All Veterinary Medicine

Uninformed people tend to think of veterinary science as “medicine lite”. Nothing could be farther from the truth: getting into veterinary school is just as hard as starting your studies to become a doctor and the coursework is similarly demanding. Which one a talented student chooses may well depend on whether they like people or animals better.​Like prospective medical doctors, veterinary school applicants in the United States require a bachelor’s degree with a major related to biology. If accepted, it then usually takes four years to earn a doctorate of veterinary medicine (VMD or DVM). The final year is generally spent in supervised clinical practice at animal medical centers. After this, they can attempt the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination, plus (in most states) a proficiency test required by the state, and begin to practice.​In Europe, the process of studying veterinary medicine is somewhat more streamlined. Instead of having to earn a separate bachelor’s degree, students can enroll in veterinary programs straight out of high school. (Admission requirements are still steep, though, and usually include an entrance exam.) The course then runs for five or six years (i.e. two to three years less than in the U.S.), with the first couple of semesters devoted to foundational subjects. These courses are often available in the English language, while tuition fees tend to fall in the €5,000 to €10,000 per year range.​On returning to the United States after graduation, the organization you’ll be dealing with for licensing is called the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). Several European universities are directly accredited by them. A list of these is available on the AVMA website; their veterinary medicine degrees are considered directly equivalent to one earned in the U.S. ​If you earned a veterinary medicine qualification from some other European university, the process of getting certified is slightly more complicated. In addition to providing proof of your educational credentials and ability to speak English, you’ll have to pass a written test. ​Afterward, your clinical and diagnostic skills will be assessed in a hands-on environment over the course of three days. Competency certificates are not handed out like candy at Halloween: veterinary medicine is a respected profession and standards are high. On the other hand, a well-prepared foreign graduate should have no problem passing on their first try.