Finding a rewarding job is important, and in today’s tough economic climate it’s more important than ever. It can also be tricky, and those looking for a solid career need to be able to find one that offers them excellent salaries, good benefits, and the chance to enjoy personal rewards. The health field has all of those things in spades, but it’s not always desirable to enter the field and provide bedside care to a patient. Becoming a public health veterinarian may be a good option that’s worth thinking about.
The term ‘public health veterinarian’ can be a little bit difficult to grasp, largely because most people think of vets as only working with animals – giving their dogs or cats their rabies shots, spaying them, and so on. But a public health veterinarian is a unique position within the field and one that has a lot of rewards to offer. If you’re not entirely sure just what the job entails, keep reading to learn more.
What Is a Public Health Veterinarian?
Essentially, a public health veterinarian is a licensed, highly trained professional who practices veterinary medicine but with a specific focus on protecting human and animal populations from disease and injuries caused by animal related sources. The job can take on many forms, and those who work in the field will often have a wide range of responsibilities.
Duties may include:
- Consulting with local health officers and environmental health agencies on proper control of disease and potential outbreak risks.
- Gathering of data and analyzation to determine risk factors related to infectious diseases transmitted from animals to people.
- Assisting or spearheading the investigation, control, and prevention of these diseases through different programs and interventions.
- Examination and control of food production and safety when food involves animal related agriculture.
- Helping design and implement educational programs and resources that can reduce infections caused by these diseases.
- Helping work to monitor any potential issues that could become serious public health issues related to animals.
Essentially, these professionals focus their efforts on preventing any kind of outbreak of disease or illness related to animals – especially animal to human disease. Good examples include avian flu outbreak investigation, rabies control, and more.
As with any job, training will have a big impact on one’s ability to perform well as a public health veterinarian. But there are some personal characteristics that can help as well. Having strengths in the following areas can help you thrive in the field.
- Inquisitive Mind – Working in the field will require you to investigate different potential sources of outbreaks, identify medical trends, and more. Having a naturally inquisitive mind will help tremendously during the process.
- Affinity For Animals – Obviously, anyone who is going to work with animals will need to be at least somewhat capable of working with them on a regular basis.
- Strong Math and Analytical Skills – Measuring and comparing data, understanding charts, and analyzing information will have a direct role in one’s ability to perform in this job.
- Willingness to Work in Various Environments – Work as a public health vet can involve office work, lab work, and extensive field work. Anyone entering the field should be willing and able to work in different environments on a regular basis.
Nature of the Work
This position can be incredibly diverse in terms of job duties and what an average day involves. Public health veterinarians will spend time gathering data and reviewing information as well as preparing different strategies and plans for confronting potential health issues. They may also work with various other agencies during the process in order to enact policy changes. And field work is a frequent task as well, with things like gathering specimens, administering vaccines, and more all being part of the job.
Public health veterinarians will often find work in the public sector, working for federal, state, or local governments. However, private sector jobs exist as well in various settings.
Education and Training
To become a public health veterinarian, students will need to begin by taking a public health program that leads to a Master’s of Public Health with a focus in Veterinary medicine. Completion of this program can be followed by a DVM or MD degree, but will often be enough to qualify for positions in the field. Licensure and certification from the AAPHV will have a big impact on finding employment as well.