World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Veterinary medicine in the United States

Article Id: WHEBN0034434681
Reproduction Date:

Title: Veterinary medicine in the United States  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Paraveterinary workers, History of veterinary medicine in the Philippines, History of veterinary medicine in Pennsylvania, Kansas State University, Veterinary medicine in the United Kingdom
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Veterinary medicine in the United States

A vet examines a dog in New York

Veterinary medicine in the United States is the performance of veterinary medicine in the United States, normally performed by licensed professionals, and subject to provisions of statute law which vary by state. Veterinary medicine is normally led by veterinary physicians, normally termed veterinarians or vets.

Veterinarians are often assisted by paraveterinary workers including veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants, and in some cases, these para-professionals may perform work on their own.

Dependent on the jurisdiction, other professionals may be permitted to perform some animal treatment, through either specific exemptions in the law or through a lack of prohibitive legislation. This can include manipulation techniques such as physiotherapy, chiropractic and osteopathy, or animal-specific professions such as horse and cattle hoof trimmers, equine dental technicians, and technicians who specialize in cattle artificial insemination.


Veterinarian's Oath

The Veterinarian's Oath was adopted by the American Veterinary Medical Association's House of Delegates July 1969, and amended by the AVMA Executive Board, November 1999 and December 2010.


In order to practice, veterinarians must obtain a degree in veterinary medicine, followed by gaining a license to practice. Previously, veterinary degrees were available as a bachelor's degree, but now all courses result in the award of a doctorate and are therefore awarded a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) or Veterinary Medical Doctor (VMD) degree.

There is a high level of competition for admission to veterinary schools; there are currently only twenty eight veterinary schools in the United States which meet the accreditation standards set by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and five in Canada. Entrance requirements vary among veterinary schools, and various pre-professional degree programs have been developed to assist undergraduates in meeting these requirements. Such “pre-vet” programs are thus similar in concept to “pre-med” programs, and are often housed in Agricultural Biology,[1] Animal Science,[2] or Biological Science[3] programs.

Following qualification from the doctoral degree, the prospective veterinarian must receive a passing grade on the North America Veterinary Licensing Exam.[4] This exam is completed over the course of eight hours, and consists of 360 multiple-choice questions. This exam covers all aspects of veterinary medicine, as well as visual material designed to test diagnostic skills.


The mean salary for new graduates in 2010 was US$48,674 including nearly 50% going on to advanced study programs.[5] Those not continuing their studies made US$67,359 at first.[5]

The average income for private practice rose from $105,510 in 2005 to $115,447 in 2007. These increased values exceed those of public practice including uniformed services and government.[6]

Veterinary specialties

As opposed to human medicine, general practice veterinarians greatly outnumber veterinary specialists. Most veterinary specialists work at the veterinary schools, or at a referral center in large cities. As opposed to human medicine, where each organ system has its own medical and surgical specialties, veterinarians often combine both the surgical and medical aspect of an organ system into one field. The specialties in veterinary medicine often encompass several medical and surgical specialties that are found in human medicine.

Veterinary specialties are accredited in North America by the AVMA through the American Board of Veterinary Specialties.[7] While some veterinarians may have areas of interest outside of recognized specialties, they are not legally specialists.

Veterinary technicians

Veterinary technician logo

Veterinary technicians are the primary paraveterinary workers in the US and assist the veterinarian in the role of a nurse (and in most other anglophone countries, the equivalent role is called a veterinary nurse), providing trained support. The requirements for technicians vary by state, but in most cases, technicians are graduates of two or four year college-level programs and are legally qualified to assist veterinarians in many medical procedures.

Some states choose to license technicians, so that only people with appropriate qualifications are able to fulfill the role, but this is not the case in all jurisdictions.


Veterinary technology as an organized and credentialed career option is relatively young, only existing since the mid 20th century (although the seeds had been planted in 1908 when the Canine Nurses Institute was established in England, and as such is still struggling for recognition in many parts of the world. The first training program for technicians in the United States was established by the Air Force in 1951. The first civilian program was established ten years later in 1961 at the State University of New York (SUNY) Agricultural and Technical College at Delhi. In 1965 Walter Collins, DVM received federal funding to develop model curricula for training technicians. He produced several guides over the next seven years, and for this work he is considered the "father of veterinary technology" in the United States[8]).

Role and duties

Technical skills include: venipuncture; collecting urine; performing skin scrapings; taking and processing radiographs; and performing routine lab procedures and tests in: hematology, blood chemistry, microbiology, urinalysis, and microscopy. They assist the veterinarian with physical examinations that help determine the nature of the illness or injury. Veterinary technicians also induce and maintain anesthesia, and administer medications, fluids and blood products as prescribed by the veterinarian. Tasks in patient care include: recording temperature, pulse and respiration, dressing wounds, applying splints and other protective devices, and dental procedures. They perform catheterizations – urinary, arterial, and venous; ear flushes; intravenous feedings and tube feedings. Equipment use includes operating various types of patient monitors and imaging devices to include electrocardiographic, radiographic and ultrasonographic equipment. Larger referral practices and teaching hospitals may also find veterinary technicians operating computed tomography equipment, magnetic resonance imagers, gamma cameras and other advanced medical devices. Veterinary technicians commonly assist veterinarians in surgery by providing correct equipment and instruments and by assuring that monitoring and support equipment are in good working condition. They may also maintain treatment records and inventory of all pharmaceuticals, equipment and supplies, and help with other administrative tasks within a veterinary practice such as client education. Unlike their more specialized counterparts among medical paraprofessionals, the veterinary technician is usually the only paraprofessional found in a veterinary practice and is thus often called upon to be a jack-of-all-trades.

Education and credentialing

To become a credentialed veterinary technician, one must complete a two-year or three-year AVMA credentialled degree, most of which result in the awarding of an associate of applied science degree in veterinary technology (those completing a four-year AVMA accredited school gain a bachelor's degree are considered veterinary technologists though the distinction is rarely made with the term technician being used generally.[9]

The education a credentialed technician receives is in-depth and crucial for medical understanding and to give proper health care. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is responsible for accrediting schools with either Associate's degrees or Bachelor's degrees, though in some states or provinces this is not necessary. The AVMA also accredits schools that offer distance education. As a requirement of AVMA-accreditation, all distance learning programs require a significant amount of practical clinical experience before the student will be allowed to graduate.

Specialty certification

Beyond credentialing as a veterinary technician specialty certification is also available to technicians with advanced skills. To date there are specialty recognitions in: emergency & critical care, anesthesiology, dentistry, small animal internal medicine, large animal internal medicine, cardiology, oncology, neurology, zoological medicine, equine veterinary nursing, surgery, behavior, nutrition, clinical practice (canine/feline, exotic companion animal, and production animal sub-specialties), and clinical pathology. Veterinary Technician Specialists carry the additional post-nominal letters "VTS" with their particular specialties indicated in parentheses. As veterinary technology evolves more specialty academy recognitions are anticipated.

Veterinary Technician Oath

"I solemnly dedicate myself to aiding animals and society by providing excellent care and services for animals, by alleviating animal suffering, and promoting public health. I accept my obligations to practice my profession conscientiously and with sensitivity, adhering to the profession's Code of Ethics, and furthering my knowledge and competence through a commitment to lifelong learning."

Veterinary assistants

Non-credentialed personnel who perform similar tasks to veterinary technicians are usually referred to as veterinary assistants though the term technician is often applied generously. In many states, a veterinary assistant cannot legally perform as many procedures as a technician. Veterinary assistants often have no formal education related to veterinary medicine or veterinary technology, however, NAVTA recently approved the designation of Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) for those successfully completing approved educational programs. In larger facilities with tiered hierarchies veterinary assistants typically assist veterinary technicians in their duties.

Veterinary Malpractice

Most states in the US allow for malpractice lawsuit in case of death or injury to an animal from professional negligence. Usually the penalty is not greater than the value of the animal. For that reason, malpractice insurance for veterinarians usually is well under $500 a year, compared to an average of over $15000 a year for a human doctor.[10] Some states allow for punitive penalty, loss of companionship, and suffering into the award, likely increasing the cost of veterinary malpractice insurance and the cost of veterinary care. Most veterinarian carry much higher cost business insurance, worker's compensation, and facility insurance to protect their clients and workers from injuries inflicted by animals.

Need For Veterinarians in U.S.

There is a dire need for veterinarians in the United States. Stocks for companies such as MWI Veterinary Supply Inc., one of the major suppliers of veterinary related tools, vaccines, food, and more . For the past decade this company has shown major increases in revenue from year to year . This trend demonstrates how the veterinarian field is expanding, and its demand on supplies to feed the demand is increasing. Yet this demand has not been met in the U.S. Veterinarians who specialize in research of infectious diseases and translational medical research are especially needed . This type of research would not only benefit those who own pets, but the entire human population. By researching translational medical research, scientists would know how to prevent the transmission of diseases from humans to animals and vice versa. There is also a need for companion animal veterinarians. There are many aspects to a veterinary career that could help increase the interest for prospective graduates. If the government offered to cover start up costs for a new veterinary practice, if there was a large client base in the area, or a if car was provided for transportation, people would be more willing to open more practices which would help meet the need . As of now however, the economy and related start up costs of a private practice appear as an unsurmountable task which scares graduates from opening a private practice.

See also


  1. ^ Agricultural Biology pre-professional option at the New Mexico State University.
  2. ^ Animal Science pre-vet option at the University of Illinois.
  3. ^ Biology pre-vet/pre-med option at Purdue University.
  4. ^ "General NAVLE Information". National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. 
  5. ^ a b [1]
  6. ^ Burns, Katie. "AVMA Survey Measures Income Trends to 2007." AVMA Journals (1 January 2009): Javma News. American Veterinary Medical Association. 2 Mar. 2009 .
  7. ^ "American Board of Veterinary Specialties". 
  8. ^ McCurnin, Dennis M.; Bassert, Joanna M. (2006). Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians, Sixth Edition. St. Louis, Missouri:  
  9. ^ "AVMA Policy on Veterinary Technology".  
  10. ^

External links

  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • American Association of Veterinary State Boards
  • National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America
  • American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
  • American College of Veterinary Pharmacists
Speciality academies
  • Academy of Veterinary Technician Anesthetists
  • Academy of Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Technicians
  • Academy of Internal Medicine for Veterinary Technicians
  • Academy of Veterinary Behavior Technicians
  • Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians
  • Academy of Equine Veterinary Nursing Technicians
  • Academy of Veterinary Zoological Medicine Technicians
  • Academy of Veterinary Surgical Technicians
  • Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Clinical Practice
  • Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians
  • Rosol, Thomas, et al. “The Need for Veterinarians in Biomedical Research.” US

National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health Online Only Journal (2009): n. pag. Web. 21 April 2014.

  • “MWI Veterinary Supply Inc.” Business Insights: Essentials (2013): Web. 21

April 2014.

  • Turkson, P.K. “Promotion of Private Veterinary Practice in Ghana: Perceptions of

Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians.” Tropical Animal Health and Production 36 (2004): 413-425. Web. 21 April 2014.

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.