Students interested in a career in veterinary medicine should begin their preparation by doing well in general science and biology in junior high school. They need to take a strong science, math, and biology program in high school. Admission into veterinary medical school is competitive. In fact, many people would agree that it's just as tough if not tougher to get into a veterinary medical school compared to a human medical school.
To be considered for admission to a college of veterinary medicine, a student must first complete undergraduate preveterinary medical coursework, which usually includes three to four years of college study, with specific course requirements. Each college of veterinary medicine establishes its own preveterinary requirements. Typical requirements include basic language and communication skills, social sciences, humanities, mathematics, chemistry, and the biological and physical sciences.
Veterinary medical study is difficult. Students learn about many different animals and diseases, and become skilled in surgical techniques and many laboratory and diagnostic procedures. A typical veterinary medical student spends about 4,000 hours in classroom, laboratory, and clinical study. Because the time required for instruction absorbs most of a student's day, many evening and weekend hours are spent doing reading assignments, library research, and independent study.
Before graduate veterinarians can engage in private clinical practice in any state, they must acquire a license issued by that state. A license is granted only to veterinarians who pass state-required examinations.
Continuing education is important, even after veterinarians have completed their college studies and acquired the appropriate licenses. New scientific knowledge and techniques are constantly being developed, and veterinarians must keep up to date by reading scientific journals and attending professional meetings and seminars.