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Starting Your Practice: Different Types of Veterinary Jobs to Know
No matter if you are considering which path to take among numerous veterinarian careers or you are starting your own vet practice, you should be aware of different types of veterinarian positions. We will discuss some of the most important ones, including some additional roles which can help your practice run smoothly.
General Roles in a Veterinary Practice
Usually, pet owners think that only a licensed veterinarian is in charge of their pets’ health. When in reality, it takes a whole veterinary team to examine, diagnose, and assist with medical procedures.
The core of a vet team typically includes:
- Veterinary nurse/technician
- Veterinary assistant
In terms of credentials, veterinarians are DVMs (Doctors of Veterinary Medicine) that must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), which is required if entering private vet practice.
Another integral part of the vet team is a veterinary nurse or a technician (not to be confused with “veterinary technologist” — this term is reserved for individuals who are working in research-based facilities and laboratories.) The scopes of these roles are identical; which terminology will you use depends on your team. To become a vet nurse/tech, candiates must have a degree in veterinary technician practices and are required to pass the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE).
Also, depending on the state’s regulations, a future vet tech might need to gain additional certifications.
[READ MORE: How to Hire the Right Veterinary Technician]
Finally, a veterinary assistant is often a recent graduate without prior experience. Vet assistants don’t need to possess any special licenses or certifications. It’s also possible to hire an inexperienced person with just a high school diploma for on-the-job training with a seasoned veterinarian as a supervisor.
From Veterinary Technician to Veterinarian
In case you’re planning on advancing in your career as a healthcare professional, it’s possible to become a veterinarian if you started out as a vet tech. From paperwork to administering medications, the responsibilities of a vet tech are various and ever-changing on a daily basis.
However, there are limitations to this role. For example, a vet tech can’t:
- Diagnose patients
- Provide treatment plans and prescribe medication
- Perform procedures or surgeries (by themselves).
To become a vet, the first thing that a technician should do is secure their doctorate. Second, applying for a residency program brings invaluable clinical experience. Residency is an advanced training for a specific discipline and it can last for up to three years. After the residency program is completed, veterinarians who wish to specialize further need to apply for a board certification with an AVMA-recognized organization.
Types of Veterinarians
In general, we can summarize veterinarians into three categories:
- Companion (small) animal vets – these are the most prevalent vets that treat cats, dogs, rodents, birds, and some reptiles.
- Large animal (livestock) vets – these vets are taking care of horses, cows, sheep, pigs, and other livestock animals.
- Exotic animal vets – they can be specialized in certain types of wildlife or strictly offer medical services for exotic pets.
Putting this rough summary aside, the American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS) recognizes 22 AVMA-Recognized Veterinary Specialty Organizations™ comprising 46 distinct AVMA-Recognized Veterinary Specialties™. You can specialize in specific areas such as equine dental, virology, shelter medicine, and many, many more.
Types of Jobs in a Vet Office (and Additional Roles)
Depending on the practice size and types of procedures available, here are some additional potential job positions in a vet practice:
- Veterinary Nutritionist
- Veterinary Physiotherapist
- Kennel Technician
Besides all of these strictly medical roles, every practice needs to have a manager. Depending on the ownership, either the main veterinarian can be in charge or an additional hire can be selected for the manager role. In certain states, even non-veterinarians can be vet practice owners.
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