The field of veterinary biomedical studies focuses on the applications of biological and physical sciences to veterinary medicine. Programs include studies of cellular and molecular activities of animal systems and provide an excellent foundation for further study in veterinary practice and research. Read on to see how you can get started in the field.
The application of theoretical biological topics to an undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine should prepare you for professional study at an accredited medical or veterinary school. Master's degree programs are also available. Programs can be designed to meet your interest in concentrations like anatomy and physiology, pathobiology, clinical sciences or veterinary medicine and surgery. You will need to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree to work in the field of veterinary medicine.
In addition to working for a large or small animal veterinary practice, your career choices can include disease research, animal management, biomedical research, nutrition, biotechnology and education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), excellent job opportunities should be available for veterinarians, who are projected to experience an increase in employment of 33% from 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov).
You can expect to work long hours in this profession. As a clinical veterinarian, you should be prepared to deal with emotional pet owners who consider their animals as members of the family. On the other hand, if you choose to concentrate on research, then you will be able to work in an office or laboratory. In May 2010, the BLS reported that veterinarians earned a mean annual wage of $92,570. The tenth percentile in this profession earned an annual wage of $49,910 or less and the 90th percentile earned $145,230 or more.
As an undergraduate studying veterinary medicine, you're expected to complete courses in English, mathematics, statistics and humanities as part of a general education requirement. Health-based sciences such as physiology, anatomy and biochemistry are offered in conjunction with courses of a clinical nature, like pathology, parasitology, virology, bacteriology, toxicology, epidemiology and immunology. Upon completing veterinary medicine classes, you should be prepared to conduct research into disease prevention, treatment and animal genetics.
You could pursue a master's degree in veterinary and biomedical sciences as well. There may be a possibility to conduct research in areas like small animal medicine and surgery, large animal medicine, anatomy and radiology, population health, physiology and pharmacology or pathology. Your core curriculum may include courses in domestic animal dissection, neuroanatomy, mammalian physiology and seminars on how to have a successful career in science. A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in this field would allow you to explore population health or pursue applied clinical research based on your individual goals. You would need to create and defend a dissertation on your research in order to earn this terminal degree.
Another option would be to pursue a combined DVM/MS degree, which would allow you to earn both a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences and a DVM degree that would enable you to pursue a career as a clinical veterinarian. The curriculum for this type of degree program would combine research, laboratory work and clinical training. You can expect courses in physiological chemistry, immunology, physiology and developmental biology. In addition, you're expected to complete animal research, conduct lab meetings and perform independent research that will result in a graduate thesis.