The Role of Veterinarians in Society

As we progressed from manual labor to large industries capable of mass production of goods, veterinarians solidified their role in society. First, as critical medical and veterinary contributors to maintaining health, providing animal care, and preventing diseases in the meat production sector. And, second, as the luxuries and leisure time drastically increased thanks to the industrial revolution, veterinarians were charged in taking care of more pets than ever before in human history.The Role of Veterinarians in Society Essay explores the veterinary history and modern veterinary positioning in society.Exceptional Individuals as Drivers of Veterinary ProgressIt is no surprise then, that in the 1800s, a famous French chemist and biologist, Louis Pasteur, undertook an important medical and veterinary task – figuring out what rabies is and how to treat it. Contrary to popular opinion, rabies is not just manifested as the word would imply – becoming rabid. Instead, it can take two forms. The more sedated form is where an animal is foaming at the mouth, with hanging jaw and paralyzed demeanor. And the more serious form of animal rabies in which an animal is extremely aggressive toward any living animal, and even inanimate objects.Pasteur soon deduced that animal rabies is transmitted via saliva, so an infected animal can easily infect others by a bite that penetrates the skin of the animal. In order to erect a defense against the rabies culprits contained in the saliva, Pasteur began to extract them from the saliva, and weaken them, by drying up the samples. Eventually, Pasteur developed a world’s first rabies vaccine. A remarkable feat for one who, by today’s standards, would be considered as a mere veterinarian dabbling in microbiology and animal research out of sheer necessity and intellectual fortitude.Pasteur’s invaluable contributions to medicine showcase that veterinarians and medical practitioners followed the same path to progress. One that leads to an ever-greater understanding of microbiology and surgical techniques, which would first be tested on animals. These are the two pillars of veterinary craft that had a critical effect on how our societies developed.Even before there was a name to label microscopic organisms, veterinarians proved critical in keeping animals healthy. This directly translated to keeping humans healthy, as animal meat and other byproducts were the mainstays of human consumption throughout history. However, not until the invention of anesthetics in the mid-nineteenth century did we see huge leaps in treating both animals and humans.We could safely say that anesthetics jumpstarted both veterinary field and medicine. They allowed for surgeries on living animals to take place, which would have otherwise resulted in torturous animal deaths. This sped up consistently competent care of animals, ultimately resulting in the formalization of food quality standards. At the end of the 19th century, veterinarians were confident enough in their knowledge to control the state of the entire food supply. By testing the animal food itself and controlling diseases that may infect livestock, it is no understatement to claim that veterinarians have saved millions of human lives. In 1930, veterinarians were pivotal in establishing the Bureau of Animal Industry to further the goal of animal care and health. This important institution implemented a wide range of veterinary standards to ensure the wellbeing of livestock: their feed quality, animal disease testing, and animal breeding policies. In turn, such formalization of veterinary standards increased the longevity of humans.Modern VeterinariansAlthough dogs were human companions for thousands of years, they were mostly treated as working animals. Arising pet culture – owning dogs, cats, parrots, hamsters, and other animals for the sake of companionship – emerged after the industrial revolution. As societies began to enjoy more abundance due to mass production of commodities and food, so did pet culture and leisure become prevalent.This created two kinds of modern veterinarians – for companion animal and mixed animal veterinarians. The first one speaks for itself, while the latter type takes care of livestock, such as pigs, cattle, sheep, chickens, horses, turkeys, etc. Additionally, you can find them employed at zoos and governmental veterinary institutions in charge of animal food control.Outside of such large organizations related to food control, modern veterinarians can mostly be found in their own private practices, or as a part of a network of veterinary clinics. They serve an important function of vaccinating pets, diagnosing them for health problems, and treating them for either infectious diseases or injuries that require surgeries. Although this is the baseline of veterinarian duties, their influence extends much further, as they advise pet owners on how to properly feed and groom them, as well as rectifying any unwelcoming behavior.Mixed animal veterinarians lead a much more intense veterinary life, as they are called from one farm or a ranch to another, from one emergency to another. As you would see a medical doctor, veterinarians carry with them diagnostic medical equipment such as a stethoscope, and surgical instruments for emergencies.However, not all veterinarians venture into the field. Some opt for public health and research. By investigating what needs to be improved in animal care, these veterinarians have a more significant and broader impact on society. By now, we all know how easy a virus can spread from animal to human, and vice versa. From swine and bird flu to the latest COVID-19 virus, medical research into protecting us from these diseases has never been more important. In addition to safeguarding us against infectious diseases, research veterinarians contribute closely with medical doctors for product testing, drug testing, and developing new experimental surgeries. In particular, for the developing field of biotechnology. In short, everything that is considered to be used on humans is first tested on animals, which is the domain of research veterinarians.Public health veterinarians work on the frontline of food safety. As animal food inspectors, they make sure that all organizations involved in the production and delivery of eggs, meat, poultry, milk, and plants, are upholding rigorous standards of control. Veterinarian work also involves paying visits to farms and ranches to advise and check on diseases. Furthermore, public health veterinarians scrutinize the meat processing plants to ensure they follow the guidelines on sanitation, humane killing, and food quality control.Public health veterinarians are usually employees of DOA – Department of Agriculture, while FDA – Food and Drug Administration – employs them as a part of their effort to conduct quality control on all food trade with the world’s nations.How does one get a veterinarian degree?Both humans and animals are complex biological systems that require years of extensive training and learning to competently understand what makes them tick and what makes them ill. While medical doctors enjoy greater social prestige, both medical doctors and veterinarians undergo an equally grueling education that requires cognitive excellence and passionate dedication. To make the transition to a veterinarian as smooth as possible, it would be prudent to start participating as a volunteer at animal shelters, or more formalized programs in high school, like the 4-H program. As far as the veterinary curriculum goes, mastering hard sciences is a necessity. biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Everything else, like composition or communication, is just an extra benefit that would boost your employment chances on the veterinary market. In essence, to join veterinarians, one has to possess a practical, inquisitive, and scientific mind. One that can absorb the STEM curriculum through both high school and college.Currently, the United States holds 30 accredited veterinary universities. Given the hundreds of millions of people living in North America, this makes for intense competition, with only one out of three applicants accepted to become a veterinarian. As is the case with medical doctors, after successfully completing the veterinary program, one can further specialize in surgery, internal medicine, or preventive medicine. Unfortunately, veterinary education is quite costly and long. It takes. eight years of schooling – college plus veterinary college – on top of an average $20,000 per year tuition. Needless to say, many animals have unique physiognomies which greatly extends the time it takes to master the veterinary field.Lastly, animal lovers should seriously consider if a medical veterinary profession is for them for one simple reason – inevitable deaths. Not only those that are inevitable by the due course of nature or illness but often enough a veterinarian has to put down animals that are too sick to have an acceptable quality of life.Employment Prospects for VeterinariansIn terms of income, veterinarians are comparable to computer programmers and web developers, with some specializations yielding more profit than others. Both companion and mixed veterinary college graduates have an average salary within the range of $62,000 – $65,000. This increases with seniority when 5 years of veterinary experience goes up to about $79,000. Understandably, veterinarians not working in the field, like public health and research veterinarians, can expect a much lower income at about $53,000 annually. However, this will too grow with experience and accomplishments, with a salary increase to about $86,000 over five years. On a federal level, veterinarians can expect a similar wage range, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.Although vegetarianism is a growing trend for supposed health benefits, it doesn’t seem to stop the demand for more veterinarians. From 2008 to 2018, the veterinary field has grown by 33%. We can attribute this to a relatively low number of accredited veterinary institutions, which altogether output about 2,500 veterinary graduates per year. Even if meat consumption goes down in the future, the populations steadily increase, not followed by more veterinary colleges. All fields of medical veterinary practice enjoy steady growth, with the companion animal arena being the most competitive. This might change given the unprecedented economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, veterinarians can count on stable employment in numerous government institutions concerned with maintaining health standards. The first among them is Homeland Security as the largest single employer of veterinarians. Suffice to say, there will always be a need for trained professionals in food inspection, health, and safety.In short, a medical veterinarian degree (DVM) is very versatile. It makes it possible to open your own medical veterinary clinic or veterinarian work within a wide variety of institutions and organizations. On another note, those who would like to become private veterinarians should keep in mind that such income is largely aligned with the economy. If the economy suffers, so does your veterinary income as care for animals is still viewed as a luxury for most people, instead of a necessity.Final WordAs one of the cogs of modern civilization in charge of animal care, it is difficult to imagine how the health of a civilization could be maintained without veterinarians. Although there are not many of them, as the American Veterinary Medical Association only holds about 91,000 members, their jobs are critical for taking care of dozens of millions of animals. Some of them opt for veterinarian work with animals directly, while others are ensuring that our food supply remains as safe as possible. The veterinary profession might be rewarding and important on a societal scale, but it is difficult and costly to obtain. It requires years of dedicated study that must start during high school and focus on hard sciences – a curriculum that is the most challenging for most people. Therefore, only those who are without doubts and have a special inkling to care for animals should embark on the path of becoming a veterinarian.Veterinarians have to be obstetricians, surgeons, and anesthesiologists all in one medical person, as situations arise. This is quite different from being a human medical doctor who specializes in one thing only. However, veterinarians are also flexible. If they succumb to a veterinarian burnout due to seeing too many animals suffer and performing too many euthanasia cases, veterinarians can always switch to a type of veterinary work that is much less involved. Veterinarians can find such work as administrators within government agencies, as food inspectors for large corporations and ranches, or as researchers.With that said, the path to acquiring that degree of flexibility must come through some measure of grueling veterinary work in order to become an experienced veterinarian. Similar to medical practice for humans, this involves long operating hours, in addition to availability for emergency calls.Resources UsedAmerican Veterinary Medical Association – Care for Animals, Veterinarians Protecting the Health of Animals and SocietyVeterinary History Society – Veterinary History.The Journal of The Veterinary History Society, (1973):25United States Bureau of Labor Statistics – VeterinariansUnited States Department of Agriculture – Food Safety and Inspection ServiceOccupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition.