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The path to becoming a veterinarian begins with a compassion for animals. This is combined with a college education in science followed by four years in veterinary school and state licensing exams. Veterinarians treat sick animals by conducting physical examinations, prescribing medicines and performing medical procedures. They also educate animal owners and provide preventative treatments to animals. The work can be rewarding, especially when a vet sees a sick animal return to health. Veterinarians, however, acknowledge that there are some disadvantages to their job.
While some veterinarians work for government agencies and large organizations, such as zoos, the majority work in private clinical practice. A veterinary clinic can be time-consuming and costly to set up and maintain. A self-employed vet needs office space, examining rooms and a secure storage area for medicines. The veterinarian might also hire office staff to take appointments and assistants to help with the animals. Additional expenses include the cost of medical supplies, equipment, furniture, office supplies and advertising.
Veterinarians often respond to emergencies that can occur at any time of the day or night. Some vets, particularly those who work with large animals, may need to travel to where the animals are located. This might mean traveling to a farm in the middle of the night to assist with an animal birth emergency. Unless there are other vets in the same office or area to share the work load, a veterinarian might find it difficult to schedule vacation days.
Veterinarians are compassionate people and often have to deal with the fact that they cannot cure or treat every sick animal they encounter. This can be emotionally draining on a veterinarian, as he deals with both his own emotions and provides advice to grieving pet owners. He might struggle with his obligations towards people who have sick pets but cannot afford to pay for veterinary care. Vets also encounter animals who suffer from abuse and neglect.
Treating animals is a physically demanding job, particularly with large animals. Since treatment of a large animal generally requires an out-of-office visit, the vet might end up working in a barn or stable, far away from the sanitary and convenient conditions of a clinic. Regardless of size, a sick animal can also be difficult to control and a vet runs the risk of personal injury and damage to expensive medical equipment. While there are disadvantages to the job, veterinarians find variety in their work and the privilege of working with animals.
Janice Tingum has been writing professionally since 1979. She is the author of the biography "E.B. White: The Elements of a Writer" and her articles have appeared in “Lady’s Circle” and “Today’s Christian Woman” magazines. Tingum also paints and writes art instruction ebooks.