What is Veterinary Medicine?

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  • 0:01 Veterinary Medicine Defined
  • 0:55 Practice, Business &…
  • 2:40 Military, Research & Academia
  • 4:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will define veterinary medicine and describe the various areas where it's needed, such as private practice, the government, academia, and more.

Veterinary Medicine Defined

Can you imagine working in a career field that lets you help people and animals at the same time? To protect human and animal health? To nurture deep emotional bonds?

It's a field that forces you to be a businessman or woman, amateur psychologist, detective, and medical practitioner all at the same time, as you run your own practice, console clients, and gather the information you need to properly treat your patients. And if you like to travel, working in this field may take you all over the world! If this sounds like a challenge that you'd like to be a part of, then perhaps veterinary medicine is for you.

Veterinary medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with the study, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of animal diseases, the nurturing of the human-animal bond, as well as the preservation of human health and the protection of a nation's food supply.

Practice, Business, & Government

With that definition, you can venture to guess that the role of veterinary medicine lies far beyond the traditional medical practice, the practice of clinical medicine, many times in a private clinic or hospital.

Medical practice technically encompasses shelter medicine, veterinary medicine geared towards the needs of shelter animals and the needs of animal shelters, such as the prevention of disease outbreaks therein. But shelter medicine is often times performed in government-run facilities or non-profit organizations instead of private hospitals.

And so, let's take a quick look at some of the many other places where veterinary medicine is needed. Corporations, such as pharmaceutical companies, need veterinarians to help test human drugs for safety, test animal drugs for safety, and provide their research animals with much-needed medical care.

Federal and state governments rely on veterinarians for a wide range of roles. From helping to craft legislation and enforcing animal welfare laws, to biosecurity and investigation of human and animal disease outbreaks, to protecting the environment, food supply, and public health.

Major governmental agencies where veterinary medicine is in need include the:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Military, Research, & Academia

The need for veterinary medicine also extends to the uniformed services, namely the U.S. Army Corps, U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Public Health Service. Here, veterinarians take care of military animals, ensure a healthy food supply for our men and women in uniform, and visit countries abroad to help provide goodwill medical care and protect that nation's food supply. Additionally, they may manage disease control programs for things like HIV and some human disease vaccination programs as well.

Veterinarians are also needed in laboratories for research, either for the government, universities, or corporations they are employed within. In these cases, they work on everything from drug research to research on disease outbreaks, vaccinations, veterinary nutrition, and much more.

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