How to Prepare for a Career in Veterinary Medicine

Get Started in High School

For a career in veterinary medicine, a high school student should develop a strong background in biology, chemistry, and physics. Courses in English, social science, and speech are also necessary since interpersonal and professional communications skills are important assets in veterinary medicine. Like most professions, veterinary medicine is very much a "people business." The most successful veterinarians are competent doctors as well as good communicators.

Practical experience with animals is very important. Students should spend time volunteering for or working with veterinarians to develop an understanding of the profession. Non-veterinary animal experience may also be beneficial to students interested in veterinary medicine.

Pre-Veterinary College Coursework

No specific undergraduate program is preferred at Oregon State University, but students must complete a set of pre-veterinary requirements in chemistry, physics, mathematics, statistics, biology, genetics, physiology, and additional biological sciences. Courses in English, public speaking and humanities/social sciences are also required.

Many students choose an animal science or biological science major because these bachelor's degree programs generally include most of the pre-veterinary requirements. Also, some of these programs allow students accepted into the DVM program after their junior year to apply credits earned in their first year of veterinary study toward completing a bachelor's degree.

Students interested in veterinary medicine, should consult with a pre-veterinary medicine adviser when planning their undergraduate program. Oregon State University students may choose to contact one of the OSU pre-veterinary medicine advisers.