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A veterinarian (vet), also known as a veterinary surgeon or veterinary physician, is a professional who practices veterinary medicine by treating diseases, disorders, and injuries in non-human animals.

Description


In many countries, the local nomenclature for a veterinarian is a regulated and protected term, meaning that members of the public without the prerequisite qualifications and/or licensure are not able to use the title.

Most veterinary physicians work in clinical settings, treating animals directly.

Etymology and nomenclature


The word "veterinary" comes from the Latin veterinae meaning "working animals". "Veterinarian" was first used in print by Thomas Browne in 1646.[3] Although "vet" is commonly used as an abbreviation everywhere, the occupation is formally referred to as a veterinary surgeon in the United Kingdom and Ireland and now as a veterinarian in most of the rest of the English-speaking world.

History


Ancient Indian sage and veterinary physician Shalihotra (mythological estimate c. 2350 BCE), the son of a Brahmin sage, Hayagosha, is considered the founder of veterinary sciences.[4]

The first veterinary college was founded in Lyon, France in 1762 by Claude Bourgelat.[5] According to Lupton, after observing the devastation being caused by cattle plague to the French herds, Bourgelat devoted his time to seeking out a remedy. This resulted in his founding a veterinary college in Lyon in 1761, from which establishment he dispatched students to combat the disease; in a short time, the plague was stayed and the health of stock restored, through the assistance rendered to agriculture by veterinary science and art.[6]

The Odiham Agricultural Society was founded in 1783 in England to promote agriculture and industry,[7]From%20Farriery%20to%20Veterinary%20Med]]From%20Farriery%20to%20Veterinary%20Med]]nd played an important role in the foundation of the veterinary profession in Britain.

The professionalization of the veterinary trade was finally achieved in 1790, through the campaigning of Granville Penn, who persuaded the Frenchman Benoit Vial de St. Bel to accept the professorship of the newly established Veterinary College in London.[7] The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons was established by royal charter in 1844.

Veterinary science came of age in the late 19th century, with notable contributions from Sir John McFadyean, credited by many as having been the founder of modern Veterinary research.[9]

Roles and responsibilities


Veterinarians treat disease, disorder or injury in animals, which includes diagnosis, treatment and aftercare. The scope of practice, specialty and experience of the individual veterinarian will dictate exactly what interventions they perform, but most will perform surgery (of differing complexity).

Unlike in human medicine, veterinarians must rely primarily on clinical signs, as animals are unable to vocalize symptoms as a human would. In some cases, owners may be able to provide a medical history and the veterinarian can combine this information along with observations, and the results of pertinent diagnostic tests such as radiography, CT scans, MRI, blood tests, urinalysis and others.

Veterinarians must consider the appropriateness of euthanasia ("putting to sleep") if a condition is likely to leave the animal in pain or with a poor quality of life, or if treatment of a condition is likely to cause more harm to the patient than good, or if the patient is unlikely to survive any treatment regimen. Additionally, there are scenarios where euthanasia is considered due to the constrains of the client's finances.

As with human medicine, much veterinary work is concerned with prophylactic treatment, in order to prevent problems occurring in the future. Common interventions include vaccination against common animal illnesses, such as distemper or rabies, and dental prophylaxis to prevent or inhibit dental disease. This may also involve owner education so as to avoid future medical or behavioral issues.

Additionally veterinarians have important roles in public health and the prevention of zoonoses.[10]

Employment


The majority of veterinarians are employed in private practice treating animals (75% of vets in the United States, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association).[11]

Small animal veterinarians typically work in veterinary clinics, veterinary hospitals, or both.

Other employers include charities treating animals, colleges of veterinary medicine, research laboratories, animal food companies, and pharmaceutical companies. In many countries, the government may also be a major employer of veterinarians, such as the United States Department of Agriculture or the Animal and Plant Health Agency in the United Kingdom. State and local governments also employ veterinarians.[12][13]

Veterinarians and their practices may be specialized in certain areas of veterinary medicine.

  • Exotic animal veterinarian – Generally considered to include reptiles, exotic birds such as parrots and cockatoos, and small mammals such as ferrets, rabbits, chinchillas, and degus.
  • Conservation medicine – The study of the relationship between animal and human health and environmental information.
  • Small animal practice – Usually dogs, cats, and other companion animals/household pets such as hamsters and gerbils. Some practices are canine-only or feline-only practices.
  • Laboratory animal practice – Some veterinarians work in a university or industrial laboratory and are responsible for the care and treatment of laboratory animals of any species (often involving bovines, porcine species, felines, canines, rodents, and even exotic animals). Their responsibility is not only for the health and well being of the animals, but also for enforcing humane and ethical treatment of the animals in the facility.
  • Large animal practice – Usually referring to veterinarians that work with, variously, livestock and other large farm animals, as well as equine species and large reptiles.
  • Equine medicine – Some veterinarians are specialists in equine medicine.
  • Food supply medicine – Some veterinarians deal exclusively or primarily with animals raised for food (such as meat, milk, and eggs). Livestock practitioners may deal with ovine (sheep), bovine (cattle) and porcine (swine) species; such veterinarians deal with management of herds, nutrition, reproduction, and minor field surgery. Dairy medicine practice focuses on dairy animals. Poultry medicine practice focuses on the health of flocks of poultry; the field often involves extensive training in pathology, epidemiology, and nutrition of birds. The veterinarian treats the flock and not the individual animals.[14]
  • Food safety practice – Veterinarians are employed by both the food industry and government agencies to advise on and monitor the handling, preparation, and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness.
  • Wildlife medicine – A relatively recent branch of veterinary medicine, focusing on wildlife. Wildlife medicine veterinarians may work with zoologists and conservation medicine practitioners and may also be called out to treat marine species such as sea otters, dolphins, or whales after a natural disaster or oil spill.
  • Aquatic medicine – mostly refers to veterinary care of fish in aquaculture (like salmon, cod, among other species), but can also include care of aquatic mammals.
  • Dentistry – Many practices are incorporating dentistry into their daily medical services.

Veterinary specialists are in the minority compared to general practice veterinarians, and tend to be based at points of referral, such as veterinary schools or larger animal hospitals.

Veterinary specialties are accredited in North America by the AVMA through the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, in Europe by the European Board of Veterinary Specialisation and in Australasia by the Australasian Veterinary Boards Council.

Specialties can cover general topics such as anesthesiology, dentistry, and surgery, as well as organ system focus such as cardiology or dermatology. A full list can be seen at veterinary specialties.

Some of the advantages of operating a mobile veterinary practice over a standard practice are the start-up and operating costs.

The median salary for veterinarians in 2018 was $93,830 in the United States according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the lowest paid earned less than $56,540 annually.[17] States and districts with the highest mean salary are Hawaii ($198,340), District of Columbia ($125,100), New Jersey ($124,870), New York ($122,500), and Nevada ($121,150).[18]

The average income for a private practice associate in the United States was $158,000 in 2013.

The financial rewards for veterinary specialists proved impressive in a 2015 compensation survey sent to veterinarians in the US.

Education and regulation


In order to practice, vets must complete both an appropriate degree in veterinary medicine, and in most cases must be registered with the relevant governing body for their jurisdiction.

Degrees in veterinary medicine culminate in the award of a veterinary science degree, although the title varies by region.

The award of a bachelor's degree was previously commonplace in the United States, but the degree name and academic standards were upgraded to match the 'doctor' title used by graduates.

Comparatively few universities have veterinary schools that offer degrees which are accredited to qualify the graduates as registered vets. For example, there are 30 in the United States, 5 in Canada, and 8 in the United Kingdom (3 of which offer degrees accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)).[24]

Due to this scarcity of places for veterinary degrees, admission to veterinary school is competitive and requires extensive preparation.

With competitive admission, many schools may place heavy emphasis and consideration on a candidate's veterinary and animal experience.

In the United States, approximately 80% of admitted students are female.

Preveterinary courses should emphasize the sciences.

Following academic education, most countries require a vet to be registered with the relevant governing body, and to maintain this license to practice.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinarians must be licensed to practice in the United States.[27] Licensing entails passing an accredited program, a national exam, and a state exam.

The percentage electing to undertake further study following registration in the United States has increased from 36.8% to 39.9% in 2008.

Source:[31]

The first two-year curriculum in both veterinary and human medical schools are very similar in the course names, but at certain subjects relatively different in content.

Some veterinary school uses the same biochemistry, histology, and microbiology books as human medicine students; however, the course content is greatly supplemented to include the varied animal diseases and species specific differences.

The last two year curriculum of the two fields are similar only in their clinical emphasis.[32] A veterinary student must be well prepared to be a fully functional animal physician on the day of graduation, competent in both surgery and medicine.

In the last years, curricula in both human and veterinary medicine have been adapted with the aim of incorporating competency-based teaching[33][34] Furthermore, the importance of institutionalized systematic teacher feedback has been recognized and tools such as clinical encounter cards are being implemented in clinical veterinary education.[35]

Impact on human medicine


Some veterinarians pursue post-graduate training and enter research careers and have contributed to advances in many human and veterinary medical fields, including pharmacology and epidemiology. Research veterinarians were the first to isolate oncoviruses, Salmonella species, Brucella species, and various other pathogenic agents. Veterinarians were in the forefront in the effort to suppress malaria and yellow fever in the United States. Veterinarians identified the botulism disease-causing agent, produced an anticoagulant used to treat human heart disease, and developed surgical techniques for humans, such as hip-joint replacement, limb and organ transplants.

In popular culture


Reality televisions shows featuring veterinarians include:

Fictional works featuring a veterinarian as the main protagonist include:

Veterinary malpractice


Most states in the US allow for malpractice lawsuit in case of death or injury to an animal from professional negligence.

Criticisms


Concerns about the role of veterinary physicians in helping health threats survive and spread have been raised by several commentators, particularly with respect to pedigree dogs.

See also


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