Veterinary Pathologists recognize major health hazards before almost anyone else; for example, the West Nile Virus. When diseases attack or kill animals, they can be potentially dangerous for humans as well, as animals interact with humans in many positive ways, including companionship, providing therapy, and preparation of food, among others. Veterinary Pathologists are responsible for studying disease and its effect on animals, which, in turn, helps cure and prevent both animal and human disease.
What is a Veterinary Pathologist
Veterinary pathologists specialize in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases in animals. They also play an important role in scientific research, drug discovery and safety. Veterinary pathology is divided into two specialties: anatomical pathology and clinical pathology.
By studying animal health and disease prevention, Veterinary Pathologists aid humans as well; by recognizing a health hazard, and by performing studies to further our knowledge of both the causes and methods to prevent the spread of disease in humans and animals. For example, it was veterinary pathologists who first recognized that a new disease, the West Nile Virus, had invaded North America. Many veterinary pathologists hold significant positions on research teams, exploring some of the world’s most serious issues, such as cancer, bioterrorism and AIDS.
Key roles for a Veterinary Pathologist include:
Understanding the Educational Path to Become a Veterinary Pathologist
A Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and Veterinary Pathology residency are the primary educational requirements for a career as a Veterinary Pathologist. However, the educational path toward becoming a Veterinary Pathologist begins with the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Veterinary Pathologists must have strong skills in math and science, as well as a keen desire and ability to interact with, and care for, animals.
Educational Path of a Veterinary Pathologist
Earn a bachelor's degree
Veterinary Pathologists can major in a variety of disciplines. However, it is suggested future Veterinary Pathologist major in specialist areas similar to the prerequisite courses they will be required to complete for admission to most veterinary schools. According to the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, these courses include biology, physics, biochemistry and organic chemistry. Strong English skills are also required.
Complete veterinary school
Earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree requires completing a four-year program. The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine emphasizes foundational training in comparative biology and medicine, including clinical work. The second half of veterinary school allows students’ opportunities to train in more specialized areas, such as wildlife medicine, exotic animals, nutrition, marine life, surgery, cardiology, and oncology.
Obtain a License
In order to legally practice veterinary pathology, graduates must obtain a veterinary license by passing the North American Veterinary Licensure Exam.
Complete a Veterinary Pathology residency
A Veterinary Pathology residency is required for aspiring Veterinary Pathologists.
Strong residency programs will include work in both anatomic and clinical pathology practices and experience in diagnostic service rotations, formal coursework, teaching and research (Texas A&M 2015). Formal courses in veterinary pathology may include molecular biology, microbiology, advanced immunology parasitology, biopsy, necropsy, hematology and diagnoses.
Obtain a Certification
The American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) certifying examination recognizes entry-level competency in veterinary clinical and anatomic pathology. While not required for legal practice, Veterinary Pathologist who has successfully completed a residency program may sit for the American College of Veterinary Pathologists' board exam.
Understanding the Career Path of Becoming a Veterinary Pathologist
Veterinary Pathologists work in many different capacities, including diagnostic laboratories, teaching, pharmaceutical, zoos, wildlife groups, agrochemical and biotechnology research, and government entities, such as the Center for Disease Control, Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.
Professional organizations can be used as a means for networking, community service, think tanks, research, continued education and specialized learning.
Veterinary Pathologist should consider joining the American Society of Veterinary Clinical Pathology. A few benefits include, access on the ASVCP website, which offers communication with colleagues for consultation and discussion, opportunities to network and interact on issues impacting the profession, up-to-date information pertaining to the field of veterinary pathology, and much more.
As of 2012, the American Veterinary Medical Association found that veterinary pathologists with less than two years of experience earned $100,000 to $110,000 annually. Those with three to five years of experience earned in the range of $150,000. Veterinary Pathologists with eleven or more years of experience earn a yearly income of $200,000. However, the median income for Veterinary Pathologists is $157,000.
While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not track numbers for Veterinary Pathologists, the BLS reported the veterinary profession is expected to grow at a rate of thirty-six percent between 2010 and 2020. However, with more pet owners spending larger sums of money on advanced treatment, the specialist that chose Veterinary Pathology as a career path also seems to have a positive growth potential ahead of them.