A Comprehensive Guide on Becoming a Veterinarian in Canada

In the event that you survey a group of individuals regarding their aspirations as they grow up, you will likely find that some will list "veterinarian" as their primary choice. Numerous individuals have hopes of becoming veterinarians, but do you know where to begin? And are the prerequisites different for Canadian students compared to those in the United States?

If you have already started gathering some basic information, you may have noticed that the process of becoming a veterinarian in Canada or the U.S. can vary from person to person. The process can be overwhelming, which is why we have consulted a few experts to assist you along the way. Rubina Gilani, Associate Director of Admissions for Canada and International Students at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet), along with Ross Vet alumni Dr. Jazmeen Suleman '20, DVM and Dr. Jessica Cusmariu '14, DVM, share their experiences and knowledge on how to become veterinarians and practice in Canada. Dr. Suleman works at Medicine Hat, a veterinary clinic situated in Alberta, while Dr. Cusmariu works at Clarkson Village Animal Hospital, an Ontario-based facility.


Step One: Conduct Research on Your Preferred Schools

When it comes to applying to veterinary schools in Canada, there are unique challenges to consider. Perhaps the most significant challenge is the fact that there are only five veterinary medical colleges available. According to Ruby Gilani, "Canadian Veterinary schools receive approximately 600 applicants each year, and typically, they can only accept 100. The competition has always been fierce, but now that they are accepting international applicants, there are even fewer seats available for Canadians."

The competition for these limited seats is what makes Ross Vet an attractive option for aspiring Canadian veterinarians. Gilani explains, "We have received accreditation from the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA)[i], which means that graduates with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from Ross Vet are eligible to practice in both the United States and Canada. Ross Vet graduates can return to Canada and pursue job opportunities without the need for additional exams or clinical practice beyond the training they receive at the University." She adds, "We also offer an accelerated program that lasts 3.25 years. Ross Vet operates with three semesters per year and no breaks during the summer. This enables students to complete the program at a faster pace and be ready to enter the job market, where the demand for veterinarians in both Canada and the U.S. is strong."

So, how did Ross Vet alumna Dr. Jessica Cusmariu decide to attend Ross Vet? "I first heard about the school from a family friend while I was still an undergraduate. I attended one of Ross Vet's information sessions, and apart from my desire to become a veterinarian, I had gained extensive experience working with animals. During my undergraduate years, I worked at an animal clinic, and I also spent a few years at zoo camp. It was truly a unique place where we had various animals like lions, tigers, lemurs, leopards, jaguars, rescue bears and their cubs, as well as smaller creatures like spider monkeys."

Step Two: Admissions Requirements for Veterinary School

Once you have finished researching which veterinary schools you are interested in, it is important to understand their specific admissions requirements. Gilani explains, "At Ross Vet, we require applicants to have completed two years of university courses in biology, physics, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and either cellular biology or genetics. Additionally, a math course in either calculus or statistics is necessary. Lastly, an English course is a prerequisite. Students must either possess a bachelor's degree or have successfully completed at least two years of university courses before applying." Other requirements include electives in subjects like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, business communications, medical terminology, nutrition, and a language course.

"The foremost quality we look for is a passion for veterinary medicine and a drive to become a veterinarian," Gilani emphasizes. "Without these qualities, a career in this field can be overwhelming. The demands, both academically and physically, are considerable. Not to mention, for those who choose to run their own practice, having business acumen is crucial. Veterinary medicine is not suited for everyone, but it is undeniably one of the most rewarding fields for individuals who adore animals, possess strong communication skills, and are not intimidated by workdays that can be disrupted by emergencies and span a wide range of species being treated.

Step Three: Fulfill the requirements of your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program

In order to pursue a career as a veterinarian in the United States or Canada, it is essential to obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. As Dr. Gilani explains, Ross Vet is an esteemed educational institution accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and is located in the beautiful St. Kitts. What sets our program apart is the exceptional opportunities it provides. For instance, we offer grants to support research on various viruses such as Zika and other illnesses transmitted by mosquitoes. Furthermore, aside from classroom-based learning and practical experience, our students have the opportunity to contribute to sea turtle conservation and participate in dolphin research. Additionally, we offer a wide range of clubs with over 25 options for students to choose from, each focusing on different aspects of veterinary medicine including surgery, aquatics, birds, research, pathology, and veterinary business management, among others.

On a similar note, Dr. Jazmeen Suleman shares her experience and decision to apply to Ross Vet. Despite contemplating applying to veterinary schools in Canada, she found it difficult to secure an interview. However, after interacting with a former Ross Vet student who spoke highly of the institution, she was drawn to the fact that Ross Vet offers the same accreditation as Canadian veterinary colleges. The accelerated 3-semester program allowed her to receive the same high-quality education while completing her studies at a faster pace.

Dr. Suleman also praises the diverse training opportunities available at Ross Vet. She highlights the presence of the Ross University Veterinary Clinic (RUVC) which provides exceptional clinical training in the care of small animals, farm animals, turtles, and other exotic species. For individuals interested in working with zoo animals and other wildlife, Ross Vet offers a seamless pathway to specialize in these areas through collaboration with affiliated schools.

Step Four: Meet the requirements for licensure

To become a licensed veterinarian in Canada and practice veterinary medicine in both the United States and Canada, it is necessary to pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE)®. This computer-based examination is administered by the International Council for Veterinary Assessment (ICVA) and consists of multiple-choice questions. The exam is available at designated computer testing centers in North America and select overseas locations. Dr. Suleman explains that at Ross Vet, students have the opportunity to sit for the NAVLE® during their clinical year, allowing them to earn their DVM degree and be prepared for professional practice.

Step Five: Pursue additional training for specialization

If you aspire to specialize in a particular area of veterinary medicine, such as internal medicine or surgery, it is essential to complete additional training through internships or residency programs. The Veterinary Internship & Residency Matching Program is a valuable resource for exploring various opportunities in this realm.

Dr. Cusmariu emphasizes the importance of maintaining a drive to learn and being able to engage in self-study. The field of veterinary medicine is constantly evolving, and even after graduation, the learning process continues. It is not uncommon for veterinarians to transition from one area of practice to another, which is why cultivating a mindset of continuous learning is imperative for long-term success in this profession.

Step Six: Embark on your veterinary career

Before diving into your veterinary career, it is vital to take the time to explore different employment options and thoroughly research various career paths. Consider your preferred geographic location and the salary potential in different areas of Canada. Dr. Gilani notes that there is currently a significant demand for large animal veterinarians in Canada, which presents a promising opportunity for those interested in this field. Additionally, the need for specialists is growing, so aspiring veterinarians should consider these areas. Take advantage of online resources and professional organizations to connect with peers, instructors, and seasoned veterinarians who can offer guidance and support during this exciting journey.

Is veterinary medicine different in Canada compared to the United States? According to Dr. Cusmariu, there are minimal differences between the two countries. However, certain diseases may be more prevalent in specific regions. For instance, heartworm is common in Florida but rarely seen in Canada. Conversely, Lyme Disease is prevalent in Southern Ontario and the North East U.S., but non-existent in Alberta or Saskatoon. Veterinary professionals closely monitor these disease outbreaks, especially considering the potential for animal-to-human transmission of pathogens.

Now that you possess a more comprehensive comprehension of the steps necessary for becoming a veterinarian in Canada, you might be inclined to embark on preparing your application. It would be prudent to peruse our assortment of blog posts, such as "Unveiling the Secrets to Gain Admission into Veterinary School" or "Quantifying the Significance of GRE Scores in Veterinary School Admissions" to fortify your vet school application.

Can you envision yourself as a distinguished veterinarian at Ross Vet?

Enlighten yourself further by acquiring additional information at this link: Learn More.

iRoss University School of Veterinary Medicine bestows upon its graduates the esteemed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree, which has earned accreditation from the esteemed American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education (AVMA COE), situated at 1931 N. Meacham Road, Suite 100, Schaumburg, IL 60173, Telephone: 800.248.2862. For a wealth of detailed information, kindly visit the following webpage: https://www.avma.org/education/accreditation-veterinary-colleges.

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