Thursday, October 16, 2014

A career in veterinary sciences

What does it take to be an veterinarian? Not just the love for puppies and kittens, finds out Patricia Mascarenhas

As an animal lover, you might want to spend all day hanging out with loving, licking, kindly animals. However, veterinarians are more than just dog and cat doctors. “We work with many different types of animals, these include birds, fish, rabbits, ferrets, rodents, and reptiles in addition to the traditional pets,” says Dr Sunetra Wadke Rane, Masters of Veterinary Sciences (MVSc), PetVet Veterinary Clinic.
Good health has become important not just for human beings but for pets and other animals as well. “People are open to the idea of having different kinds of pets leading to an increase in demand for veterinarians in India,” informs Wadke. Dr DA Kakar of the Bombay Veterinary College (BVC) agrees, “In 1886, when our college was established 35 students enrolled for the course, the number has now increased to 71.” Besides enrollment, the number of aspirants too is increasing. For example, this year 265 applicants were competing for the 71 seats. 
It is not just the pet owners who have led to an increase in demand for veterinary doctors. There are many private players taking up Veterinary and Animal Husbandry as an entrepreneurship today, particularly in areas of modern farming, biotechnology, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, vaccines, diagnostics, feed and value added animal products. “We have people coming in from dairy, fishery and poultry industries, pharmaceutical companies, public hygiene, government and private sectors,” informs Wadke.
The path to become a veterinarian is not easy. Veterinarians must obtain doctoral degrees from accredited schools of veterinary medicine. “An undergraduate course (BVSc & AH) of five years duration is a must,” says Kakar. To attain this degree an aspirant has to be not less than 17 years of age; he/she has to clear 10+2 years of schooling with physics, chemistry and biology as basic subjects and merit in MH-CET exam. The Maharashtra Animal and Fishery Sciences University (MAFSU) provides an admission form. Apart from this, there are a number of postgraduate diploma courses. “Post the bachelors, you can also pursue Masters in Veterinary Sciences (MVSc) followed by PhD,” he informs.  
“Our patients don't speak and you attend to canines, felines, exotic animals like rabbits, ferrets, reptiles, birds and the list goes on. Every species has a different anatomy and physiology and thus needs to be attended to differently,” explains Mugdha Kulkarni, MVSc (surgery and radiology), Prolife Speciality Vet Clinic. Aspirants must remember they are dealing with animals, some who are aggressive so one has to whole heartedly accept the bites, kicks and licks that your patients may shower on you. “That's what makes us different from a human medicos, a human patient would never enter a consult ready to bite the doctor,” laughs Kulkarni.
In this profession, the salary depends not only on experience and location but also the type of patients one treats. “If you choose to work at the grass root level worker or as budding private practitioner, your pay could be about Rs 15, 000 per month. However, with patience and perseverance and after years of being into practice and building the trust of your clientele, your practice can be rewarding,” informs Kulkarni.  
Although you will be caring for animals, you will be working closely with their owners. Maintaining a professional and caring manner is an essential part of the job. There maybe many challenges for a veterinarian, but for those who are dedicated to care for animals, it is well worth the effort. 

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