How to Become a Veterinarian

So you want to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine. What exactly is the process? How did I gear my courses towards this goal?

Having a background in human medicine, I decided after five years of working that I would pursue my dream career in veterinary medicine. I applied to university (yet again,) and started to research the pathway needed to gain acceptance to one of FIVE (yes, only five) Doctorate of Veterinary medicine programs in Canada.

Upon this research, I found that there are a few general areas that you need to focus your degree on to move onto the interview phase of the application. First, let’s talk about the academic requirements. For this blog, I’m going to focus on Guelph’s DVM program, but if you’re interested in looking at other programs, please do so! They may differ slightly in academic requirements.

You need eight prerequisite courses to be considered. They are as follows:

1. Two biological sciences (with recommended emphasis on animal biology) – 1 credit
2. Cell Biology – 0.5 credits
3. Genetics – 0.5 credits
4. Biochemistry – 0.5 credits
5. Statistics – 0.5 credits
6. Two Humanities/social sciences – 1 credit (Consider topics such as ethics, logic, critical thinking, determinants of human behaviour and human social interaction).

Be sure to look online to see if courses from whichever university that you’re applying from matches Guelph’s criteria to see if it is eligible for transferring credits. You can also submit a transcript evaluation ahead of time to see if the courses you are going to take qualify.

Alongside academic requirements, experience within a clinical veterinary setting is a must, as you need to have two professional veterinary supervisory references along with one professional reference (not a family member or close friend). It also is very beneficial to get a diverse experience with different species of animals (large breeds, companions, wildlife).

The minimum requirement needed is two years of full-time postsecondary education with all prerequisites completed. However, it is recommended that you complete an entire 4-year bachelor degree. This degree could be any degree type.

Now, this seems like a hefty process, however, even asking your local vets (or family vet) about volunteer opportunities can open some doors! Veterinary clinics are always busy, and they usually need volunteers to help with all types of tasks. It’s really about putting yourself out there and being eager to learn, to make mistakes and ask questions. This is what leads you to your rewarding career in veterinary medicine. There are also many postgraduate (doctorate) programs you can do to specialize in a specific area that interests you!

Additionally, contacting the university that houses the program that you’re interested in may help, as they can offer guidance and are really supportive of academic planning.

Written by Kayla Gammon, Volunteer