Veterinary Medicine

Today’s veterinarians are the only doctors that are educated to protect both animals and people. They address the health needs of every species of animal and they play a critical role in environmental protection, food safety, and public health. Veterinarians are animal lovers and understand the value of animals in our families and society.


Exposure to the Field

Shadowing & Volunteering

It is expected that a student interested in veterinary medicine will make every possible attempt to at least observe veterinarians in a variety of settings (large animal practice, small animal practice, research, wildlife conservation work, etc.) to acquire an overview of what the profession is all about. Veterinary schools typically require that applicants log a significant number of observation hours and have at least one letter of recommendation from a practicing veterinarian whom the applicant has worked with. Therefore, it is important for you be proactive in obtaining exposure to the field.

The Application Process

What courses do I take?:

A chart of prerequisite courses is provided by the VMCAS (veterinary common application).  It is the first link in the “Before Applying” section:

You should check your state veterinary school’s requirements early; some courses like animal nutrition that are commonly offered at schools with an agriculture college are not offered at WashU. You may be able to schedule these courses in the summer. Check the University College listings as well; some courses that veterinary schools require, such as animal behavior, are offered there. You will also need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Where do I apply?

If you have a state school, you will apply there.  If you do not have a state school check the following chart for whether your state has a contract with a veterinary school for designated spots:

Admission to veterinary school is highly competitive. There are presently 30 AVMA Council on Education accredited colleges/schools of veterinary medicine in the United States, and five in Canada.  AVMA schools are also found outside of North America. Most state schools have only a limited number of seats available for nonresident (or “at-large”) students.

Most veterinary schools require applications through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS). For information about application requirements, applicant data statistics, and other admissions resources, visit their site here

Join the AAVMC's Veterinary Student Engagement System (VSES). This email-newsletter program provides customized, targeted monthly newsletters:   and then “subscribe to VSES”

Professional Opportunities

Employment opportunities for veterinarians include such diverse areas as clinical practice, teaching, research, regulatory medicine, public health, and military service.

Private or Corporate Clinical Practice
In the United States, approximately two-thirds of veterinarians work in private or corporate clinical practice.

Teaching and Research
Veterinary college faculty members conduct research, teach, provide care for animals in the veterinary teaching hospital, and develop continuing education programs to help practicing veterinarians acquire new knowledge and skills.

Research veterinarians employed at universities, colleges, governmental agencies, or in industry (including pharmaceutical and biomedical firms) find new ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent animal health disorders. In addition to a veterinary degree, these veterinarians often have specialized education in fields such as pharmacology, toxicology, virology, bacteriology, laboratory animal medicine, or pathology.

Regulatory Medicine and Public Health
To prevent introduction of foreign diseases into the United States, veterinarians are employed by state and federal regulatory agencies to quarantine and inspect animals brought into the country.

Veterinarians serve in city, county, state, and federal agencies investigating animal and human disease outbreaks, the effects of pesticides, industrial pollutants, and other contaminants on animals and people and also protect the health and safety of animals and people through their work in developing disease surveillance and antiterrorism procedures and protocols.

Other Professional Activities
Veterinarians can specialize in areas such as zoologic medicine, aquatic animal medicine, aerospace medicine (shuttle astronauts), animal shelter medicine, sports medicine, animal-assisted activity and therapy programs, military service, and wildlife medicine. 

PreVet Advisor

Cecily Hawksworth
Appointment Calendar: