Ever wonder how discoveries are made that help to cure our pets of sometimes fatal diseases? That is one of the jobs of a veterinary pathologist; to examine fluids and tissue of animals that are sick to determine the cause and possible cure for the disease.
A veterinary pathologist usually comes to that career path through many years of schooling and working as a veterinarian. Anyone who decides to work with animals will benefit from working with them at as early an age as possible, which means volunteer work for young people. Young students can volunteer at the local animal shelter or a zoo, and if in a more rural setting possibly a farm which will enable them to become familiar working with animals of all types and sizes. This knowledge will help them to understand more thoroughly the formal education in veterinary care that will come later, and also help them to decide if a career in animal care is right for them.
Most who are interested in entering the field of veterinary work will start out as a veterinary assistant, then a veterinary technician, working their way up to a veterinarian with years of schooling and experience. At the level of veterinarian a person will know the ins and outs of animal health care; they will be able to explain things such as why a cat kneads or why a dog turns in circles before lying down. Of course not all questions will be as easy as “why does my cat eat grass?” Many pet owners will be bringing animals into the office or clinic that are seriously ill and require samples to be taken to determine the cause of their illness. This is where the veterinary pathologist comes into the picture.
An individual who wishes to become a veterinary pathologist will need to first earn their D.V.M. or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine which can take approximately four years. Once that is accomplished the individual will go on to complete a postdoctoral program in pathology, either clinical or anatomical. Programs like there typically take place in a teaching hospital or in a research facility. Some of the research conducted may include the nervous system, immune system, the reproductive or cardiovascular systems, and pulmonary systems pathology. There may also be study in viral pathogenesis, cancer biology, toxicological and infectious diseases pathology. These programs take approximately three years to complete which usually includes a residency. If an individual wishes to pursue their schooling to the PhD level the student will be required to complete a dissertation, while a Masters program typically does not have this requirement. Finally, once school and residency programs are completed exams must be successfully passed for licensure and certifications. As with most programs, licensing requirements vary from state to state so it is best to check with the state in which you wish to practice before committing to a particular school.
If you have a love of animals and enough empathy to deal with their human companions then a career in veterinary care may be for you. There are several schools across the country that specialize in veterinary training and finding one is as easy as turning on a computer or opening a phone book.