How to Become a Holistic Veterinarian: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a holistic veterinarian. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career in holistic veterinary medicine. View article »

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  • 0:00 Become a Holistic Veterinarian
  • 1:16 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 2:12 Pass Necessary Entrance Exams
  • 2:43 Earn a DVM Degree
  • 3:37 Acquire State Licensure
  • 4:15 Become Certified

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Video Transcript

Become Holistic Veterinarian

Holistic veterinarians diagnose and treat animals by using both traditional and alternative medicine. The work can be stressful, since veterinarians often work with sick animals and must make difficult decisions regarding the health of animals. Although the hours can be long, the work can also be rewarding and pays an above-average salary.

A bachelor's degree or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is required, depending on the employer. State licensure is required and certification as a homeopathic practitioner is available. Experience in a veterinarian clinic, as well as in agribusiness, research, or the health sciences is helpful. Keys to this job are communication skills, problem-solving skills, manual dexterity, and compassion. Knowledge of spreadsheet software, Microsoft Office, medical software, database user interface, and query software are important. Also important are knowledge of field-specific equipment and technology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the median salary for all veterinarians was $88,490 as of May 2015. Let's take a look at the steps needed to become a holistic veterinarian.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Degree programs for veterinarians do not always require a bachelor's degree; however, many aspiring vets complete one and those that don't still have to meet intensive prerequisite requirements. A four-year degree program such as a Bachelor of Science in Biology or Animal Science often satisfies these requirements. Heavily intensive in the study of natural sciences, the curriculum may contain courses in areas such as organic chemistry, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and zoology, which can prepare graduates for the more rigorous study of veterinary school.

Success Tip:

Gain work experience with animals. Veterinary colleges often look for applicants who have had experience working with veterinarians or scientists. Additionally, aspiring vets can also obtain useful experience by working directly with animals.

Step 2: Pass Necessary Entrance Exams

Veterinary medicine schools often require Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores for admission. The GRE is a general graduate admission test that scores applicants on their verbal and quantitative reasoning abilities. The MCAT, another multiple-choice exam, includes topics in the physical sciences, the biological sciences, verbal reasoning, and writing.

Step 3: Earn a DVM Degree

Accredited DVM programs include core training in topics such as physiology, anatomy, large and small animal medicine, pharmacology, and toxicology. Just as in medical school, internship and residency requirements apply.

Veterinarians must undergo supervised hands-on training in areas such as internal medicine, oncology, surgery, anesthesiology, cardiology, and theriogeneology. Schools may provide the option for students to specialize in a particular area of veterinary science, such as equine, small animal, or zoo and wildlife medicine.

Success Tip:

Complete an internship. A one-year internship can give veterinarians experience and help when applying for a job or a certification program.

Step 4: Acquire State Licensure

All states in the U.S. require that individuals hold a state license to work as a vet. Licensing requirements vary by state but are based on education and work experience. Additionally, all states require vets to take the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), which is administered by the National Board of Veterinary Medicine Examiners. This 360-question multiple-choice exam is administered twice per year. Check with individual state licensing boards for their regulations on NAVLE compliance.

Step 5: Become Certified

The final step is what separates a general veterinarian from a holistic one. Holistic vets can complete a certification program through the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy, which teaches homeopathic techniques to general veterinary practitioners. This program requires 100-125 hours of training that specifically focuses on alternative medical techniques, such as nutritional science, homeopathic remedies, and whole-animal diagnosis and treatment.

Holistic veterinarians must earn a bachelor's degree, pass entrance exams, earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, acquire state licensure, and become certified.

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