How to Become an Emergency Veterinarian
Everyday thousands of pet in the United States require emergency treatment. Whether this is due to being hit by a car, being 'sick' or other medical issue, the estimated 160 million household pets living in America are potential patients that will make that unexpected trip to the animal hospital. Standing by to care for these animals are specially trained Emergency Veterinarians – dedicated to providing expert, emergency medical care around the clock.
What is an Emergency Veterinarian?
The Emergency Veterinarian is a specialist that provides medical care to animal patients at Animal Hospitals and Emergency Clinics. They treat several medical conditions including:
An Emergency Veterinarian also take referrals from general Veterinarians to treat existing animal patients under duress. Some of the typical emergency procedures they enact include:
It's also typical for emergency vet's to work with veterinary internal medicine specialists and surgeons at larger veterinary hospitals. Typically the work hours for Emergency Veterinarians can be chaotic. Due to the fact that most emergency vet hospitals are open around the clock, they can be expected to work late evenings, weekends, and some holidays. Emergency Veterinarians also tend to put in more work per week than other specialists.
The Educational Path for an Emergency Veterinarian
In order to become an emergency veterinarian, a qualified candidate must first receive their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. This course of study covers both small and larger animals. There are currently 28 different accredited Veterinary Medicine colleges in the United States that offers the DVM program. After passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE) to become a licensed Veterinarian the candidate will then proceed to completing the Board Certification program in the specialty of emergency and critical care Veterinary Medicine.
This program starts with a three-year residency program that is administered by approved emergency medical programs. Once the residency is completed, the candidate will need to pass the Board Certification that is administered by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. As of 2013, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that there are currently 468 Board Certified diplomats that specialize in Veterinary emergency and critical care.
Step by Step Educational Path of an Emergency Veterinarian
Pre-Graduate School Bachelor Degree
The initial educational phase that must be completed prior to heading to medical school is receiving a Bachelor Degree. During this four year program, it is recommended that a potential emergency veterinarian complete core studies in biological sciences, anatomy, physiology, mathematics, chemistry and communications. It's also a great idea for the future Veterinarian to volunteer at local animal shelters or attempt to gain a part-time job at a Veterinary clinic or hospital in some capacity. This allows the student to gather real world working experience and determine if a career in this profession is as good in person as it might be on paper.
Earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
An Emergency Veterinarian must first become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. This degree is completed at an accredited Veterinary medical college. It's a four year program that will focus on general animal anatomy, virology, nutrition and physiology during the first two years. The third year then focuses on clinical study and the final year of educational training is spent at Veterinary hospitals that are accredited by the Veterinary medical school. 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. Most states require additional certification to practice in each state.
Complete an Emergency Veterinarian Residency Program
The residency program for being an Emergency Veterinarian is designed to train a Veterinarian to become highly diverse in both human and veterinary ICU procedures, develop exceptional critical thinking skills and become highly competent in clinical practice of emergency and critical veterinary care – while maintaining a professional image at all times.
This program lasts three years and is completed upon successfully passing the board certification exam. During the residency program, the candidate will focus on several tasks including:
Once the residency is completed, the candidate will submit for board certification. This exam will be administered by the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care.
Understanding the Career Path of Becoming an Emergency Veterinarian
Career Options for Emergency Veterinarians
As the profession is named, Emergency Veterinarians most frequently work in Emergency Veterinary Hospitals or clinics. It's common for an Emergency Veterinarian to choose a specialty – either large animals (primarily livestock or equine) or small animals (primary domesticated pets). It's also common for experienced emergency veterinarians to find employment opportunities with colleges and universities to become educators. This often requires additional education to become a PhD.
In conjunction with the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (VECCS), a salary survey was completed by Veterinary Information Network (VIN) from February to March in 2012. The survey included the feedback of 423 individuals that listed Emergency Veterinary as a service they provided. A breakdown of those that were surveyed included 44 practice owners, 20 shareholders of Emergency Care facilities, and 358 associates that practice Emergency Veterinary Medicine provided feedback in this survey.
The range in salary was from $50,000 to $500,000. The average was $160,601 and the median was $120,000. The high end of this scale was reserved for individuals that owned emergency care facilities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics believes the growth rate of the Veterinary profession should increase at a rate of 35 percent over the next five year. Since pet ownership in households has steadily increased over the past twenty years, the need for board certified emergency veterinarians will also increase.
Making the decision to follow a career path of becoming an Emergency Veterinarian is one that any candidate must carefully consider. Although the growth potential and salary range is exceptional, the hard work and dedication required to be a successful emergency vet requires incredible determination. Due to the traumatic injuries that often are associated with emergency veterinary care, it's also suggested that any candidate have an exceptional ability to maintain professionalism – during times of potential emotional stress.
An emergency veterinarian can be the savior that provides exceptional critical care to save a patient life – but they also have the unenviable task of reporting bad news to pet owners. This skill requires exceptional tact, and compassion. Take this into consideration while making a choice to follow the career path of becoming an Emergency Veterinarian.