Doctors of Veterinary Medicine are medical professionals, whose primary responsibility is protecting the health and welfare of animals. Veterinarians diagnose and control animal disease, treat sick and injured animals, prevent the transmission of diseases between animals and people, and advise owners on proper care of pets, working animals and livestock. They ensure a safe food supply by maintaining the health of livestock together with inspecting meat and poultry products.
2011 was a special year for veterinary organisations and institutions all around the world. It was designated World Veterinary Year in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the formal existence of veterinary training and the organised veterinary profession.
The practice of veterinary medicine is changing. In addition to applying new technology to the care of animals, Veterinarians help to preserve endangered species, provide high standards of care for laboratory animals, and carry out high-quality research to solve problems of animal disease while contributing to the resolution of human health problems.
There are around 1,900 Vets registered in the State - some twelve to thirteen hundred of which are in private practice. There are also 330 State vets, about 30 local authority vets, 20 to 30 in industry and a small number in teaching and research in the veterinary faculty in UCD. The latest Census results recorded strong employment growth in the period for the veterinary sector, where the number of people at work rose by over one third to 3,284.
The Veterinary Nurse
One option that can be satisfying for someone who really wants to be involved in veterinary medicine but does not obtain the very high Leaving Cert points required for the UCD course is to become a Veterinary Technician or Nurse. The growth in scale, demands and sophistication of veterinary practices has created a significant market for the services of veterinary nurses.
Certified Veterinary Technicians or Nurses perform many lab procedures, aid in physical examination and restraint of pets during veterinary visits, perform dental cleaning procedures, help with surgeries, monitor anaesthesia and do many other things that people often think of as the Veterinarian's job. The college courses for this career usually take two to four years.
Currently, and for the foreseeable future, employment prospects for Veterinary Nurses are excellent. As with all animal related work, it is crucial that you are dedicated, committed and that you don’t suffer from animal allergies. Working hours are unpredictable and varied and you will probably be required to work or be on call at weekends and evenings.
Getting into Veterinary Practice
The only veterinary course within the State is the degree in Veterinary Medicine at UCD. Applicants should make sure they know exactly what they're getting into. It's important for any prospective candidtaes to talk to vets who are in practice and dispel any romantic notions that they might have.
However he says the job prospects for Vets are promising. "The career requires a high level of commitment, but there are great opportunities and virtually full employment". View UCD Veterinary Medicine video here.
Mandatory continuing veterinary education (CVE) was introduced in 2012 for all registered vets to ensure that they remain up to date with current developments and offer reassurance to owners that their animals are receiving optimal veterinary care. View UCD Graduate Certificate in Equine Sports video here.
Alternatively you could consider a Degree in Bioscience/Animal Science. A Veterinary Bioscience degree involves studies in the structure and function of animals, their management and welfare in an agricultural, para-veterinary, laboratory or wildlife context.
As an Animal and Veterinary Bioscience student you would learn how to apply the knowledge and principles of science to the understanding and management of the production, processing and marketing of animal products and to the management and conservation of our natural resources, including native and endangered species. A degree in this field provides good prospects for careers in the animal industries, and animal and biomedical research.
Animal Science graduates have been highly successful in gaining employment in a wide variety of areas. These include: advisory and research, animal feed industry, procurement, processing and marketing of animal products, second-level and agricultural education, private consultancy, farming and enterprise management.
In recent years, employment opportunities have risen in both the public service and private industry. The Animal Science qualification is also very suitable if you intend combining a professional career with part-time farming.