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Veterinarians play a major role in the health care of pets, livestock, and zoo, sporting, and laboratory animals. Most veterinarians perform clinical work in private practices. About half of these veterinarians predominately or exclusively treat small animals. Small animal practitioners usually care for companion animals such as dogs and cats, but also treat birds, reptiles, rabbits, and other animals that may be kept as pets. Some veterinarians work in mixed animal practices where they see pigs, goats, sheep, and some nondomestic animals in addition to companion animals. Veterinarians in clinical practice diagnose animal health problems, vaccinate against diseases such as distemper and rabies, medicate animals with infections or illnesses, treat and dress wounds, set fractures, perform surgery, and advise owners about feeding, behavior, and breeding. Veterinarians who are livestock inspectors check animals for transmissible diseases, and advise owners on treatment. Veterinarians who are meat, poultry, or egg product inspectors examine slaughtering and processing plants, check animals and carcasses for disease, and enforce government regulations regarding food purity and sanitation. Some veterinarians care for zoo, aquarium, or laboratory animals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best major for admission to veterinarian school?

Most veterinarian students major in biology. If you major in biology at Mississippi College, you will need to pursue the medical sciences career tract. Most veterinarian schools also require one semester of biochemistry and microbiology.

What kind of education is required to be a veterinarian?

Prospective veterinarians must graduate from a 4-year program at an accredited college of veterinary medicine with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M. or V.M.D.) degree and obtain a license to practice. In addition to satisfying preveterinary course requirements, applicants must also submit test scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT), or the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) depending on the preference of each college.

What type of prerequisites do veterinarian schools require?

Requirements vary among schools. The following are the requirements for the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine

GPA Requirements:

  • Minimum 2.80/4.00 overall
  • Minimum 3.00/4.00 in required math and science courses
  • Average overall GPA for 1999 entering class: 3.61/4.00

Additional Testing:

  • VCAT (Veterinary College Admissions Test) or
  • GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is required for admissions.

No minimum score required.

Admissions Breakdown:

  • 50% Academics
  • 15% Application (written materials)
  • 5% Confidential Evaluations
  • 10% VCAT/GRE
  • 20% Admissions Interview

Course Work:

Communication (9 hours)

  • 3 hours: English Composition I
  • 3 hours: English Composition II
  • 3 hours: Speech

Physical Sciences (18 hours)

  • 4 hours: Chemistry I with lab
  • 4 hours: Chemistry II with lab
  • 4 hours: Organic Chemistry I with lab
  • 3 hours: Elementary Biochemistry
  • 3 hours: Trig-based Physics with lab

Mathematics (6 hours)
Any mathematics course equal to or higher in level than College Algebra is acceptable.

Nutrition (3-5 hours)
Must be biochemistry based animal or human nutrition course.

Humanities, Fine Arts, Social Sciences, Behavioral Sciences (15 hours)

Biological Sciences (14 hours)

  • 4 hours: Vertebrate Zoology with lab
  • 4 hours: Microbiology with lab
  • 3 hours: Cell Biology
  • 3 hours: Genetics

Total Required Hours: 65-67 hours

What kind of courses will I be taking in veterinary school?

The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine offers a 4-year professional curriculum leading to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree. The fundamental goal of the program is to develop graduates with skills and behaviors necessary to foster lifelong learning and a career of service managing animal health and disease. The first two years of the program (Phase 1) are presented by the problem-based learning (PBL) method. Students utilize the resources of the college to solve simulated animal problems in a guided independent study of basic and clinical sciences. The second two years (Phase 2) of the curriculum place students in the Animal Health Center where they are directly involved in patient care. After successfully completing required clinical rotations, students design a personal program of study that emphasizes their interests in one or more of the specialized aspects of veterinary medicine.

Details on application for admission and entrance requirements are available from the Office of Student Affairs, College of Veterinary Medicine, P.O. Box 9825, Mississippi State, MS 39762, phone (662) 325-1129.

What is VMCAS?

The Veterinary Medical College Application Service, or VMCAS, is sponsored by the AAVMC and serves as a central place for the distribution and processing of applications to veterinary medical schools. Most veterinary schools use the service, which allows you to file one application and have it distributed to the participating schools in which you're interested. VMCAS is a processing service. It does not set application requirements or deadlines, and is not involved in making admissions decisions. You must discuss those issues with the schools you're interested in.

Contact VMCAS at:

PO Box 24700
Oakland CA 94623-1700
Telephone: (510) 873-8180
TDD: (510) 510-465-5571

What do veterinarians earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the yearly median pay for veterinarians was $84,460 in 2012.

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