Contrary to popular belief, not all animals have the same vision acuities. Some animal species like dogs are color blind – while others like birds and bees have exceptional vision – and can see many different colors that the human eye can't distinguish. It's the job of a Veterinary Ophthalmologist to provide optical care for a wide variety of animal species, in private practices, research facilities and public zoos. And for those who strive to learn how to become a Veterinary Ophthalmologist, the career outlook looks very promising.
What is a Veterinary Ophthalmologists?
A Veterinary ophthalmologist is a specialist that has advanced education and experience to provide ocular heath along with specialized optical surgical procedures for animal species. Like most advanced veterinary specialists the ophthalmologist first earns a degree as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine before picking their specialty and enrolling in residency training and education. After enrolling in a residency program, the candidate will sit and must pass board certification.
For VO's this program is overseen by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO). The board certification consists of practical, written, oral and surgical examination elements that are tested over the period of four consecutive days. Once the candidate passes all phases, they are granted board certification and become a diplomate in the specialty of Veterinary Ophthalmology. As of 2012, there were 352 active VO's practicing in the United States.
The job duties of a Veterinary Ophthalmologist include:
Veterinary ophthalmologists like most other specialists decide to work with either large animals or small animals. They tend to be employed in private practices and many choose at some point in their careers to advance to academia – becoming instructors and teachers in Veterinary Ophthalmological colleges and universities.
The Educational Path for a Veterinary Ophthalmologist
As we stated above, the Veterinary Ophthalmologists is a specialist in the field of Veterinary medicine. This educational path requires a Bachelor Degree, obtaining a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, completing residency training and finally passing board certification. After obtaining a license to practice Veterinary medicine, a candidate will complete an internship and residency program. The internship traditionally lasts one year and the residency is a three year program. This residency training is completed at a veterinary teaching clinic or hospital and is always administered under the direct supervision of a board certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist.
Step by Step Educational Path of a Veterinary Ophthalmologist
Pre-Graduate School Bachelor Degree
In order to successfully become a Veterinary Ophthalmologists a Bachelor's Degree is first required. Any candidate for this profession will need to complete primary course study that will focus on mathematics, chemistry, biological sciences, physiology and communications.
Many successful Veterinarians suggest that during primary college education that a candidate focuses a majority of their 'free time' volunteering in veterinary clinics, animal shelters or assist in research projects or clinical trials at their university. Not only will this experience provide practical training for any potential Veterinarian, but it will also polish up the resume for entrance into medical school.
Earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Becoming a licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is the next step in the educational path for a Veterinary Ophthalmologists. This four-year program begins with the first two years focusing on general animal physiology, anatomy, nutrition and virology. In the third year, the curriculum shifts towards clinical studies, where the student veterinarian student will be given the opportunity to apply into practice what they've learned in the classroom.
The final year of education is spent at specialist veterinary hospitals that are accredited by the Veterinary medical school. It's also at this time where the 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 Veterinary Ophthalmologists Residency Program
The ophthalmology residency program is a four year program that is designed to provide detailed medical and surgical training in the areas of comparative ophthalmology. The course curriculum includes veterinary ophthalmology training with:
Veterinary Ophthalmologist Residents are responsible for hospital patients and assist in instruction of professional veterinary medical students and other residents. The program is designed to prepare the resident for both on-site clinical and research careers with board certification that is administered by the American Board of Veterinary Ophthalmology.
The primary goals of this residency program include:
Understanding the Career Path of Becoming a Veterinary Ophthalmologists
Career Options for Veterinary Ophthalmologists
The job profession options for a Veterinary Ophthalmologist are similar to most veterinary specialties. After becoming a board certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist, they can choose between two different sectors:
A study completed in 2009 indicated that the average annual salary for a veterinarian ophthalmologist was $215,120 – making this specialty one of the highest in the Veterinary industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for all veterinarians was $93,250 as of May 2012. Just like any other specialty, salary and compensation is primary based on need, supply and demand for the practice. And since more pet owners are spending more money on specialized treatments for their pets than in recent years, salary expectations for this specialty should remain on the higher end of the scale.
The overall career outlook for the profession of Veterinarian is positive. In fact, the BLS estimates that the growth rate from 2010 to 2020 will eclipse 35 percent. Veterinary Ophthalmologists complete a very detailed and rigorous residency training program and must continually improve their education to maintain board certification. Plus, as indicated above, more pet owners are seeking out specialist treatment options than ever before – which means that the need for qualified Veterinarian Ophthalmologists remains in high demand.
For people that have a keen eye for detail, enjoy laboratory studies and providing specialty training and services to pet owners and different animal species, this career option is a good fit. The job potential for Veterinary Ophthalmologists is positive – and growth in the overall veterinarian industry is expected to expand. The timing is right to enter this specialty – as long as the candidate sees the potential and hard work required to become a successful Veterinary Ophthalmologist.