Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in the Philippines

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) is a six year degree program consisting of a two year preparatory (pre-vet) and a four year proper curriculum. The program provides theoretical knowledge and practical experience in animal production and diagnosis, as well as in the prevention, treatment and control of clinical disorders and diseases in companion animals (pets), exotic animals (wild/zoo) and farm animals.

The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program teaches students the anatomy and physiology of the animal body as well as the different common animal diseases. It focuses on training students in diagnostic procedures, radiology and imaging technology, animal pharmacology, physical examination procedures, preventive medicine techniques and skills for communicating with animal owners.

Subjects and Curriculum

The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program curriculum is divided in two parts: the two year preparatory curriculum and the four year curriculum proper.

  • Two year Pre-Vet curriculum

    • General Education courses: Language and Humanities Cluster, Mathematics, Computer and Natural Science Cluster, Social Sciences Cluster, Mandated Subjects, Principles of Management
    • Basic Science courses: General Inorganic Chemistry, General Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Zoology, Botany, Physics
    • Electives: Principles of Accounting, Writing of Scientific Paper, Agribusiness, Sociology, Statistics for Biological Sciences, Animal Ecology, Animal Welfare, Introduction to Molecular Biology, Principles of Ecology
  • Four year Veterinary Medicine curriculum

    • Basic Animal Science Courses: Principles of Animal and Economics Production, Principles of Animal Nutrition, Principles of Breeding and Genetics, Poultry Production and Flock Health Management, Swine Production and Health Management, Ruminant Production and Health Management, Equine Production and Health Management.
      Electives: Aquaculture, Farm Structures, Biology and Husbandry of Laboratory Animals, Exotic Animal.
    • Veterinary Medical Science Courses:
      • Veterinary Anatomy: Gross Anatomy 1 and 2, Embryology, Histology.
      • Veterinary Microbiology: General Microbiology, Fundamentals of Immunology, Bacteriology and Mycology, Virology.
      • Veterinary Pathology: Veterinary Pathology 1, Veterinary Pathology 2, Clinical Pathology.
        Electives: Special Pathology, Surgical Pathology, Toxicology, Nutritional Pathology, Fish Pathology.
      • Veterinary Public Health: Epidemiology, Zoonoses, Food Hygiene.
      • Veterinary Physiology: General Physiology, Systemic Physiology, Reproductive Physiology/Endocrinology.
      • Veterinary Parasitology: Entomology and Protozoology, Helminthology.
      • Veterinary Pharmacology: Basic Pharmacology, Clinical Pharmacology.
      • Veterinary Medicine: General Principles of Veterinary Medicine, Canine and Feline Medicine, Ruminant Medicine, Equine Medicine, Poultry Medicine, Swine Medicine, Theriogenology, Jurisprudence, Ethics and Economics and Business Methods, Aquatic, Wildlife and Exotic Medicine.
      • Veterinary Surgery: Principles of Surgery, Principles of [Elementary] Radiology/ Endoscopy/ Ultrasonography, Small Animal Surgery, Large Animal Surgery.
      • Veterinary Clinics (Diagnostics and Extension): Clinical Orientation 1, Clinical Orientation 2, Clinicopathological Conference, Clinics 1 (Internship), Clinics 2 (Field Experience).
    • Thesis Work:
      Thesis 1, Thesis 2

Students of the DVM program are taught lessons through classroom lectures, laboratory work and hands-on/practical exercises. They are exposed to a number of seminars and educational talks where current trends and technology related to veterinary practice are discussed. In addition, they also have field trips.

DVM students also participate in two practical exposure components of the program, namely the internship and the field experience. The internship and field practice are done during the last two years of the program where students will be exposed to different clinical rotations for practical experience.

As a requirement for graduation, a student needs to complete an undergraduate thesis paper related to problems and issues in the practice of veterinary medicine. During the last semester, he/she needs to complete the paper and defend it in front of a panel consisting of licensed and experience veterinarians.

Is Veterinary Medicine a profession?

Veterinary Medicine is a profession. A graduate of DVM who passes the Veterinary Medicine Licensure Examination is called a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M) (also known as Veterinary Medical Doctor (V.M.D.) and Doctor of Veterinary of Science (D.V.S)) or can simply be called a Veterinarian. Veterinarians can attach any of the three initials (DVM, VMD or DVS) after their name.

The responsibilities of a Veterinary Doctor/Veterinarian include:
  • Examine animals to detect and determine the nature of diseases or injuries.
  • Treat sick or injured animals by prescribing medication, setting bones, dressing wounds, or performing surgery.
  • Inoculate animals against various diseases such as rabies and distemper.
  • Collect body tissue, feces, blood, urine, or other body fluids for examination and analysis.
  • Operate diagnostic equipment such as radiographic and ultrasound equipment, and interpret the resulting images.
  • Advise animal owners regarding sanitary measures, feeding, and general care necessary to promote health of animals.
  • Educate the public about diseases that can be spread from animals to humans.
  • Train and supervise workers who handle and care for animals.
  • Establish and conduct quarantine and testing procedures that prevent the spread of diseases to other animals or to humans, and that comply with applicable government regulations.
  • Conduct postmortem studies and analyses to determine the causes of animals' deaths.
  • Direct the overall operations of animal hospitals, clinics, or mobile services to farms.
  • Inspect and test horses, sheep, poultry, and other animals to detect the presence of communicable diseases.
  • Plan and execute animal nutrition and reproduction programs.
  • Research diseases to which animals could be susceptible.
  • Inspect animal housing facilities to determine their cleanliness and adequacy.
  • Determine the effects of drug therapies, antibiotics, or new surgical techniques by testing them on animals.

What are the admission requirements for the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program?

Requirements at each school may differ, but these are the common requirements:
  • Admission requirements for the two year Pre-vet curriculum:
    • Must be a high school graduate.
      Those who did not complete high school education may opt to first attend Alternative Learning System (ALS) and pass the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) to qualify for college. However, some universities only offer selected courses for PEPT passers
    • College entrance exam: must pass the college entrance examination with a specified rating set by the school.
    • National Veterinary Admission Test (NVAT): to be able to study veterinary medicine, one must be able to pass the National Veterinary Admission Test (NVAT).
    • Interview: must pass the interview conducted by the college.

  • Admission requirements for the four year veterinary medicine curriculum
    • Completion of two year pre-veterinary curriculum: to be able to be admitted to the four year veterinary medicine curriculum proper a student must complete the two year pre-vet curriculum.
(See source)

What skills, traits and attitude will help you succeed in this course?

  • Love for animals – not many people have the flare for animals, since you will be handling different animals both domesticated and coming from the wild, you must passion for animals and a commitment to the health and well-being of animals.
  • Scientific inclination – the course includes many science subjects in its curriculum, therefore a student must have wide knowledge about the different branches of science and be able to understand and connect certain concepts together.
  • Critical thinking – demonstration of cognitive skills and memory necessary to measure, calculate and reason in order to analyze, integrate and synthesize information
  • Basic Mathematical skills – since you will also be able to try giving animals medications and drugs, you must have the ability to calculate the right amount of dosage for specific medications.
  • Good Manual Dexterity – the ability to restrain various-sized animals as necessary and perform intricate procedures and surgical maneuvers with ease.
  • Technical skills – the ability to carry out animal restraint and essential diagnostic procedures, including palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other components of a physical exam on live animals, to perform surgical manipulations, and to conduct dissection and necropsy on cadavers during the clinical internship.
  • Observation skills – the ability to observe and make assessments from required demonstrations and experiments. Observation requires the functional use of vision, hearing, and somatosensation, often in complex situations in veterinary health care environments.
  • Quick Decision Making skills – during your internship you will be faced with different situations so you must have the ability to respond quickly in emergency situations and make decisions quickly as necessary.
  • Patience – the clinical internship is one of the most tiring part of the program thus you must be able to tolerate physically and emotionally taxing workloads, to function effectively under stress, and to display flexibility and functionality in the face of uncertainties
  • Communication skills – during your internship you must be able to talk effectively with pet owners to determine exactly what the animal needs, as well as explain clearly to the owner what the diagnosis is and what the treatment will be.
  • Compassion – the ability to put animals and their owners at ease during a visit.

How difficult is the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program?

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is a difficult course. Looking at its curriculum, it contains a lot of science subjects from beginning to end. A student who has no interest in science, or has an average understanding of the sciences will surely find the course very difficult. The program is highly technical, it involves a lot of laboratory work; you will also be out in the field a lot of the time and your work will involve a lot of instrument and equipment usage. Learning the procedures on how to use them will be one of the most challenging parts of the course.

The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program requires students to make an undergraduate thesis paper. Students may find this task difficult because the subject of the paper are animal issues and problems. Unlike humans, animals are relatively difficult to deal with and data gathering may be hard. Students also have two practical exposures that they must complete so they can graduate. Time management will play a great role in the accomplishment of such tasks.

The main reason why the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program is perceived as difficult by many is because they do not necessarily have a love and passion for animals. To be able to succeed and persist in this program, you must have an interest in animals. Unlike humans, animals are highly unpredictable so you must be able to understand their behavior. In addition, you will be doing surgery and taking care of sick animals so you must have the tolerance to seeing and touching unpleasant body organs and even animal cadavers.

How long does it take to complete the DVM program in the Philippines?

The Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program takes six years to complete: two years of pre-vet and four years of veterinary proper. The program may be completed in less than six years in schools that follow the trimestral curriculum.

Practical Exposure

A student of the DVM program needs to complete two sets of practical exposure: the Internship and the Field Experience. The Internship and the Field Experience are more or less the same. Both these programs allow students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and practice their skills in actual settings. They are supervised by a designated authority in the establishment who must be a Veterinary Medicine Doctor as well. He/she will submit an evaluation for each student after the practical exposure.

In the internship, students are assigned in formal/office veterinary related agencies, institutions and companies such as in privately owned animal clinics, university and research institutions, animal production businesses, animal shelters, marketing companies making or selling veterinary medicines and animal welfare organizations.

The Field Experience is done in outside locations, such as zoos, wildlife parks, animal sanctuaries and animal industries.

The required number of hours for the practical exposure varies from one school to another.
(See source)

Veterinary Medicine Licensure Examination

To become a Licensed Veterinarian in the Philippines, a graduate of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine needs to pass the Veterinary Medicine Licensure Examination. The examination is conducted by the Board of Veterinary Medicine under the supervision of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC). The exam is conducted once a year.

The subjects included in the exam are as follows:
  • Veterinary Parasitology
  • Veterinary Pharmacology
  • Veterinary Medicine (including Ethics, Surgery, Animal Welfare and Jurisprudence)
  • Zootechnics (including Animal Behavior and Environmental Health)
  • Veterinary Microbiology and Veterinary Public Health
  • Veterinary Physiology
  • Veterinary Anatomy
  • Veterinary Pathology
In order to pass the examination, a candidate must obtain a weighted average of at least 75% with no rating below 50% in any subject.
(See source)

You can view the passing rates of the Veterinary Medicine Licensure Exam here.

Career Opportunities for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine graduates

  • Jobs for Licensed Veterinarians

    • Swine, poultry and livestock veterinarians – visits backyard farmers, dairies, and ranches to examine exposed animals for symptoms of disease; and providing consultation to private practitioners regarding treatment and prevention of disease, and enforcing all livestock and poultry import regulations.
    • Public health veterinarians – help to prevent and control animal and human diseases and promote good health.
    • Companion animal (pets) veterinarians – diagnose, treat, or research diseases and injuries of animals. Includes veterinarians who conduct research and development, inspect livestock, or care for pets and companion animals.
    • Academic Faculty – work at Universities, Colleges, Medical Schools, and Veterinary schools teaching veterinary medicine
    • Equine veterinarians – provide health care for horses. Areas of care include preventive medicine and treatments for existing conditions, including surgical treatments.
    • Private Practice Veterinarians – examine animal patients, vaccinate against infectious diseases, diagnose diseases and conditions affecting animals, perform medical and surgical treatments, prevent transmission of diseases and advise owners how to keep their pets healthy. The majority of veterinarians work in this area.
    • Regulatory veterinarians – quarantine and inspect animals from other countries to make sure they don’t infect animals with disease. They test for the presence of diseases, supervise shipments of animals and manage efforts to prevent and eliminate diseases. They also enforce state and federal animal welfare laws to make sure that animals are cared for properly.
    • Veterinary Researchers – care for the live specimens used in scientific research; develop clinical and preventative health programs for specimens. They also train technicians in proper care and handling and personally oversee husbandry programs.
    • Animal specialists on artificial breeding, embryo transfer and surgery – Select and breed animals according to their genealogy, characteristics, and offspring. May require knowledge of artificial insemination techniques and equipment use. May involve keeping records on heats, birth intervals, or pedigree.
    • Partners or associates of animal hospital and livestock farms – part owners or junior veterinarians with the primary responsibility of administering medications, vaccinations, perform surgeries, and provide general health care for companion animals.
    • Wildlife veterinarians – trained to treat a variety of species. Wildlife vets treat many species of mammals, birds, and reptiles.
    • Zoo Veterinarian – provide both emergency and routine medical treatment to the many species of exotic animals kept in captivity at zoos.
    • Environmental health veterinarians – study and evaluate the effects of pesticides, industrial pollutants and other contaminants on people and animals; investigate animal and human disease outbreaks and evaluate the safety of food processing plants, restaurants and water supplies.
    • Veterinary Conservation Biologist – stop the accelerated extinction process and facilitate the recovery of endangered life forms. Conservation biologists also manage entire ecosystems in an effort to preserve natural habitats. By controlling conditions within the environment, these scientists help to sustain endangered species.
    • Veterinary Pathologist – perform research on animals to help prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. Duties of a veterinary pathologist might include analyzing animal tissue, studying the causes of various diseases, and monitoring and finding cures for diseases.
    • Diagnostics Veterinarian – focus their careers on developing and utilizing state of the art equipment and techniques to analyze samples such as tissue or blood in order to deliver accurate, innovative, and timely diagnostic and consultative services to the veterinary and animal health community.
    • Sales and marketing managers of veterinary drugs and health products – head of veterinary pharmaceutical companies responsible for the distribution and selling of animal medications and vaccines; has wide veterinary experience and practice
    • Animal Behavior Specialist – observes animals in order to understand the history and evolution of a species. Specialized areas of the science include ethology, behavioral ecology, comparative psychology and anthropology.
  • Jobs for Non Board Passers:

    • Veterinary technicians – assist veterinarians with health care procedures in the clinic, includes assisting with routine exams and surgeries, taking blood or stool samples, running lab tests, taking and processing x-rays, performing dental cleanings, updating patient records, cleaning and sterilizing equipment, and filling prescriptions.
    • Kennel assistant – responsible for the basic care of animals that board at the clinic, whether just for the day or for extended stays while owners are on vacation.
    • Aviculturist – feed, water, groom, bathe, exercise, or otherwise care for pets and other nonfarm animals, such as dogs, cats, ornamental fish or birds, zoo animals, and mice.
    • Veterinary Receptionist – runs the front office of the veterinary clinic and is usually the first member of the staff to greet clients as they arrive with their pets. The receptionist is also responsible for answering calls, scheduling appointments, filing patient charts, entering data into computerized billing systems, and processing bill payments.
    • Sales and marketing personnel of veterinary drugs and health products

Reviews of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine graduates:

M. A.
Studied Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
at University of the Philippines Los Banos , Los Banos
Graduated: 2009

Why did I choose this course:
Interest in wildlife.

About my college education:
Things I learned: being a veterinarian is an all around job. Human doctors have a specialization or fields. In veterinary, we have to know them all. Radiologist, pharmacologist, nutritionist, surgeon, nurse, to name a few.

Difficult subjects: pharmacy- but most fulfilling. only a few degrees and write a prescription on drugs. Another difficult one is medicine- integration of all pre-vetmed subjects you learned.

The exams are difficult. Some shift courses, dropped out or change schools when they fail. Maybe around only half of the batch remained by graduation time.
I failed several subjects also. DVM in uplb is really difficult but can be done.

My current job:
I'm a practicing companion animal veterinarian.
I work in an animal hospital and treats dogs cats and exotic pets. A fulfilling but sometimes stressful job. But worth it.

Am I using what I learned in college:
Yep, but mostly you learn it outside college, the practical skills that they don't teach in college.

How long did it take to find a job after graduation:
Only a few weeks.

Do I recommend studying Doctor of Veterinary Medicine:
Know first if you really want to learn more about animals and medicine before taking it. This is not a course that you'll just take just because you like cats or dogs but doesn't want to learn other aspects.

Lots of employment if you are not choosy. Almost every company has a job opening.

Salary is low. Vets I think are very underpaid here. 15,000 might be the usual starting salary these days. Salary of experienced employee? Depends. But you can start your own clinic if you want to earn more.

It's fulfilling and interesting. You learn everyday.

Advice to people who are thinking of studying this course:
Always listen to class, ask you professors and learn form the best. Do not ever cheat. That's something I can be proud of despite failing some subjects. Have time to relax also. Don't be a nerdy vet. It's not your whole life but just a part of it. Don't forget to nurture other aspects of your life. And don't get someone pregnant...
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