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September 16, 2011 > Veterinary & Pet News: So your kid wants to be a veterinarian?

Veterinary & Pet News: So your kid wants to be a veterinarian?

"The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can't ask his patients what is the matter - he's got to just know." - Will Rogers

Hardly a week goes by without a client or friend telling me that their child wants to be a veterinarian. To bolster the case for why they think their child will be an excellent veterinarian, the parent will rattle off all of the great contributions that their child has done to help save animals, or assist in their care.

I can readily relate to these kids who are passionate about becoming veterinarians. The love of the profession started early for me too; at the age of seven. I would research and write reports and presentations about the history of veterinary medicine and the contributions of animals. It was a craze and love of animals that drove me to this profession.

I would recommend that anyone who wants to be a veterinarian (or any profession for that matter) immerse themselves in learning everything and anything about the profession. It should start with the study of animals. Veterinarians, especially the good ones, really understand animals. They know how they behave when they are happy and when they are upset. I spent many years just learning about how to care for them, walking them, and learning how to properly restrain them.

Besides the love and concern for animals, future veterinarians must love academics, especially science and math. Getting into veterinary school is very difficult due to limited number of veterinary schools in the country and the popularity of the profession.

An undergraduate program consisting of four years comprises of lot of science and math classes along with basic courses. Ideally, one should strive for a GPA of 3.5 or above to be considered a good candidate for veterinary school.

In addition, students must have demonstrated many hours of work at a veterinary hospital to be considered for veterinary schools. A good veterinarian loves animals, but doesn't allow that love to get in the way of what is best for that animal. To love an animal requires that you are able to care for and do what is best for them regardless of your personal wishes. In some cases, that can involve euthanasia when you know that a pet is suffering from a disease or in pain.

Other times, that may require causing discomfort or a "small amount of hurt" to treat a patient. Having this level of fortitude is essential to become a successful veterinarian. Many just can't do this, and will compromise with the idea that they will care for animals, but not as a veterinarian... and there is nothing wrong with that.

Veterinary school is a four year program covering many species from dogs and cats to cow, sheep, horses, birds, and small mammals. After completing veterinary school, one can take the national board and state board examinations to obtain a license to practice veterinary medicine.

If one has the desire to become a veterinarian, he or she will invariably achieve that goal if dedicated, persistent, and willing to make small sacrifices to achieve this.

Dr Raj Salwan is a second generation Veterinarian and has been around Veterinary Medicine for over 23 years. His interests include Internal Medicine, Surgery, Emergency/Acute Care, and general small animal practice. He currently works at American Animal Care in Fremont and can be reached via email at or

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