Breathe New Life Into Your Veterinary Career
So, it’s been about a decade since you graduated near the top of your Class in veterinary school, and five years since you really started hitting your professional stride. That’s great, but there’s something about going to work every day which is beginning to wear on you: there are just no surprises any more.
It seems like every day there’s the dog who ate the wrong thing, the cat who is coughing up too many hairballs, or the lizard who’s suddenly lethargic. It’s not that you don’t care about these cherished pets, or about their owners’ peace of mind. It’s just that, after a few years of this, you feel yourself looking for something new: new challenges, new procedures and new ways to learn and grow.
It’s Not Too Late to Refresh Your Veterinary Career
If you think, “well, I made my bed, so I guess now I have to lie in it,” think again. You don’t need to give up your veterinary career to change what it is you do every day, and your training doesn’t need to stop. If you’re willing to go back to school (which could be quite an adventure in its own right), you’ll find a host of interesting (and in some cases surprising) veterinary specialties to jump start your veterinary career, including the following eight:
From Your Heart to Theirs
Animals, like people, sometimes suffer from cardiological problems and need the help of a veterinarian with specialized training in this area. As a veterinary cardiologist, you’ll become an expert in treating heart conditions. You’ll learn how to diagnose problems with the heart muscle, identify instances of heart valve damage, manage critical respiratory problems, and treat congenital heart diseases. Achieving specialization in cardiology will require about 7 to 9 years of academic and clinical training.
Putting Your Love and Caring to Best Use
There are many reasons people decide to pursue a veterinary career, but for many, the reason is their love of animals and desire to alleviate their suffering. If you’re motivated by a desire to help animals in this way, you might consider a career in animal welfare.
As an animal welfare specialist, you’ll work on a wide variety of issues, everything from creating more humane methods in slaughterhouses to rehabilitating injured wildlife. You can even become board certified from the American College of Animal Welfare.
Sink Your Teeth into Your Veterinary Career
In your work as a vet, you sometimes encounter a dog or cat suffering from dental problems, like broken teeth and issues with oral hygiene. You’ve also seen the relief those pets experience when their problems (which are often quite painful) are resolved. If you’re willing to put in the work (and able to pass the examination of the Veterinary Dental College) you can become certified as a veterinary dentist. As such, you’ll work in a number of areas, from taking dental x-rays to providing occasional cleanings and conducting more advanced dental treatments.
Help the Effort to Stop Terrorism
When you think about “anti-terrorism,” you probably conjure up images of 9/11 or ISIS trying to build its much-vaunted caliphate—but terrorism takes many forms. For example, among the top concerns of anti-terrorism experts is the possibility that terrorists might poison the food supply. What would happen, for example, if a terrorist managed to implant a lethal virus into the country’s milk supply, or into animal feed?
If helping the country by countering terrorists appeals to you, you could become a bioterrorism prevention specialist. If this is up your alley, you’ll be pleased to learn that the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine now certifies this veterinary specialty.
Make Shelter Animals’ Lives More Livable
Most vets spend at least part of their time at animal shelters, but some become dedicated shelter medicine specialists. The challenges which exist in these facilities are singular, and the veterinarians who become expert in meeting those challenges can have a rewarding and energizing career in the field. As a shelter medicine specialist, you’ll learn how to create conditions which ensure that shelter animals receive the love, caring and medical treatment they deserve.
Promote Humane Conditions in Animal Testing Facilities
As a vet, you know that animals used in testing and experimentation are often exploited and the victims of cruel abuse. Fortunately, you can help by specializing in laboratory animal medicine. Your job won’t be able to end all such experimentation; you will be able to ensure that the conditions in experimental facilities are as humane as possible. This is another area in which you can achieve board certification (in this instance, from the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine.)
Put on Your Detective’s Hat
The increased concern in the public regarding animal welfare and abuse has created an interesting intersection between veterinary medicine and the law. Specifically, there is an increasing number of legal cases in which questions touching on forensics and forensic pathology come to the fore.
As a specialist in veterinary forensic pathology, you’ll help detectives and lawyers gather, handle and assess critically important evidence that can make or break one of these cases. An increasing number of schools (like the University of Florida, for example) now offer advanced degrees in areas like veterinary forensic sciences.
Service Our Feathered Friends
As a working vet, you probably see the occasional bird or two. If treating them is something that especially appeals to you, you can become a veterinary avian specialist. You’ll undergo rigorous training that will cover topics like the illnesses which primarily affect birds (and how best to treat them), bird behavior, and more. You’ll practice how to conduct examinations, inject medicine, and take blood samples. If working with birds is something that appeals to you, the good news is that you can now make a career of it.
Taking on advanced training can be disruptive and hard at times, but odds are you didn’t choose a career in veterinary medicine because you wanted to take the easy path. You did it because you cared about animals and were willing to work hard to enhance the quality of their lives in any way you could. If you truly want to freshen up your veterinary care, choose a specialty about which you genuinely care and start exploring, you’ll look back one day and be so glad you made the decision.
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