Picture your ideal work setting: Going from vizsla vaccinations to terrier teeth cleanings to parakeet parasite removal. You’re getting pooped on, bitten, and scratched, but you know it’s worth it because you’re doing what you love — cuddling (er...working) with animals and channeling your inner Doctor Doolittle. Now, imagine greeting your patients’ owners with a “marhabaan” or “namaste,” and looking out your lab window to sight of rolling Scottish moors or bustling Mumbai streets. Getting your veterinary medicine degree abroad is an incredible way to scratch both your animal-loving and wanderlusting itches at the same time!
Why Earn Veterinary Degrees Abroad
It can often seem as though liberal arts majors are the only ones who can actually earn a degree abroad, but that’s far from true. Travel enriches and expands upon your study experience no matter what the subject matter, and you will become living proof that not only it is possible to earn a veterinary medicine degree abroad, it can be a whole lot more enjoyable than earning one in your home country!
Renowned professors, scholars, and researchers work at the best schools for veterinarians all over the world, and are making exciting strides in various scientific fields. Although you may assume that the vets (and the vet schools!) in your home country are the best and brightest, the truth is that there are highly skilled and educated people in every country who have devoted their lives to the care of animals. In fact, some of the top veterinary schools in the world might not even be in your home country. Learning how to apply different veterinary practices from country to country will open your eyes and start you on the path of becoming a super-sleuth Dr. House for diagnoses in the animal kingdom.
Whether you want to open up your own practice abroad or head back home after graduating, attending veterinary medicine school abroad will set you apart from the flock of fellow vet hopefuls by letting future employers see that you’re an open-minded and independent individual.
Since veterinary medicine and science is such a specialized field, your locations options abroad may be slightly more limited than if you were pursuing a more general degree. Don’t let that discourage you though — from the highlands to the islands, there are still plenty of thrilling and surprising countries you could call home while checking off those veterinary school requirements.
England. The misty streets, iconic architecture, the royal influence of London, and the prestigious academic atmosphere in Oxford, make vet schools in England a popular choice. It’s the perfect place to hone your veterinary chops! Home to some of the most renowned universities around the world, England is a gathering point for academics in many subjects. Whether you want to specialize in large animals or work your way up to becoming the private vet of the Queen’s beloved corgis, England is the perfect place to get a headstart in a career helping animals.
India. If you want to combine your education abroad with a truly eye-opening experience, consider earning your veterinary medicine and science degree in India. Earning your degree in India is perfect because you will get to settle in, become accustomed to the noise, rush, and beauty, and learn so much more about this enormous country than you ever could just by standing in line with hundreds of other tourists at the Taj Mahal. Studying at one of India’s state-of-the-art vet schools, hospitals, or universities will provide you with incredible insights into animal care practices in a country where there are more stray dogs than pets.
Australia. Australia is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world, and is home to many of the best schools for veterinarians. Pursuing a veterinary medicine and science degree in Australia will allow you to focus on learning to care for the animal group of your choice: large livestock, small pets, or even wildlife. Wouldn’t you love to say you’re one of the researchers treating Australia’s current deadly outbreak of koala chlamydia (seriously...just think of the dinner conversations with your grandparents after you graduate?!). Plus, if you’re a native English speaker, then the difficulties of going to school for veterinary medicine and science won’t be compounded by any language barriers — once you get the hang of referring to certain animals as “bitzers” and “brumbys”!
Veterinary Medicine Degrees
Most people who want to attend veterinary medicine school have known for their whole lives that they wanted a career where they could work with animals daily. Whether you grew up surrounded by a menagerie of animal family members or you lived vicariously through James Herriot’s books of vet adventures, chances are your choice to become a veterinarian won’t be a shock to anyone who knows you.
Attending top veterinary schools in the world doesn’t necessarily mean you will end up as the white-coated doctor who gave your childhood dog his vaccinations, though. There are plenty of other routes that your veterinary career could take. You could use your knowledge for further research and teaching in the field of animal medicine, work with international agencies looking at animal safety issues or new disease outbreaks, care for racehorses or other specialty livestock, or specialize in wildlife or exotic animal veterinary care.
Typically, becoming a veterinarian requires a four-year undergraduate degree in biological sciences followed by a rigorous four-year veterinary medicine degree program. Depending on where you are in your academic career, you could look into either earning your undergraduate degree abroad, your veterinary degree abroad, or both.
Although programs vary from country to country, you can expect a mixture of classroom and laboratory learning with hands-on clinical practice, either on farms and ranches or in small animal hospitals. By the time you are finished with your more general undergraduate degree, you should know more specifically what type of veterinary career you want to pursue.
Benefits & Challenges
Vet schools are notoriously some of the most challenging, competitive, and exhausting academic paths. Should you be afraid that adding culture shock and language barriers on top of all that is a recipe for disaster? The answer is most definitely NO. Imagine friends or family members you might know in your own country who are fretting their way through a veterinary degree. Most likely, they seem singularly focused on their studies and exams and hardly ever seem to take a moment for themselves.
While it’s no secret that you’ll have to put in your fair share of hard work and study hours, but taking care of yourself is an equally important part of graduating. Instead of living and studying in the same city, state, or country you spent your whole life in, you’ll be constantly discovering new places, customs, and people that will jar you out of your study coma. Earning an international graduate degree (or undergraduate degree!) will help ensure that you take the time to plan that weekend trip to a castle you’ve been wanting to see or pop into a new restaurant in a neighboring village you’ve never been to.
Earning an international veterinary medicine degree will challenge you, thrill you, and ultimately help you become a full-fledged vet with a unique global perspective on animal care.