15 Jan I WANT TO BE AN EXOTIC PET VETERINARIAN…
… Where should we begin?
To be an exotic pet vet first you need to be a vet, and then start a never ending journey of continuing education and upgrading that might frustrate some people. To me, this is one of the most stimulating aspects of the specialty.
Obviously, first of all you need to graduate in veteriarny medicine. In Spain there are 10 public vet schools (yes, 10, vs 6 in England and 2 in Scotland, or 4 in France) plus 3 private schools, and most of them offer units, seminars or lectures in exotic pet medicine. In the best case scenario it will be a tiny little unit in the curriculum..
Master’s degree: There are currently five masters in Spain, all of them are offered in Madrid. Four of them are private and take place on weekends, whereas the fifth one, which takes place on weekdays, is organized by the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. If you are interested in this subject, I’ll talk more about it on my next post.
European or American Diplomate: If you’re looking for a regulated specialty in exotic mammals, avian or reptile medicine and surgery, you can undertake a residency program. Residencies are only offered in centers that already have a diplomate and in which the European college or American board of diplomates have approved the course. To become a diplomate you must finish the residency program and pass an exam.
Externships: It is currently very difficult to get an externship in a spanish clinic or hospital unless it is linked to a vet school or master’s degree. It’s usually easier abroad. You can check the center’s web page if there is any program for visiting veterinarians (quite common in vet schools and big hospitals), or you can just email the vet you’d like to visit. It always worked for me!
Scientific meetings and papers: This is the way scientists share our knowledge and experiences, so you can’t miss meetings nor stop reading!!! Exotic pet medicine is specially sensitive in this aspect, since there are many things to discover and describe, and often old subjects are reviewed and modified. Reading journals and attending national and international conferences helps keeping yourself up to date.
Associations, online forums, etc. of exotic veterinarians: There are many associations and online forums, both national and international, where one can share information and learn from other colleagues. Some associations, such as AVEPA o WAVMA, recognize as specialists those members who have proven certain skills.