Pre-Veterinary Training Programs and Requirements

Jan 02, 2019

The path to being a veterinarian begins with completion of a pre-veterinary training program. Pre-veterinary training is made up of courses recommended by the student's veterinary school. The program doesn't lead to the conferring of a degree.

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Essential Information

Students in the pre-veterinary training can expect to take a mix of science with laboratory and mathematics courses. These programs provide students with the prerequisites required for admission to veterinary school. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED. Most programs require three years of study and often available at least partially online.


Pre-Veterinary Training Program

The coursework taken in the pre-veterinary program satisfies the educational requirements needed for admission into a veterinary medicine program. Laboratory exercises, such as animal dissection, teach anatomy, reproduction and microbiology. The pre-professional training program also discusses animal science, parasitology, agriculture, nutrition and vertebrate physiology. Pre-veterinary students commonly take courses in the following areas:

  • Organic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Calculus
  • Genetics
  • Physics.

Most pre-veterinary programs offer students an array of academic scholarships to pay for veterinary medical school. College advisers generally guide students in submitting all required materials through the Veterinary Medical Colleges Application Service (VMCAS) to apply to chosen veterinary schools. Some requirements may include standardized test scores, work experience, transcripts and college applications.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Entrance into the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program is wildly competitive and demands impressive grades in science, biology and math, in addition to a high GPA. Pre-veterinary students should expect to be asked to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) scores, depending on what the college demands. The college where the student will be applying stipulates which pre-veterinary courses a student must take. Communications skills and experience with animals are also commonly required for entry into veterinary programs.


Licensing and Continuing Education

Students finishing the pre-veterinary training program are not equipped to practice veterinary medicine. Most pre-veterinary students find experience in working part-time jobs or obtaining internships or volunteer positions. Not only do these experiences provide a day-to-day idea of what a veterinarian does, but they also meet the entry requirements of most veterinary medicine programs.

Students may shadow veterinarians working in private or public practices, such as a veterinary clinic, humane shelter or zoo. Admissions committees at veterinary schools highly recommend exposure to animals prior to beginning a veterinary degree program. An extracurricular activity in handling animals provides a picture of the students' work habits, compassion and general interest.

The most applicable academic training useful for pre-veterinary students is through their undergraduate social clubs. Most colleges with pre-veterinary training programs have a science club or Pre-Vet Medical Association (PVMA). Students may attend lectures, discuss career goals and network. Faculty advisors often sponsor activities, arrange monthly meetings and provide guidance.

Many veterinarians open their own practice. Students taking pre-veterinary training may consider taking management, marketing and business courses to obtain the skills needed to run a business.

For those interested in becoming veterinarians, pre-veterinary programs will fulfill the necessary education requirements. Advanced degrees require more specific and in-depth coursework.

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