candidates who explore working in government organizations typically find employment first with the FDA through their epidemiologist program, which is designed to monitor disease transmissions in livestock animal species that impact the global food supply. These specialists often work with the Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition among other agencies.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for all epidemiologists approached $74,000 as of May, 2014. The bottom ten-percent earned roughly $40,000, while the top ten-percent of this scale approached nearly $100,000, annually. Typically, individuals who seek employment with privately funded companies (such as Pharmaceutical companies) earn higher salaries than government-regulated programs.
With the advancement of medical science and the importance of monitoring public health conditions, the career outlook for professionally trained Veterinary Epidemiologists remains high. In fact, the BLS estimates that the entire Veterinary profession is expected to grow as much as thirty-five-percent before 2020. This industry is extremely competitive -– with very few sources of educational training. However, as technology and drug treatments continue to evolve –- so does the complexity of disease. This is primarily due to the scientific fact that there will always be a need for epidemiologists.