Veterinary medicine encompasses a very diverse professional field. Although traditionally associated with treating and preventing animal disease, veterinarians are also directly involved in protecting public health. The veterinary field has become very specialized, with most veterinarians choosing to concentrate in areas such as small animal, large animal, food animal, or exotic animal species.
Following completion of pre-veterinary studies, veterinary school is a standard 4-year curriculum. Veterinarians may go directly into practice after veterinary school; internships and residencies are available but not required.
For those who want to become clinical specialists, internships and residencies are available at larger referral centers. Veterinary medical specialties exist in areas such as internal medicine, surgery, ophthalmology, anesthesiology, dentistry, dermatology, theriogenology (reproduction), radiology, toxicology, emergency/critical care, and zoological medicine, to name a few. Specialty boards grant board certification to candidates who successfully complete residencies and pass specialty board examinations.
Opportunities also exist to enter private industry (especially nutrition and pharmaceuticals), food safety, public health/epidemiology, disaster preparedness, government, and military service.