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What Is a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)?

What Is a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)?

To become a licensed veterinarian or a veterinary specialist, you’ll need to complete a specific type of higher education program. Known as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine or Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program, it’s required for veterinary licensure in the United States as well as many other countries. By completing the program and earning your DVM, you’ll be one step closer to obtaining your veterinary license. What is a DVM exactly, and how do you obtain one?

The Basics of a DVM

A DVM is a doctoral degree in the field of veterinary medicine. There are DVM programs offered at colleges and universities that are accredited with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). You can apply to enroll in a DVM program at one of these colleges or universities. If you’re accepted, you’ll engage in studies centered around veterinary medicine.

DVM programs cover a broad range of topics associated with veterinary medicine. Among other things, you’ll learn about common diseases and injuries that affect animals, animal physiology, metabolic processes in animals, animal immunology, animal surgery, animal nutrition and how to provide medical care to animals. A DVM program is designed to prepare you for work in the field of veterinary medicine.

Enrolling a DVM program is essential if you want to become a veterinarian or a veterinary specialist. Veterinarians and veterinary specialists require licensure, and you can only obtain a veterinary license after completing a DVM program and passing all the necessary tests. After earning your DVM, you can take a state-issued examination to obtain your veterinary license. Licensure will then allow you to practice in that state as a licensed veterinarian.

According to the AVMA, some 30 colleges and universities in the United States offer DVM programs.

  • Auburn University
  • Tuskegee University
  • Midwestern University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California
  • Western University of Health Sciences
  • Colorado State University
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Illinois
  • Purdue University
  • Iowa University
  • Iowa State University
  • Kansas State University
  • Louisiana State University
  • Tufts University
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Minnesota
  • Mississippi State University
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Cornell University
  • Long Island University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Ohio State University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Oregon State University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Tennessee
  • Texas A&M University
  • Lincoln Memorial University

How Long Does a DVM Program Take to Complete?

DVM programs are four years. It’s important to note, however, that most AVMA-accredited colleges and universities require students to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program before enrolling in a DVM program.

You can’t enroll in a DVM program immediately after graduating high school. Rather, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree before most colleges and universities will even consider your application for DVM enrollment. Different colleges and universities have their own prerequisites for DVM enrollment. Nonetheless, you can expect to spend roughly four years in a separate higher education program before enrolling in a DVM program.

How to Prepare for a DVM Program

What can you do to prepare for a DVM program? For starters, you should research the various colleges and universities in the United States that offer DVM programs. Each AVMA-accredited college and university has prerequisites for enrolling in their respective DVM program. At minimum, you’ll typically need a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree.

Some colleges and universities even require a minimum amount of volunteer hours at a veterinary clinic. You may have to spend up to 180 hours — sometimes more — volunteering at a local veterinary clinic. Of course, the experience you’ll gain from volunteering at a veterinary clinic is invaluable. It will provide you knowledge of the veterinary medicine industry and how it works, which should help you succeed in your efforts to obtain a DVM.

DVM Tips for Success: What You Should Know

Once accepted into a DVM program, you should focus all your energy on your studies. Regardless of the college or university, passing a DVM program is no walk in the park. According to the AVMA, only half of all students who enroll in a DVM program end up graduating. That’s about the same graduation rate as traditional medical school programs.

Stay on top of all of your curriculum while participating in a DVM program. If you need help with a specific task, don’t be afraid to ask your professor for assistance. As long you dedicate yourself and put forth the necessary time and work, you can complete the DVM program.

What About Other Veterinary Professions?

While veterinarians and veterinary specialists require a DVM, many other veterinary professions don’t. Veterinary assistants, for example, don’t need a DVM because they assist licensed veterinarians with their duties rather than providing direct medical care to animals themselves. Veterinary technicians also don’t need a DVM. While veterinary technicians perform more hands-on work with animals than veterinary assistants, they work under the guidance and supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Therefore, neither veterinary assistants nor veterinary technicians need a DVM.

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