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Meet Vet, Janet Tobiassen (Crosby)

Name: Janet Tobiassen (Crosby)
Title: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Small animal veterinarian with doctorate in veterinary medicine from Oregon State University. Interest areas include soft tissue surgery, genetic defects and diseases, and pet therapy for the elderly. She trained at Oregon State University, Washington State University and the Animal Medical Center in New York City. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). She is currently retired from clinic work to enjoy time with her young son (12/97), daughter (8/99), and husband.
Web Site: Veterinary Medicine at About

The Interview

Vet Janet

KE Q: How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a Vet?
Dr. Janet: Second grade.

KE Q: What education is required to become a Vet?
Dr. Janet: High school diploma, then a college degree (biology, animal science, chemistry, etc.) in a science field, then off to vet school.
The college degree takes 4 years for most students, and vet school is an additional 4 years. I applied to vet school in my 3rd year of college, then completed my college degree while I was in vet school.

KE Q: Is it different education needed for different types of animals?
Dr. Janet: Yes, vet school is to learn about all species of animals - from hamsters to horses. You can go for additional training after vet school if you want to specialize in a species (i.e. exotics or horses) or a specialty (i.e. surgery, dermatology). There is a considerable amount to learn in the 4 "short" years of vet school! Upon graduation, students take national and state boards - these are standardized tests, like the SAT, to become licensed to practice. Upon licensing, a vet can work on the species he or she feels comfortable with.
Some schools allow "tracking", where the student can specialize the course schedule to hone their skills and classes to what they are most interested in.

KE Q: How long does it take?
Dr. Janet: On average, 8 years. Some students complete a masters and or PhD prior to getting into vet school, and their total schooling time may last up to 12 or more years (post high school).

KE Q: If a child thinks they want to become a Vet what types of experiences are good for them to prepare?
Dr. Janet: I was very involved in dog 4-H. This was a valuable learning tool for me, and there are many types of 4-H clubs -- rabbits, goats, pigs, etc.
As soon as I was old enough (16), I began working at my local vet's office. Mostly cleaning kennels, but again, a valuable learning experience, and I worked my way up. I also read everything vet and animal-related that I could!
Now, in addition to books and magazines about animals, you can find software that helps you discover veterinary medicine as a career. This title is called: I Can Be An Animal Doctor

KE Q: What types of animals did you treat?
Dr. Janet: Dogs and cats. And...the occasional rat, rabbit, and ferret. I assisted other vets with birds and reptiles. I say assisted, but I really just was like a tech - restraining the animal so the exotics vet and the pet wouldn't be injured.

KE Q: What is the strangest animal you ever treated?
Dr. Janet: An Iguana. Helped another vet with surgery.

KE Q: What types of jobs can you get if you are a vet besides working in a Vet clinic?
Dr. Janet: There are many non-practice jobs out there, and this is a growing area of veterinary medicine. The armed forces hire many vets (and provide scholarships for schooling).
Also, all of the major drug companies (Pfizer, Novartis...) and pet food companies hire vets to be consultants, work with animals, and serve as technical reps for their companies products and research. There are also many veterinary teaching positions - for vet students and in veterinary technician training schools.
The Internet is also becoming a busy area for vets. I work full time here at About, and there are many new veterinary start-up companies that are hiring vets to do web work - write articles, e-commerce, building practice web sites, and educating the public about pet care. Here are some examples: Pet Place

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Photo used with permission from Dr. Janet.