Those who are passionate about working with animals often end up working as veterinarians in clinical environments. But there are many other types of veterinary practitioner career paths, including some you may not have considered.
One sector that can enable you to make a sizable impact throughout your career is veterinary public health. Professionals in this realm dedicate their careers to maintaining and improving the well-being of animals and humans alike.
In order to work in such a specialized sector of veterinary medicine, it’s helpful to have expertise in public health in addition to traditional veterinary training. That’s why St. George’s University (SGU) offers a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine/Master of Public Health (DVM/MPH) dual degree program.
Read on to learn what you can do with this dual degree.
Why work in veterinary public health?
A career in veterinary public health is about more than simply caring for animals. The health and safety of animals impact human health in a number of important ways, from the stability of our food supply to the safety of our environment.
Public health veterinarians focus on health issues related to the interactions between animal and human populations. Professionals may be involved in a range of different efforts, such as preventing and controlling disease outbreaks, ensuring the health and safety of our food animals, promoting positive human–animal relationships, and even aiding in hunger relief in developing countries.
In addition to the training students expect from a high-quality DVM program, those who pursue a public health degree in tandem with their veterinary education will become well-versed in the fundamentals of veterinary epidemiology, biostatistics, health policy and management, social and behavioral sciences, and environmental health.
“The DVM/MPH dual degree program was a great opportunity,” notes SGU grad Dr. Jessica Frisch, who now serves as medical director at the VCA MacArthur Animal Hospital in Washington, DC.
“My main professional interest lies in veterinary public health, the convergence and overlap of animals and humans in society, and ways to serve all involved,” she continues. “The degree program at SGU helped broaden my awareness of different attitudes among cultures and societies toward animals and medicine.”
Career opportunities in veterinary public health
Since graduating from SGU, Dr. Fisch has spent a number of years working in clinical practice. “I educate clients daily in public health, such as in discussion of zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans,” she explains.
She recognizes the versatility of her DVM/MPH degree, however, and has plans to utilize it to the fullest. “In the future, I intend to transition to a more public health-focused job for which the MPH will be critical.”
Veterinarians who desire to work in public health can find opportunities with a variety of employers; however, positions are commonly found within the following types of organizations:
Veterinarians can find a number of public health opportunities within the federal government, including careers in food safety with the Unites States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). Other federal organizations that employ veterinarians include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
State and local government
Nearly all states employ state public health veterinarians who work with their health departments to monitor and control zoonotic diseases. Each state also has a state veterinarian who works with their departments of agriculture to protect the health of the region’s livestock. Veterinarians may also work directly for state and local health departments.
Finally, military veterinarians serve their own public health roles within their respective organizations, working in food safety, disease monitoring, communicable disease control, and other important public health functions. These professionals can work within any branch of the military and may be stationed stateside or overseas.
Make an impact with veterinary public health
It’s clear that a veterinary career in public health can pave the way for you to make a difference in the lives of both animal and human populations. The prospect of earning two degrees at once might seem daunting, but the curriculum for the DVM/MPH dual degree program at SGU has been designed to move at a manageable pace, allowing you to maximize your skill set.
If you have bold, ever-evolving career aspirations like Dr. Fisch, amplify your opportunities by earning both a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree and a Master’s in Public Health. Check out SGU’s DVM/MPH degree program page to learn more.