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A Career In Veterinary

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The work of the veterinary, or "animal doctor," may be regarded from two principal viewpoints—its humane and its economic significance. In curing animals of disease and preventing disease, the veterinary lessens suffering among dumb creatures. In studying the diseases of animals, ascertaining which of them are communicable to man and then working to prevent the communication of such diseases to man, he renders another great service. And, finally, in preventing and curing sickness in animals, he lessens the financial loss involved by the death of live stock, and does his share also towards maintaining a sufficient meat supply for the needs of the country. Plagues and diseases attacking cattle, hogs, and poultry have resulted in great economic loss. Not only have individual ranchers or farmers lost much money through the death of stock, but very often disease has attacked large numbers of animals, the meat supply has been insufficient to meet the demand in a particular market and unusually high prices have been the ultimate result. The alleviation of physical suffering on the part of animals and men, and the prevention of economic losses, are the accomplishments of the veterinarian.

Just as great strides have been made in the study and practice of medicine by physicians, so, too, vast improvements have within late years been made in the study and practice of the veterinary science. The importance of the work of the veterinarian has been recognized in several ways. ° Both the state and the individual employers of veterinarians demand that these men be scientifically trained in their profession, that they shall have completed a course of study at a reputable institution and that they be licensed to practice veterinary medicine by the state. By providing that veterinarians be examined by a state veterinary board, and licensed by this body before being permitted to practice, the entrance of quacks and ignorant and untrained men into the profession is prevented. This provision has also led to the establishment of thoroughgoing courses in numerous universities, where students learn the theory and practice of their profession.

Just as in medicine the tendency today is toward prevention of disease, so, too, this same trend is manifest in the practice of the veterinary profession. The causes of many of the diseases and illnesses attacking animals are known, and a great deal of the veterinary's attention is given to eradicating or preventing these causes, and so minimizing the chance of animals becoming subject to illness.

The veterinary works to prevent the sickness of animals by seeing that the conditions of their feeding and housing are proper, by detecting and eliminating any dangerous conditions, by discovering the causes of infectious diseases and the methods of controlling them, by segregating and treating sick or injured animals.

There are numerous opportunities for the well-trained and thoroughly capable veterinary. The first is in private practice. Many country districts, especially those devoted to the raising of animals for commercial purposes, offer a very profitable field for the independently practicing veterinary. The work may be either of a general nature, calling upon him to attend to the maladies of cattle, horses, fowl, hogs and other farm animals; or it may be more specialized work, where a neighborhood raises chiefly one kind of animal—such as cattle, swine or sheep.

The general practitioner of veterinary medicine is usually called upon to do work of various sorts. He attends to sanitary conditions, treats sick animals, performs surgical operations upon them when necessary and is a general "country doctor for animals." His work requires a thorough training in his profession, an observant eye, a steady hand, a good physique, health, strength and the ability to do oftentimes very hard work. Be-sides, he should have a strong and pleasing personality. Very often he will have opportunities to do work of an educational nature. In order to influence farmers and other owners of animals to change their ways of keeping and treating these animals, he will have need of the sort of personality which will give him the power to influence people favorably. He will need the gifts of logic and persuasiveness to make people see his view-point, realize its worth and act accordingly.

Most country veterinarians have a good practice and make a good living. In some cases, where an entire region is given over to the raising of live stock, a veterinary may attain a very large and exceedingly profitable practice.

There are also excellent opportunities for veterinaries in the private employ of ranchmen or owners of large live stock enter-prises. A veterinary holding such a position devotes his entire time to the care of animals, treats such as are sick and makes suggestions for improvements in the feeding, housing and breeding of the stock. The veterinary employed in this way has not the freedom of an independent practitioner, but he has the satisfaction of steady employment and certain pay. The salary is generally a good one, beginning at about $1,500 to $2,000 a year.

There is also considerable opportunity for the veterinary in the public service. He can serve his city, state or country in one of several capacities. There are a number of desirable posts open to men who are graduates of a recognized veterinary school, and who can pass the necessary civil service examinations and have the requisite experience for the special positions they wish to fill. Veterinarians in the federal civil service do work which varies, according to their position, from the routine of live stock inspection to the carrying on of scientific research.

Veterinarians inspect live stock in the stock yards and in the field, see that it is healthy before permitting it to be slaughtered and look after the sanitary conditions of the slaughterhouses. Federal veterinarians carry on this work in cases where meat is shipped from one state into another; but, where a slaughterhouse supplies one state only, state or municipal veterinary inspectors look to the matters mentioned. Men holding the higher positions carry on the administrative end of the work, supervising veterinarians in the field and at meat inspecting stations; others undertake research work in connection with animal diseases. Veterinarians in the federal civil service receive from about $1,380 to about $3,660, and in the cases of the higher officials, more.

Veterinary bacteriologists also serve the public. They are en-gaged in scientific work in veterinary bacteriology. They experiment to discover facts about the transmission of animal diseases, diagnose maladies attacking animals, make special intensive investigations of specific diseases, and carry out highly important research work. The salaries for this type of work are from about $1,800 to over $5,000 a year.

The veterinary pathologists in the federal civil service examine animal tissues and other parts, diagnose diseases, investigate maladies and engage in and direct very comprehensive research efforts. These men earn approximately the same salaries as do the veterinary bacteriologists. Scientific work of the type carried on by veterinarians in the higher positions of the civil service will make a strong appeal to men who are endowed with a scientific trend of mind, patience, the willingness to engage in difficult and at times dangerous research work and the ability to follow out an idea and to think along original lines. Such positions will also prove desirable to those men who have a good deal of executive ability, who can originate and direct large enterprises and who can effectively supervise the work of large numbers of subordinates engaged in different types of veterinary work.

In the state and municipal civil service, veterinary inspectors, bacteriologists and pathologists are employed in positions similar to those in the federal service, at usually good salaries. These men also render very great services to the public. They prevent the sale of contaminated meat, see to it that animals are kept in a healthy condition and prevent and remedy animal diseases.

There are also a number of posts for veterinarians in the army. In cavalry divisions, where large numbers of horses are used, a veterinarian is very necessary. His work will be practically specialized, since he will deal chiefly with horses. The salary for men engaged in army work is from about $1,700 or $1,800 up. The life of an army veterinary may involve a good deal of traveling from place to place, especially in time of war, and in this case some danger, too. Ordinarily, however, it is not much different from that of the civilian veterinary doctor.

For men who are attracted to the teaching of veterinary science, there are numerous positions in the state and private schools. Teachers of veterinary subjects should have, besides a thorough knowledge of their profession, the ability to teach and some training for the work of teaching. Their work is very important, for it is their duty to train future veterinarians. The salaries of veterinary teachers are usually between $1,000 and $5,000 a year.

In order to enter a veterinary school, the student must usually have completed four years of high school work, in the course of which he should have taken up as much natural science as possible. In the veterinary school he will study, among other subjects, the anatomy and physiology of animals, chemistry, embryology, bacteriology and pathology. He will have opportunity to examine and treat sick and injured animals and to per-form surgical operations upon them—in a word, to have some preliminary practice in his profession. After having successfully completed his course at the veterinary school, the prospective veterinarian is obliged to take the state examination for a license to practice.

The courses given at most veterinary schools are from three to four years in duration. At a number of state schools, no tuition fee is charged, but some of the universities offering veterinary courses make a charge of several hundred dollars a year. More detailed information may be obtained from the schools themselves.

Whether one looks at the work of the veterinarian from the standpoint of human health, health of animals or economic influence, its great importance is clearly manifest. The fact that veterinary practice is now based upon sound scientific principles and carried on by well-trained and efficient men has given the profession a new dignity, and has led to a growing perception and recognition of its value.


CRAIG, R. A.: "Common Diseases of Farm Animals," J. B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, 1919.

HADLEY, F. B.: "Principles of Veterinary Science," W. B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1920.

PATON, N. and ORR, J. B.: "Science of Veterinary Physiology," Wm. Wood & Co., New York, 1921.

"The Veterinary Profession," Bull. No. 31, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 1914.

WHITE, D. S.: "Textbook of the Principles and Practice of Veterinary Medicine," Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia, 1920.


American Journal of Veterinary Medicine, D. M. Campbell, Chicago. Cornell Veterinarian, D. H. Udall, Ithaca, New York.

Interstate Veterinary Review, A. Q. Wooster, Erie, Kans.

Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, Baton Rouge, La.

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