How to Become a Veterinary Internist
For pet owners, one of the most frustrating situations they deal with is when their animal friends are not 'feeling well'. Although a trip to the local vet's office is typically the first step in treatment, it's often the job of a specialist known as a Veterinary Internist to find out specifically what is ailing the animal – and provide treatment and assemble care programs designed to keep both small and large animals in good health. And just like any other veterinary specialty, the path of learning how to become a Veterinary Internist is complex, requires extensive dedication and a true desire to improve the quality of life for animal patients.
What is a Veterinary Internist?
A Veterinary Internal Medicine specialist is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine that has completed advanced training specifically in the field of Internal Medicine. They are often referred to in the Veterinary circle as puzzle solvers due to the fact that their primary job is to collect as much data as possible to solve complex medical conditions in animals. Some of the specific studies and information they will gather to diagnose and treat internal medical conditions in animals include:
A Veterinary Internist typically works closely with Veterinarians to provide a second set of eyes to help diagnose difficult cases, provide specialized hospital treatment and recommend advanced therapy and medication for animal patients. These specialists also treat many medical diseases that animals may be diagnosed with including:
What is the Educational Path of a Veterinary Internist?
Like all Veterinary Specialists, the direct educational path begins with a Bachelor Degree. Then the candidate must pass all requirements to become a licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, followed by residency training in the specialty of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 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 candidate's choice.
The residency program is administered by The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). This additional training program will include an internship at an accredited veterinary hospital, a three-year residency program, often includes masters studies in additional specialties such as Cardiology, Large Animal Intestinal Medicine (LAIM), Neurology, Oncology and Small Animal Intestinal Medicine (SAIM). In order to become board certified, a candidate must complete advanced specialty training in one of these medical fields of study and pass the board certification exams.
Step by Step Educational Path of a Veterinary Internist
Complete a Veterinary Internist Residency Program
The residency program for becoming a Veterinary Internist is highly diverse. Essentially, a successful candidate must make the decision while in Veterinary College which individual career path they choose to follow. In general, there are five different Internist Specialties:
As noted in the above links provided by The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the specific residency requirements vary with each specific program. Once a candidate makes the decision to follow the educational path for becoming a Veterinary Internist, they will have to complete several steps:
Understanding the Career Path of Becoming a Veterinary Internist
Career Options for Veterinary Internists
After becoming board certified as a Veterinary Internist, the sky is virtually the limit – depending greatly on the individual. There are several career paths that a specialist that chooses internal medicine can follow including:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Board Certified Veterinary Specialists like an Internist typically practice in academia by becoming teachers at veterinary schools or at Animal Hospitals. The Bureaus discovered that the average salary for Veterinary Internists has a range in salary from $70,000 to $160,000. The median average salary for a Veterinary Internist is roughly $140,000 annually.
The growth rate of domestic pet ownership in America along with the advance in medical treatments available to cure medical conditions once untreatable in Veterinary Medicine equates to a growth potential for this profession. According to the BLS, there is expected to be a growth rate around 35 percent in the next five years. And with American households spending more money annually on the specialty care of their pets, the career options for becoming a Veterinary Internist definitely shows potential.
However, as noted above, it's critical to realize that this career path is among the hardest to complete – especially with the advanced residency and board certification requirements of Internal medicine specialists in Veterinary Medication. A candidate must possess exceptional interpersonal skills, combined with a solid work ethic and a general compassion for the ethical treatment of animals to become a successful Veterinary Internist.