Veterinarians are medical professionals who are involved in the practice of animal medicine and surgery. They diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases and abnormalities of animals. In particular, they treat animals, livestock, and pets at zoos, veterinary clinics, and veterinary hospitals. Some veterinarians conduct clinical studies on animal and human diseases and use their skills to prevent and protect humans from potentially harmful diseases carried by certain animals. Others educate people about animal diseases that could cause damage to people and their pets. Still others simply provide veterinary services.
The majority of veterinarians are internal medicine specialists, focusing on animal diseases and infections while some specialize in surgery, diagnosing and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system, affecting the skin and muscles. Others focus on the development and maintenance of healthy animals, working with nutrition and food safety. Vegetable and fruit growers, dairy producers, pharmaceutical representatives, and researchers are often veterinarians.
Many veterinarians have advanced degrees and pursue careers as researchers. Animal chiropractic doctors generally specialize in treating and preventing diseases of animals using manual techniques and chiropractic approaches to diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. A pediatrician works to diagnose, monitor, and prevent illness and disease in children. A veterinary surgeon specializes in animal surgery, managing and treating animals, including hunting, wildlife, zoo and farm animals, sports medicine, and surgical procedures. A veterinary nurse provides veterinary medicine assistance to healthcare providers, doctors, surgeons, and technicians providing on-site patient care.
Veterinary colleges provide a variety of courses and programs to train future veterinarians. One such program is the Association of American Veterinarians (AAVCA), which is the only veterinary organization founded solely volunteer organizations. The association has two main sections, the Education and Veterinary Section and the Applied Veterinary Medicine Section. Both sections educate veterinarians on current advances in animal nutrition and surgery along with providing continuing education for current students. Both sections work to endorse important issues in the field of veterinary medicine and improve the standards of animal care. Many other associations, universities, schools, and medical organizations offer similar courses and programs.
The majority of veterinarians work with animals on a full-time basis; however, there are veterinarians who dedicate some of their time to perform surgery on animals on a part-time basis. Those veterinarians who are working in the human health care field to provide services to patients who are not related to human patients. Examples include cat and dog breeders, family pet doctors, holistic practitioners, physical or cosmetic specialists, and veterinary technicians. Veterinarians can specialize in specific areas within the animal health care field, such as trauma, allergies, diabetes, cancer, geriatric medicine, oncology, nutrition, preventive care, parasitology, prescription medicine, surgery, or even pets (though not all veterinarians can perform surgery on pets.)
In summary, veterinary medicine is a growing area of specialization within the human health care profession. Many veterinarians participate in continuing education courses so that they will be up to date on the latest developments in this growing industry. Veterinary medicine is a subset of the medical field that is experiencing growth due to increased patient demand, technological advances, and the need for specialized veterinarians to treat complex health issues affecting humans. Veterinary medicine continues to prove that the sciences can provide answers that even the most technologically advanced diseases can be addressed by competent veterinarians. For more information on the practice of veterinary medicine, as well as the careers available to veterinarians, contact the American Veterinary Medical Association or AVMA.