Becoming a Veterinarian in Canada

Becoming a Veterinarian in Canada

Veterinary medicine is one of the most exciting and important fields in healthcare ecosystem and an excellent career for animal lovers. It is extremely fulfilling and rewarding when you can provide the necessary medical care for the animals we love and need. 

To become and practise as a veterinarian in Canada you would need extensive education, training, and experience. In this article we will try to summarize what it takes to become a veterinarian in Canada, as well as some interesting facts for you to consider if you are planning to choose veterinary practise as your career. 

According to Government of Canada Job Bank to be able to practise as a veterinarian you need: 

  • Two years of pre-veterinary university studies or completion of a college program in health science and A four to five year university degree in veterinary medicine and Completion of national certification examinations are required.
  • A provincial licence to practice is required.
  • Entry into research positions may require post-graduate study.

Let's dive in deeper:  

How to become a vet in Canada

1. Do your research 

There are five accredited veterinarian medical colleges in Canada as follows:

  • The University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM)

  • The Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM)

  • The Ontario Veterinary College (OVC)

  • Faculté De Médecine Vétérinaire (FMV)

  • The Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC)

2. Admissions 

As you research the school you want to attend, you want to ensure that you meet the school's admission requirements. Visit their website to determine the exact requirements. Admissions requirements generally cover: 

  • Grades in prerequisite undergraduate courses

  • Veterinarian experience

  • An interview and an application essay

  • Letters of recommendation

  • Entry exam like the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)

It takes four years to complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in Canada. The final year of veterinary school typically involves clinical training, also known as rotations. This training provides hands-on experience working with animals of different sizes, including community practice, oncology, surgery, and equine medicine. As the clinical training ends, students can perform some basic veterinary duties under the supervision of a licensed professional.

4. Licensing

As indicated before, you will need to have a certificate of qualification to practice as a licensed veterinarian in Canada. The process to acquire this qualification depends on where you get your degree. If you get it from an accredited institution, you can get the certificate of qualification (CQ) after passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE. Those who earn their Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from a non-accredited institution need to pass the clinical proficiency examination (CPE), Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination (BCSE), and the NAVLE.

5. Provincial Licensing

After you get your certificate of qualification (QC), you then need to meet the licensing requirements of your province or territory. Licensing typically involves some paperwork and fees and may include some references. For example, in Alberta, applicants need to provide three references and their contact information. In Ontario, there is a Jurisprudence Exa that applicants need to pass before getting a licence. 

6. Veterinary Specialization

The veterinary field has various specialties that you can specialize in. For example, canine and feline practice, swine health management, and daily practice are among available options. Specialization focuses your expert knowledge in a field and increases your job opportunities. You can start your specialization journey by getting an internship or residency program through the Veterinary and Internship Residency Matching Program. Review the program to ensure you have the prerequisites and any required license or training to participate. 

Some of the residency programs will require you to have a preliminary internship completed prior to attending.

Let's now look at some of veterinarian specialties:

  • Research veterinarian: Veterinarians in research field typically work in universities, government institutions, and programs for private corporations to perform research on the health and wellness of animals. They may run tests, observe animals, research the effects of various medicines, and recommend actions based on the results. 
  • Small animal veterinarian: Most small animal vets care animals like cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, and other small animals. They also help fish, birds, and reptiles. This is perhaps the most common and popular field with plenty of job opportunities.  
  • Large animal veterinarian: Large animal veterinarians would work with livestock, horses, cattle, pigs, alpacas, adn llamas. 
  • Zoo veterinarian: These vets would be responsible for wildlife in zoos and animal reservations. They can work with various species, including large birds, fish, insects, and other exotic animals.
  • Equine veterinarian: Veterinarians in equine medicine only offer care to horses. This is rather a narrow specialization field but niche which might make you more in demand. 
  • Mixed practice veterinarian: You can also choose to work with both large and small animals rather than specializing. They also can help to address general issues.



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