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Military Veterinarian: Education and Career Information

If you are in the military, or have aspirations to be in the military and have an interest in caring for animals, you may want to consider becoming a military veterinarian. There are a number of ways to achieve this role. You must be licensed, but you can join the Veterinary Corps to assist in making a difference in the world of veterinary medicine.

What does a military veterinarian do?

A military veterinarian treats soldiers’ pets and pets of the soldiers’ families, goes on missions for the armed forces, and helps develop vaccines around the world. They focus on animal medicine, research development, and veterinary public health. They also command the veterinary corps unit in medical situations, treat government-owned animals and pets, instruct veterinary skills at schools, and train other service members and personnel, and operate in a number of capacities.

You may find these veterinarians working in academia, with the government, as a researcher, and with the military. Typical duties for this role includes drawing blood, prescribing medicine, basic health and wellness exams, performing surgeries, x-rays and caring for wounds. They assist with births and other duties that are necessary.

How much does a military veterinarian make?

Pay for a military veterinarian fluctuates based on rank, how many years of service, whether or not they receive basic allowance for housing and other factors. Salaries for a major start at about $58,300, while a captain makes about $51,000. This is based on approximately less than two years of service.

What skills are needed to become a military veterinarian?

Math and Science: Since this is a clinical specialization, having a thorough background in math and science is instrumental in being successful. This career path involves a lot of science and math coursework, including calculus, physics and zoology. A complete understanding of calculations for medicine based on weight, mixing formulas for maximized effectiveness and understanding the nutritional content are key.

Writing skills: There is quite a bit of paperwork and written communication involved in the practice of a military veterinarian. This is a highly specialized position, with a number of security measures and protocols in place. There must be a detailed account of every assessment, detail, evaluation and treatment. These records are crucial in documenting the health and wellness of government animals. Writing skills are also necessary when working on research and other professional documents that will be disseminated to colleagues and organizations.

Business Skills: Having a grasp of basic business principles will come in handy. Military veterinarians must have a knack for leadership and will have budgets to maintain. It is best to understand all the elements of standard business practices to keep the records up-to-date. When working with private contractors, contracts and other documents will need to be involved. Knowing the business aspect of how contracts work and reading financial reports will help keep your business on the upswing.

Ability to work with others: Being able to work with others, and taking directives is key in being successful in this field. Your ability to work with others and create a sense of trust will go a long way in getting new clients, following protocols, and retaining the existing ones. Remaining professional even in the event of a disagreement will go a long way.

Compassion: There are a number of situations that can occur with animals. Being sensitive to their needs and the needs of the families you serve is crucial. It is important to understand their concerns. Military veterinarians must be sensitive to certain situations and be able to effectively listen to any issues that are happening.

Love for animals: A military veterinarian should have a passion and enjoyment in working with animals, and keeping them in top shape for performance with the military.

Internship requirements

Standard residency and internships occur during the second two years of veterinary school. The internships include supervision under licensed veterinarians. Interns participate in clinical clerkships and gain first-hand experience. During the fourth year, the internship may focus on certain specialties, or require interns to participate in clinical rotations in equine medicine. For those individuals who wish to become certified in a specialty, the internship requirements are more intensive, and the internship period lasts three to four years after becoming licensed.

Educational requirements

There are a number of education requirements to becoming a military veterinarian. First, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree, then veterinary school. This will allow you to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (V.M.D or D.V.M.). Preparation to be a military veterinarian can start in secondary school by taking a lot of math and science courses. In your undergraduate program, majoring in zoology may be the best preparation, as there are no equine veterinarian programs at the undergraduate level.

Although a bachelor’s degree is usually needed, some veterinary schools will admit students prior to them receiving their undergraduate degree. Undergraduate coursework includes:

•Nutrition
•Chemistry
•Physics
•Biology
•Genetics
•Math
•Business
•Social science

Getting into veterinary school is very competitive, as there are not enough programs to accommodate the influx of students entering into the field. To get into veterinary school, you must take the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT).

Veterinary school is usually four years. Two years are required in the classroom, learning foundational knowledge and biomedical sciences, and the last two years are reserved for clinical practice.

Every state has specific requirements to become licensed. There must be proof of completion from a veterinary school and passage of the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Specializations in certain areas are also available. These specialties are approved after a three to four year residency program. The veterinarian is then eligible to apply for board certification in each specialty.

For the military, there are a number of additional requirements, including the following:

Active Duty

•Doctorate from an American Veterinary Medical Association – accredited veterinary school in the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico or Canada (foreign graduates may apply if they possess a permanent certificate from the Education Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates)
•License to practice in the United States
•Must be between 21 and 42 years of age

Army Reserve

•In addition to the above qualifications, permanent US residency is required for reserve duty officers.
•Must be between 21-42 years of age

All of these criteria must be met, in addition to meeting the requirements and basic training of the military. This is a rigorous process that goes beyond the standard schooling required. There are programs where military personnel can pursue their education as a veterinarian while in active service.

Veterinary/Zoology Scholarships

Bill Kane Undergraduate Scholarship CANfit Program Scholarships Gates Millenium Scholarship
The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship The Leopold Schepp Foundation Scholarship The Marion B. Pollock Fellowship
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Undergraduate Scholarship Tylenol Future Care Scholarship Gallagher Health Careers Scholarship

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