veterinarian or a veterinary surgeon , often shortened to vet, is
a doctor for animals and a practitioner of veterinary medicine. The
word comes from the Latin veterinae meaning "draught animals."
Like human doctors, veterinarians must make serious ethical decisions
about their patients' care. For example, there is ongoing debate within
the profession over the ethics of castrating piglets and slaughter without
Today's veterinarians are in the unique position of being the only doctors
educated to protect the health of both animals and people. They are not
only educated to protect the health care of pets, livestock as well as
zoo, exotic, competition and laboratory animals but they play an important
role in environmental protection, food safety and public health.
Currently around 200.000 veterinarians actively practice in Europe. The
profession is growing annually. Veterinary medicine, previously a male-dominated
profession, has experienced a significant increase in the number of women
studying at veterinary colleges and practising in all fields of the profession
Much of the legislation which governs the veterinary profession originates
in Brussels. Whether in the field of professional conduct, animal
health, veterinary medicinal products, animal welfare or public health,
by the time the legislation gets to the national governments, all that
is left for discussion is the detail of implementation.
It is therefore imperative that the veterinary profession
has an active and effective voice in the European institutions.
The key route into these corridors of power is the Federation of
Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), representing the views of approximately
200,000 veterinarians from 38 European countries, under the banner
of ‘one profession, one vision, one voice’.
Employment opportunities for veterinarians are numerous and include private
or corporate clinical practice, teaching and research, regulatory medicine,
public health, and military service.
veterinarians are no doubt the best known sector of the veterinary
profession, made popular by the famous James Herriot-books and by
many television series. Veterinary practitioners diagnose animal
health problems, medicate those with infections or disease, vaccinate
them against major diseases, treat and dress wounds, perform surgery.
In Europe, approximately 60% of veterinarians are engaged in the exciting
field of private or corporate clinical practice.
Of these, many treat
only pets such as dogs, cats, birds, small mammals (e.g., hamsters, guinea
pigs), reptiles, and fish. Other veterinarians limit their practice to
the care of farm/ranch; some exclusively treat horses; and still others
treat a combination of all species.
Within FVE, practicing veterinarians are represented by the European Union
of Veterinary Practitioners UEVP (European Union of Veterinary Practitioners).
contribute to human as well as animal health. Many veterinarians work
in the sector of food hygiene, where they protect the health of the
consumer by watching over the safety of food products of animal origin,
such as milk, meat, eggs and honey. They check and advise on how to
prevent the possible contamination of food with germs, residues of
medicines or environmental pollution.
Within the FVE, veterinary hygienists are federated in the European Union
of Veterinary Hygienists UEVH (European Union of Veterinary Hygienists).
|State Veterinary Officers
who work for the government serve the public by preventing animal
disease and promoting food safety. They may act as livestock inspectors,
checking animals for transmissible diseases or carry out inspections
To prevent the introduction of foreign diseases into Europe, veterinarians
are employed by state and federal regulatory agencies to quarantine and
inspect animals and animal products brought into the country. They supervise
interstate shipments of animals, test for diseases, and manage campaigns
to prevent and eradicate diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, BSE,
and rabies that pose threats to animal and human health.
Veterinarians also monitor the development and testing of new vaccines
to ensure their safety and effectiveness and are responsible for enforcing
Within FVE, contacts between State veterinarians are promoted by the EASVO (European Association of State Veterinary Officers).
may use their education to instruct veterinary students, other medical
professionals, and scientists. Veterinary college/school faculty members
conduct research, teach, and develop continuing education programs
to help practicing veterinarians acquire new knowledge and skills.
Veterinarians employed in research at universities, colleges, governmental
agencies, or in industry are dedicated to finding new ways to prevent
and treat animal and human health disorders. Veterinarians are also employed in management,
technical sales and services, and other positions in agribusinesses, pet
food companies, and pharmaceutical companies.
Within FVE, contacts between veterinarians working
in education, research and industry are promoted by EVERI (European Association of Veterinarians in Education, Research and Industry).
|Other Professional Activities
also work in the military service and are responsible for food safety,
veterinary care of government-owned animals, bioterrorism protection
and biomedical research and development.
Some veterinarians also work in zoologic medicine, aquatic animal medicine,
aerospace medicine (shuttle astronauts), animal shelter medicine, sports
medicine (race horses, greyhounds), animal-assisted activity and therapy
programs, and wildlife medicine also employ veterinarians. Two veterinarians
have even traveled into space as part of the NASA space shuttle program!