Cool Careers in Animal Science

This past summer, the Career Center hosted a seminar on Cool Careers in Animal Science. Experts in the Veterinary Medicine field from Louisiana State University (LSU) and Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) introduced their respective programs of study and also brought some special guests. Here are some of the main takeaways from that seminar.

Veterinary Technology

If you’d love to work with animals, but you’re not sure about going through medical school to become a veterinarian, you might consider becoming a veterinary technician instead. Veterinary technicians work side by side with veterinarians in animal clinics. The Veterinary Technology (VTEC) profession has substantial job security, touting a ratio of 100 veterinarians to every one veterinary tech.  This three year program can also be a great second career.  According to Dr. Rebecca Adcock, instructor with Baton Rouge Community College, they have participants from their early 20’s to well into their 60’s.

Veterinary Tech Admission Criteria

To get into BRCC’s Veterinary Technician program, applicants must first be admitted to BRCC and have a high school diploma or GED. In addition, to be eligible for entry into the VTEC program, students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.25 or higher.  The application for admission to the VTEC Program is available on the BRCC website once a year, during the spring semester, for acceptance to the fall class. It is important to note that admission to the Veterinary Technology program is competitive: meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

Veterinary Medicine

Alternatively, if you are passionate about building a career working with animals, you may choose to go for the doctorate degree and become a veterinarian. If you are contemplating a career as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, you should acquire a sound foundation in the biological and physical sciences and a general knowledge of the arts and humanities in both high school and college. In addition, you should be motivated by a respect for animals, a sincere desire to serve the public, a propensity for the biological and medical sciences, and a deep interest in promotion of the health of animal and human populations. You must have a high aptitude for scientific study and must possess an excellent moral and ethical character.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Admission Criteria

Candidates for this degree must complete a minimum of six years of college education. This includes two or more years of pre-veterinary coursework and four years of the professional DVM program. The pre-veterinary requirements may be completed at LSU or at any other accredited college or university offering courses of the quality and content of those prescribed in the LSU General Catalog. The minimum requirement of 66 semester hours, including 20 hours of elective courses, may be completed in a minimum of two years. A Bachelor’s degree is not a requirement for acceptance into the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine’s DVM program, although applicants are strongly encouraged to follow an undergraduate degree path in the event that entrance into the DVM program is not granted. Successful completion of a pre-veterinary program does not ensure admission to the school for professional training. Typically, there are more qualified applicants each year than there are spaces available to the entering class.

What are some of the specializations within Veterinary Medicine?

Individuals who study veterinary medicine have an opportunity to specialize in a wide range of areas that complement the study of humans.   Some specialties include Anesthesiology, Cardiology, Counseling, Dermatology, Rehabilitation, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Surgery, Reproduction and Zoological.

The LSU wildlife hospital

The Veterinary program at LSU also oversees LSU’s Wildlife Hospital which treats 1,800 wildlife cases each year. The goal is to treat and release these animals back into the wild. Their release rate is 45 percent, which is slightly higher than the national average.  Their three primary focal areas are: Conservation, Research and Education. The representative from the LSU Wildlife Hospital discussed the details of wildlife rehabilitation and presented some special guests.

What To Do With Injured Wildlife

Many citizens are quick to collect these animals because they feel that they are abandoned. In these cases, all attempts should be made to replace the animal in its nest. The old wives’ tale that the “parents” will not accept the animal after it has been touched by humans is incorrect. The nest should be observed from a safe distance. If the “parents” can see you they are not likely to return to the nest. The observation period should be based upon the age of the animal. The younger the animal the more critical the time period between feedings becomes. In cases where the “parents” are known to have abandoned the “orphan,” the animal should be taken to a facility capable of providing the necessary supportive care.

Resident Raptors

The presenters brought resident raptors Skylar and Nutmeg as special guests. Resident raptors help educate veterinary students and the community about the importance of wildlife conservation. The Wildlife Hospital of Louisiana receives approximately 1,800 wildlife cases each year. They are treated at no cost to the Good Samaritans who bring them in. The goal is to release them back into the wild (release rate is approximately 44%). Before the animals are released, they must be in good health, and must demonstrate that they can hunt. In rare cases where the animal is in good health but cannot hunt and thus sustain itself, the bird is maintained at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.

Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis)  Juvenile female
Diet in the wild: mostly insects, but will also eat small birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals
Habitat: Wooded streams or swamps; groves, and shelterbelts.
Native Range: Southeast United States, prairies of Oklahoma and Texas. Migration to south America during late fall through the winter
Year arrived at WHL: 2016
Reason for residency: imprinted on humans

Barred Owl (Strix varia)  Adult
Diet in the wild: Small mammals including mice and rodents.  Will also eat smaller birds, reptiles, and amphibians.
Habitat: Widespread throughout North America.  Prefers dense, thick woods or swamps with minimal clearings.
Year arrived at WHL: 2016
Reason for residency: Nutmeg is blind in one eye and has a wing injury that does not allow him to fly.

Written by Cynthia Payton