Are you an animal lover? Do you have a scientific bent of mind? A career as a veterinarian can be a fulfilling and rewarding. There is a dire need of veterinarians in India. This article by Careers360 on ‘Career as a Veterinarian’ can help you guide your way to a successful career as a vet. Two middle-aged men stand cradling a young kitten outside a clinic at the Bombay Veterinary College (BVC), Mumbai. People with puppies, large dogs and perhaps even a goat have stood in line, waiting for a veterinarian to ease their beloved pet’s troubles, and ailments. “They have taken time out of their lives to bring that kitten to the able hands of a veterinarian. You have to value that kitten’s life. It is the duty of a vet to empathise and act immediately,” believes Dr. Dinesh Lokhande, Associate Professor, Department of Surgery and Radiology, BVC. Being able to help in such a situation, career as a veterinarian brings him a great sense of love and fulfilment.
From the pet dogs that give us a loving home to return to, the mighty cats that rule the animal kingdom, the sniffer dogs that keep threats at bay and the cows that nourish us with fresh milk, animals are a beautiful and vital part of our lives and this planet that we call earth. But when they are in trouble or have any ailment, who is going to ease their suffering? It is a veterinarian who looks after the health and welfare of animals, from species as far and wide as domestic pets to wild animals.
Be your own boss
So, who is a vet? How is career as a veterinarian? For most people, the idea of a vet is simply the doctor they take their pets to. These vets diagnose and treat diseases and injuries, perform surgery and maintain the overall health of small pets animals like dogs, cats, etc. Private practices are indeed mushrooming in response to increased demand today, but that is just one of the popular paths for a vet.
“There is tremendous scope for private practice in career as a vet. No doubt, it is big in metropolitan cities, but there is a misconception that it is limited to that. Today, a veterinarian is needed everywhere, from villages to cities! Sky is the limit in veterinary science,” suggests Dr. Lokhande. The scope for entrepreneurship is very high. Vets can set up their own consultancies, clinics, labs and businesses. Even abroad, veterinarian jobs are in great demand.
Beyond pets and into the wild
“If you consider urban students, they are attracted toward private small animal practice. But the large animal sector, dairy and poultry industry, also require talent,” says Dr. Rajiv V. Gaikwad, Professor and Hospital Superintendent, Bombay Veterinary College, Mumbai, noting that there is much more to veterinary science than pets. Dr. V. M. Patil, a veterinarian in Mumbai, adds, “Students should be interested in taking up large animal practice because that is the intention of our government, to uplift the rural areas. There are very few professional practitioners in this sector, so there is a large scope.” Even at the grass-root level, vets are needed. Farmers who rear sheep, poultry, etc., depend on animals for their livelihoods.
A veterinarian has a role to play in a host of exciting and unexpected fields from sports to military forces. In fact, there is a special veterinary team handling the health of horses for the Indian Republic Day parade!
Career as a vet can be adventurous too. They can look forward to exciting work in zoos, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. Wildlife preservation is also one of the important roles of a veterinarian. Not only for treatment, but to ensure proper preservation. Second year student of Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry (B.V.Sc. & A.H.) at BVC, Sagun M. Bhatjiwale, is one such ambitious youngster, poised to change the world. “I love animals. I wanted to do something for them. If you see, there are not enough people to help them in India, at least. The condition of strays is pitiable. I wanted to help them, treat them, look after them, and make a difference. I want to go into wildlife veterinary medicine. To curb hunting and promote conservation, preservation, management,” says Bhatjiwale.
No dearth of government & private sector jobs for Veterinarians
Both government and private sector have plenty of jobs for veterinarians. Defence services like the Border Security Force, Remote Veterinary Corps and police forces use dogs, horses and camels for security and transport purposes. So vets are needed here as well. A number of government bodies like the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agriculture, animal husbandry departments, disease investigation and control centres, public health laboratories for examination of meat, state vet farms, state vet hospitals are some of the places a vet could find a suitable position.
A graduate of veterinary science can take up academic and research positions in various institutes. In the time of major scientific innovation, research is the need of the hour. A veterinarian can be a part of groundbreaking research teams, finding cures for diseases like Ebola. National and multi-national pharmaceutical companies are also major recruiters of veterinary science graduates. Students can join commercial dairy, poultry farms or hatcheries, slaughter houses, biological production units developing vaccines, equine race clubs, farms and many more areas where animals are present.
Characteristics of a good Veterinarian
Naturally, career as a veterinarian should be chosen by someone with love for animals as he/she would make a good fit. But remember, animals come in all shapes and sizes. If you like dogs but are scared of cats, you might want to reconsider. A genuine sense of passion and compassion for animals both big and small will go a long way in paving a rewarding career. Becoming a vet means caring for someone who cannot even speak. Through keen observation, patience and attention, a vet can begin to understand the problems an animal cannot express. Empathy is key to solving these with the right course of treatments and therapies and medicines.
You also have to think whether you can meet the physical demands of the veterinary profession. Tasks like administering injections to large, distressed animals and performing surgery on small animals can be tricky. Someone with a strong mind and able hands can handle challenging situations with ease.
Challenges faced by Veterinarians
Dealing with animals can be difficult at times, but dealing with their owners can be more tricky. To practise as a veterinarian, one requires a lot of patience and sensitivity. Good communication skills can help pacify a worried owner and accurately relay information to them and other doctors.
Of course, knowledge is crucial. Besides a scientific understanding of the domain, understanding animal behaviour is equally important. A good vet will always stay updated. Practicing vets should take up continued education programmes from time to time. Like all medical professions, vets are unlikely to have a typical nine-to-five job. They can be expected to work long hours and weekends. It is not unusual to be called upon at odd hours of the day and night in times of emergency. A vet should always be ready for the job. “It is not an easy job. You need love and compassion. For diagnosis, you have to be attentive, observant and highly intelligent and knowledgeable, because you are dealing with a being who cannot even speak,” sums up Dr. Lokhande.
Courses to pursue for a Career as a Veterinarian
The Veterinary Council of India is the governing body for all courses. A unique syllabus has been rolled out for vets in India with Bachelor of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry (B.V.Sc. & A.H.) courses spanning five and a half years starting 2018. Along with Bombay Veterinary College, some of the other good vet schools include Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University etc. Students can then go in for a two-year Master’s degree. A Ph.D. typically takes three years, and is offered by only a few institutes in India.
Select Institutes for Veterinary Sciences
Bombay Veterinary College, Mumbai
Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University
Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat
Bihar Veterinary College, Patna
College of Veterinary and Animal sciences, Bikaner
Birsa Agricultural University, Ranchi
Salary of a Veterinarian
The salary spectrum for someone who chooses career as a veterinarian can be quite wide. “Beginners could get around Rs. 30,000 a month. In private, they could earn even upto 8-10 lakhs a year. There is a lot of scope in this field to earn a good living, and at the same time, fulfil your love for animals. Job satisfaction is very high,” says Dr. Lokhande.