The purpose of this text is to provide information on the veterinary medical education system, residency programs and veterinary medical licensure in

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1 VETERINARY MEDICINE IN THE US The purpose of this text is to provide information on the veterinary medical education system, residency programs and veterinary medical licensure in the United States.

2 Level and length of Veterinary Medical Education In the US it is not possible for a student to start veterinary medical studies after the completion of high school at the undergraduate level. A student must first complete an undergraduate program of at least two years before entering veterinary medical school. Most successful applicants to veterinary programs have completed four years of an undergraduate degree. These undergraduate programs must include courses of animal, physical and biological science. That is followed by a four-year professional program ending in the award of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. At the DVM level, in addition to academic instruction in the biological sciences, students receive training and clinical experience in diagnosing and treating animal diseases, performing surgery, performing laboratory work in biochemistry, anatomy, and other scientific/medical subjects such as organic chemistry and biology with an emphasis on human physiology. Acceptance Rates at US Veterinary Medical Schools The Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has given approval (accreditation) to 27 veterinary schools in the US. The list of accredited schools is available at the American Association of Veterinary Colleges web site: Admission to these schools is extremely competitive as there are approximately 3.5 applicants for every position and successful applicants usually hold grades B or higher, particularly in the sciences. As well as excellent marks in their previous academic instruction, candidates must also have experience working with animals. Because most veterinary schools are state-funded, they usually give preference to applicants from that state, and only 17 of the 27 accredited schools offer a limited number of positions to international applicants. Expenses Tuition and fees at the 27 accredited veterinary schools range from $9,500 to $30,000 for one academic year. The average tuition amount is $15,500 per year. Students must also fund any living expenses. For the full four years of a DVM course, students can expect to pay an average of $62,000 in tuition and fees. Admission to the DVM How to apply There are currently two ways to apply to US veterinary medical schools. If a veterinary medical school is a member of the Veterinary Medical College Admission Service (VMCAS) then you must apply through the VMCAS application service. If a school is not a member of AMCAS, then you need to apply directly to the school. Deadlines for admission to most veterinary colleges fall between October 1 and January 15. Very few universities offer a spring enrollment option. Veterinary Medical College Admission Service (VMCAS) VMCAS is a standardized service for veterinary medical school applications. It allows students to apply to one or more of the participating VMCAS schools with one application packet. Twenty-three of the twentyseven US veterinary schools are members of VMCAS and may not accept applicants not participating in VMCAS. Some VMCAS institutions require a supplemental application and fee in addition to the VMCAS application. To receive a VMCAS application, contact the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (www.aavmc.org/). Visit each school s web site to check the admission requirements

3 The admissions committees of US veterinary medical schools where you apply will consider the following factors: Undergraduate Coursework and Performance The nature of the US undergraduate degree is such that students obtain a strong foundation in the biological sciences, but also take courses in the arts, social sciences and humanities. The majority of US students who intend to apply to veterinary medical schools take their bachelor s degree in biology, chemistry or another science-related subject. In addition to successful completion of required undergraduate coursework, a strong cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) is also necessary. The GPA for the average DVM applicant is about 3.5 in a 4.0 scale (equivalent to a 17 in the Portuguese grading system). A high GPA by itself, however, does not guarantee admission to veterinary medical school. Admission Tests The Test of English as a Foreign Language is required to all students who come from a non-english speaking country. Students must also present scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General test. Some schools accept the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) instead of the GRE general test and other schools require both the GRE general test and the Biology Subject Test. Visit the site for information about GRE general and subject tests and for information about the MCAT. Check at each school s web site which exams are required. Personal Statement This is the chance for you to sell yourself and your abilities to the admissions committee, as well as express your motivation for wanting to attend veterinary medical school. A good essay requires careful planning, reviewing and revision. Letters of recommendation These can be from undergraduate advisers and faculty, members of the veterinary profession, community leaders, and other individuals who have employed you or supervised your volunteer experience. Experience in the veterinary medical field and work with animals This includes extracurricular activities that reflect work experience with animals. Internships or volunteer work at farms, zoos, veterinary clinics, animal hospitals, ranches or other animal-related experience shows that you are genuinely dedicated to the field. Interview with an admissions officer This interview can be used to show the personal characteristics you will bring to the profession. Interviews are held towards the end of the application process and can pose problems for students who apply from abroad. Careers in Veterinary Science and Clinical Specialties Upon completion of a DVM, graduates have the options of sitting for state licensing exams to start practice in veterinary medicine or enrolling a residency program or continuing in academic programs leading to Master s or Ph.D. degrees. Clinically related veterinary specialties require completion of an MS degree at minimum, and several years of specialized training that will lead to certification by a veterinary medical specialty board. Examples of such clinical specialties include the topics of anesthesiology, internal medicine, radiology, surgery and theriogenology. Specialty certification in fields such as ophthalmology, surgery, pathology, radiology or laboratory animal medicine requires a further 3 years of residency training and passing of an examination. Students can pursue advanced postgraduate training in veterinary science leading to an MS or Ph.D. degree in a broad range of subjects. Topic areas include anatomical sciences, biochemistry, - 3 -

4 bioengineering, immunology, microbiology, nuclear medicine, nutrition, parasitology, pathology, pharmacology and physiology, as well as the clinical specialties listed above. Residencies for Foreign Veterinary Graduates The American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (www.craiggroup.com/aavc.htm) has established a Veterinary Internship/Residency Matching Program (VIRMP) to advance postgraduate training in clinical sciences. To determine examination and licensure requirements for the internship/residency programs, you should contact each institution you are applying to. You should also check with the Ordem dos Médicos Veterinários (www.omveterinarios.pt) about which credentials would be recognized on your return home. Residency programs do not offer degrees and you may want to consider obtaining certification from the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians for recognition of veterinary clinical skills. Veterinarians should contact residency programs as early as possible to determine eligibility requirements and institutional employment policies and to request application materials. Applicants should carefully review information to find out deadlines, whether the programs require qualifying examinations and whether the programs require applicants to enroll in the VIRMP. Applicants are responsible for requesting recommendations, arranging transcripts and forwarding materials directly to each program by the established deadline. A transcript is a record of veterinary medical education including grades achieved, and must be provided by the applicant s veterinary medical school. Foreign veterinary medical graduates can apply to the VIRMP without having completed the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE), however some of the programs may have the exam listed as qualifying requirement. Foreign veterinary graduates who ultimately intend to practice in the US should complete an ECFVG Certificate. See more information below. Licensure for Foreign Veterinary Graduates The first step is to contact the state board of veterinary medicine for the state in which you plan to practice. All but six veterinary state licensing boards require foreign veterinary medical graduates to be certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Veterinary Graduates (ECFVG) as a pre-requisite to obtaining a license to conduct veterinary medical practice in that state. Further information on requirements for the ECFVG exam can be obtained from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) North Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumberg, Illinois US. Tel , Fax: , Veterinary state licensing boards may also require foreign veterinary graduates to complete the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE). For further information regarding the NAVLE, visit the web site A few veterinary state boards may further require a foreign veterinary graduate to take one of two practice-specific disciplinary examinations in the field areas of small animal or equine medicine. Veterinary state licensing boards must be contacted for further information. You can obtain a list of state licensing boards at the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) - PO Box 1702, Jefferson City, Missouri US. Tel: , Fax: ,

5 Additional Resources See the presentations about undergraduate and graduate studies in the US at See a table of the US Educational system at. You can also read the following books at the Fulbright Information Center: Graduate Programs in Business, Education, Health, Information Studies, Law and Social Work 2005, Peterson s Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements 2003, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges Occupational Outlook Handbook, US Department of Labor. Also available at: This text was adapted from the information available at the US-UK Fulbright Commission s web site

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