Veterinary medicine is a field that is constantly in need of professionals as the pet population continues to grow. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for veterinarians is expected to grow approximately 36 percent by 2020. These jobs will not just be for clinical veterinarians, but can also include industry work developing new foods and in research, studying disease control. There are only 28 veterinary schools in the United States, and according to the 2011 U.S. News and World Report rankings, these are the top four schools.

Cornell University

The College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University ranks No. 1 in the nation and offers a DVM, DVM/Ph.D. or a DVM/MPH with the University of Minnesota. First year students at Cornell are not only paired with a faculty advisor as they begin their studies, but also, more senior students in their second and third year of the program serve as peer mentors to help guide students. Students can select a clinical pathway in small animal, equine, general medicine, exotic animal medicine, zoo and wildlife and ambulatory medicine. Students can gain clinical experience through community outreach programs that provide pet care for the underserved or in the feline health center.

University of California, Davis

For students at the No. 2 school in the country, clinical work begins immediately during their first year of school as they spend time in the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital with students that are more senior. A course in professional and clinical skills is required of all students and addresses issues such as communication, professionalism and working with clients. Students focus their studies in their third and fourth years by choosing between large or small animal medicine. The Student Training and Advanced Research program allows students to conduct summer research, while the YEAR program adds an additional year to the DVM degree and allows students to conduct research for an entire year without distraction from classes or clinical rotations.

Colorado State University

Ranked No. 3, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at CSU offers several combined degree options in addition to the DVM: DVM/MBA with the CSU College of Business, DVM/Ph.D., DVM/MPH with the Colorado School of Public Health, MST/DVM which is a Master of Toxicology through the Center for Environmental Medicine and a business certificate program. CSU has a number of international study options, which is unique amongst DVM programs. Students can conduct summer research at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, or with CSU’S partner school, the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies in Scotland. Students may also travel to the Japanese National Institute of Radiological Studies or conduct research in viral biology in Mexico or Senegal.

North Carolina State University

NCSU is tied for No. 3, and the NCSU teaching animal unit is also a working farm, allowing students immediate access to large animals. In addition to the standard curriculum, students take special topic courses called selectives, which help students narrow down their future specialization later in their training. Selective topics can include pathology, zoological medicine, laboratory animal medicine and epidemiology and public health. NCSU has a Community Campus Partnership that provides a range of veterinary services locally, including a house call program, a feral cat spay and neuter program and a special program working with animals that serve emotionally disturbed children. Other outreach activities include counseling for pet loss and workshops on disaster preparedness in relation to animal welfare.

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