Vets vs. Doctors
June 29, 2004 10:27 PM   Subscribe

Vets vs. Doctors. (more inside)

Which group in generally more knowledgeable? Vets have to deal with many types of animals (unless they're a specialist) while a doctor has to treat one kind of animal. Sure there's a huge difference between how people get treated and how animals get treated, but I've always been curious to know if vet school was more difficult than med school. If vets are made of 'sterner stuff' than MDs, etc. Any thoughts?
posted by skallas to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In the UK, the qualifications necessary for getting in to vet school are tougher than for medicine, if that's any use to you. You can compare them at this site.
posted by biffa at 5:35 AM on June 30, 2004

Depending on where you are, vet school is often far more difficult to get into, and far more competitive once you're in, than med school. Vets have to have a broader knowledge base as you point out. Hard to say, but I'd say it probably ends up being about equal, since people take human medicine so much more seriously, but I'd say that vet school is probably overall more challenging. That said, vets do usually have to learn about a variety of animals when it school, but then they specialize (it's very rare to find a vet who works on small animals, large animals AND exotics).
posted by biscotti at 8:13 AM on June 30, 2004

Vets have to be able to diagnose what is wrong with the animal when the animal can't tell them in words. Human doctors usually can get at least some words out of a patient to help find out what's wrong. Vets have to do more than just check ups, they have to do surgeries, dental scaling and polishing, deliver baby animals, and all sorts of stuff. You don't have one all purpose doctor like this for humans.

Plus vets and their staff have to be on constant guard for bites, kicks, scratches and such that human doctors don't usually have to be constantly watching out for. I'm a vet assistant, and I've seen numerous times where the animal seemed calm, and then out of the blue in a split second you've got claws and fangs flying every which way.
posted by mabelcolby at 9:57 AM on June 30, 2004

Speaking from the medical side (and knowing very little about animal medicine), I would imagine there are far more conditions, diseases, syndromes, and medications that are treated by doctors than by vets.

No, animals don't give you answers, but they also generally take the medicines you give them and don't tend to have risky or self-destructive behaviors, either.
posted by gramcracker at 10:09 AM on June 30, 2004

animals... don't tend to have risky or self-destructive behaviors, either.

Well, that's just not true. Have you ever had a pet?

Animal behavior problems could be perceived as easier to treat because when an animal displays risky or self-destructive behaviors, you can lock it in a cage/put it on a leash/keep it in the house. I guess you could do the same for a human, but with the formal commitment proceedings and all, it can be more trouble than it's worth...
posted by mr_roboto at 11:23 AM on June 30, 2004

I have a tremendous amount of respect for vets and doctors. They both have difficult jobs diagnosing problems with pesky patients.

animals... generally take the medicines you give them

My cat is currently on antibiotics and she needs to take a pill twice a day for ten days. We're on day 4 and she's gotten really good at faking it. She'll even make an exaggerated gulp. But a few minutes later I'll see the pill has been spit out. She'll know if it is her food and other tricks don't help either.

For the most part, humans know that taking medicine, visiting the doctor can help them feel better. Pets associate going to the vet as going to a torture chamber where strange humans poke and prod at them. I wish my cat understood the reason I'm giving her the pills was to help clear up her bladder infection, not some sadistic trick I picked up from the vet to annoy the cat.
posted by birdherder at 12:01 PM on June 30, 2004

I'm with gramcracker. While vets have to be able to treat a wide variety of animals, doctors have a far greater scope of illnesses and treatment options to manage.

Also, I hear the story about vet school being harder to get into than med school all the time. Their acceptance percentages are lower, yes, but that's largely because there are only 27 vet schools in the United States. First, applicants to vet schools tend to apply to all (or almost all) of the schools, so while each school takes a relatively low percentage of its applicants, most applicants do wind up with a spot somewhere. That's not true of medical applicants. Second, acceptance rates don't actually tell you anything about the quality of the applicant pool.

Vet school is actually considerably easier to get into. For example, CSU, which was ranked by USNews as one of the very top vet schools in the country, had an average undergrad GPA of 3.58. That's high, but WashU, a top med school, has an average undergrad GPA of 3.8. Standardized test scores show a similar disparity.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:54 AM on July 1, 2004

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