By Marli Naidoo
A love for animals is, of course, the most important aspect when you decide to become a veterinarian. Other factors that you should also consider include that you will most likely be called out at night, and that you will be dealing with various illnesses and wounds. You will therefore have to put the needs of the animals before your own. Empathy and patience are also important, for the patient and its owner.
However, veterinarians do not only take care of pets’ health. Veterinarians can specialise in birds, farm animals, cattle, game, etc. Therefore, you can align your qualifications with your personality. Whether you prefer a sterile practice in the city or working in the veld every day is up to you.
Becoming a veterinarian is academically challenging. The only tertiary institution in South Africa that offers the BVSc degree is the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Veterinary Science. It is a six-year course, with the sixth year as a practical year.
The minimum admission requirement is a National Senior Certificate with the following subjects and levels of achievement:
English Home Language or First Additional Language: 60-69%
Physical Science: 60-69%
As only a certain number of students are admitted each year, the above achievements will not ensure that you will be one of the lucky students who receive admission. It would therefore be best if you could achieve the highest possible percentages, and also get involved in projects or veterinary practices or help out voluntarily while you are still at school.
Because of students experience a huge amount of pressure, it is important that you should be mentally healthy, or if you suffer from a mental illness, that you receive the necessary help and support.
In South Africa, veterinarians can work in various sectors. You can work for a private practice or open your own practice. Other options are to work in research or get involved in training.
Public health is also an option. Food security and the production of food that is safe for human consumption is a crucial field in which the veterinarian plays an important role. Veterinarians make sure that milk and meat are processed hygienically, they take care of the animals on farms, and they make sure animals are free from diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
Veterinarians can also do laboratory work, get involved in wildlife management, or get involved in animal welfare.
The options are wide and exciting. It is not at all a boring profession, and it is highly fulfilling.
University of Pretoria: https://www.up.ac.za/faculty-of-veterinary-science
Fundi Connect: https://fundiconnect-web.fundi.co.za/career_profiles/veterinarian/#:~:text=Required%20Qualification%2Fs,it%20in%20for%20veterinary%20science.
Careers Portal: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.careersportal.co.za/careers/careers-advice/how-to-become-a-vet