Introduction

For one to qualify to be a veterinarian, the student needs to have both a strong track record in the sciences and a sharp analytical mind. A veterinarian is defined as a doctor of veterinary medicine, a professional in animal health care, and one who has completed a degree at a veterinary college.

Like most of the careers in the field of medical science, becoming a veterinary technician takes years of educations and practical hands-on experience. Usually, one can take a minimum of 4 years to start his or her own practice, but depending on the certifications one is trying to acquire it can take more time.

Even though a lot of veterinarians practice in small animal and pet clinics, a third of all Canadian veterinarians deal with food-producing animals and in mixed practices. This kind of work comprises the inspection, care, and treatment of farm livestock as well as pets.

Other veterinarians monitor the health of birds, fish, and reptiles, while others dedicate themselves to research, administration, teaching, or government work related to the welfare and care of different animals.

Is it hard to become a vet in Canada?

The Application Process

If you want to save both time and money, then you should go to an accredited school. It is advisable that one contacts the respective Veterinary College admission offices in order to obtain complete information about the application process to Veterinary Colleges in Canada, including an outline of admission requirements, scholarship and bursary information.

In Canada alone, there are a number of Veterinary Colleges one could choose from, including the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island, the University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and the Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire at the Université de Montréal.

Admission Requirements

Though not a requirement, it is advisable to obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree prior to attending Veterinary School since most programs have pretty strict course requirements. This can be done by reviewing individual school websites to research their specific prerequisites.

A four-year science degree is highly likely to ensure the necessary understanding of key components, but also a three-year degree would suffice. As an alternative, you can also endeavor to earn an associate’s degree related to animal health care. It usually takes 2 years to get your associate’s degree which would considerably reduce the time required to achieve your degree.

In extremely rare cases, people do not possess any of the above-mentioned qualifications. This means that they will try and complete their pre-requisite courses in Veterinary School directly which in turn saves them a lot of time. The workload in these scenarios however is considerably higher.

Once you get your bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree, you qualify to apply to a veterinary school for a doctorate degree. This usually takes up to 4 years. The first 3 years are spent in covering the theoretical parts of veterinary medicine while the last year focuses on the practical side of it.

Some vet schools prefer to offer 2 years of theoretical training and 2 years of hands-on training which involves working directly with animals.  In order to be certified as a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM), the successful completion of a minimum of six years of university education is required.

Veterinarians may also specialize in their studies in areas such as surgery, nutrition, dentistry, ultrasound, radiology, oncology, epidemiology, cardiology, ophthalmology and dermatology, et cetera.

Gather Veterinary and Animal Experience

As you get closer to applying to vet school, it is imperative to gain as much animal experience as you can, particularly under the supervision of a veterinarian.  Although schools don’t specify a minimum number of hours applicants have to complete, many of them will provide a general overview of their website.

Gathering experience isn’t just about demonstrating your abilities. One way you could demonstrate your abilities and also your dedication to veterinary medicine is by gathering as much experience as you can. Being able to see both the positive and negative parts of the job will help you assist you in making an informed decision about your career path.

Select Schools That Address Specific Admission Requirements

Since each program has slightly different admission requirements, you should start researching the program of choice well before applying. This can be done in several ways including obtaining letters of recommendation, completing the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and meeting minimum grade expectations.

A helpful resource that you can employ is the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC). This allows you to compare programs, even schools in Canada and other international locations, but it’s always a good idea to visit individual school websites to make sure you cover all of your bases.

It is advisable to attend a fully accredited international program since a school’s accreditation status may affect your licensure process later on. After passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), one will be eligible to seek licensure in Canada or even the US.

Obtaining Your DVM

After receiving an acceptance letter or two, you should make your final decision and enroll at a veterinary school. And though programs vary, you should hope to spend four years completing basic sciences courses and acquiring clinical experience.

The final year of veterinary school will be focused on completing clinical rotations. These rotations provide you with the hands-on training that you’ll need to begin practicing after graduating with a degree in doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM).

Receiving Your Certificate of Qualification (CQ)

In order to become licensed, every veterinary graduate must obtain a Certificate of Qualification, but this process can vary. Upon passing the NAVLE, students who earn their DVM via an accredited program can get their CQ. On the other hand, those who attend a non-accredited institution need to pass the Basic and Clinical Sciences Examinations (BCSE), the Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE), and the NAVLE.

Students who need to complete extra steps need to know that preparation is the key. Grads are required to successfully pass the NAVLE within two attempts failed to which they are required to then complete the CPE regardless of whether they attended an accredited program.

In order to pass, practice is more important for the CPE, because you have to be really comfortable with the techniques. Before attempting this exam, you will need to spend time in a veterinary practice if you didn’t get enough of this in veterinary school.

Licensure

For you to earn the right to practice medicine by yourself after graduating from an accredited veterinary school, you are mandated to take the licensing exam. It is advisable to take the time to prepare for this test. You can also try to give this test prior to your graduation.

You can also give the test about 8 months before your graduation date if you are studying at an accredited vet school. This allows you to start practicing medicine as a vet tech as soon as you graduate.

After obtaining your CQ, you’ll need to address provincial licensing requirements. Since each province is different, you’ll have to pay a fee and fill out paperwork, but you could also be responsible for additional materials. In Alberta, you’ll need to provide contact information for three references to obtain a license. You’ll need to pass the Jurisprudence Exam to practice in Ontario.

The system of licensure in North America is based heavily on the generalist model. It makes most sense to get licensing requirements soon after graduating from a generalist program. Grads are likely going to be more familiar with procedures like spaying when they’re fresh out of veterinary school.

Internship

After getting licensed, it is highly recommended to intern for at least one year under some vet tech before they start practicing medicine. This will give you more experience in the field and help you learn about more procedures that may be of help to you later in the practice.

Specializations

In order to specialize in an area of veterinary medicine, you are most likely to pursue, you’ll need to complete a residency first. You can find out what opportunities are available by going through the Veterinary Internship & Residency Matching Program. Examples of these fields include anesthesia, behavior, zoology, surgery, and dermatology.

For one to become a specialist, the time required may vary from individual to individual. A specialized vet earns more than a general practitioner. Before pursuing specialty training, it’s important to ensure that you understand all province-specific licensure requirements.

A number of residency programs might require that you meet some prerequisites, for example, some may specify that you must already be licensed in that geographical area. Others may also need you to complete a preliminary internship specific to your area of interest

Start Your Career

Before you settle on the type of veterinarian you’d want to be, you might want to spend time researching out to different career options and then also to your network.

You may want to reach out to course instructors, or also vets that you worked with while obtaining school experience and perhaps those you encountered via professional organizations. Another area you could also explore to find job opportunities in Canada is the classified ads from the Canadian Veterinary Journal.

Conclusion

Aside from the outline of conventional ways of becoming a veterinary technician, one might choose to scale up the ladder from being a veterinary assistant. But even in this case, a bachelor’s degree is a must. Although it varies from person to person, on average, it can take about 9 years for a person to become a veterinarian. If someone needs to prepare a bit more for the licensure exam, this might cause them to take a bit longer. One might also want to intern for extended periods of time or specialize in a given field.

Though the roots might be bitter, the fruit from all your hard work is a sweet one. After all this training, the average veterinarian earns up to $100,000, but this depends on the experience and the location of where they practices. In addition to this, you get to enjoy the company of friendly, kind, and loveable animals all day long, every day. This makes it all worth it.

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Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I’ve been writing articles for more than 10 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I’m currently writing for many websites and newspaper. All my ideas come from my very active lifestyle. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. In all my years as computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. I believe that any information should be free, we want to know more every day because we learn everyday. You can contact me on our forum or by email at: info@sind.ca.

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