Going into public health as a veterinarian

Written by: Vet Times Jobs
Published on: 22 Aug 2019

Public Health

Image © tashatuvango / Adobe Stock

One of the most important, yet often overlooked, considerations of a new job is that it should be rewarding to you. In addition to healthy salaries and benefits, you want to be able to enjoy personal rewards from your work too.

The health field has opportunities for all the above, but not everyone wants to provide bedside care for human patients. This is where the option of becoming a public health veterinarian comes in.

This can be a little difficult to grasp initially, since “public health” is not something one typically connects with veterinary work. So, if you’re not sure what the job of a public health veterinarian entails, read on to learn more.

What is it, exactly?

A public health veterinarian is someone who is highly skilled and licensed to practise veterinary medicine with a direct focus on protecting human and animal populations against diseases and injuries that are threatened by animal-related sources.

Out in the field, you would have a range of responsibilities, including:

  • consulting with health officers and agencies on controlling disease
  • gathering and analysing data to identify risk factors
  • investigating, controlling and preventing diseases through targeted interventions
  • examining food production in animal agriculture

The focus of the public health veterinarian is to prevent the outbreak of diseases caused by animals in any way. This might include things like rabies, avian flu, and more.

The nature of the work

This can be an extremely diverse profession in terms of duties and the content of an average day. Public health vets must dedicate time to collecting and reviewing data, as well as forming strategies to confront different health issues.

You may be required to liaise with a number of agencies to enact appropriate policy changes, and there will be a lot of fieldwork as you gather specimens, administer vaccines and more.

The majority of public health veterinarians work in the public sector, but there will also be opportunities for private sector work in many cases.

What you need to do

To enter this profession, you will need to work towards a master’s degree in public health with a focus on veterinary medicine.

If you are already a trained veterinarian, there may be specific training courses you can take to qualify for a position, and there will always be CPD opportunities to gain the skills for roles in the field.

This is an exciting and rewarding job for a driven, conscientious individual.