What It Takes to Become Veterinarian

I’ve had many people ask me lately what training is required to become a veterinarian, so I thought I would take this opportunity to briefly go over what it takes.

There is a lot of schooling involved including first an undergraduate degree from a university, and then 4 years at vet school. A Bachelor’s Degree is a 4-year program and can be completed in any discipline, though most vets choose to study science. Once this degree is complete, the application process to vet school begins!

There are 5 vet schools in Canada, which are in Charlottetown, Montreal, Guelph, Saskatoon, and Calgary. In Guelph, the school is the Ontario Veterinary College which graduates 120 new veterinarians each year. The application process to OVC involves a combination of submitting your grades from your undergrad, your reference letters, your background information (volunteer and work experience) as well as an essay on why you want to be a vet.

Once in vet school at OVC, the first 3 years are filled with information on all animal species. Each year there are approximately 10 courses that you take to prepare you for your future. You learn the normal anatomy and physiology of animals as well as histology, cytology and pathology relating to specific organs. You learn what can go wrong with each organ and everything else in the body, and what we can do about it. You even have classes on the art of veterinary medicine so that you also understand everything from industry standards to how to conduct an appointment. You learn the ins and outs of animals and everything in between. It’s a lot of information to cram into 3 years but well worth the effort!

The 4th and final year of vet school at OVC are filled with practical rotations and exams. For the first time in your training, you get to pick your stream: small animal, food animal, equine or mixed. You get to spend time with all the specialty services at OVC and go out into the real world to learn from veterinarians in practice. In between all this amazing learning, you write your board exam and all licensing exams.

Once that is all over, you receive your degree: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. It was the busiest 4 years of my life, and they went by in a flash. At times it seemed overwhelming, but it was worth every minute!

Written by: Dr. Rita Stemeroff, Veterinarian