Undergraduate Veterinary Studies
To become a veterinary surgeon, students need to complete an intense 5 to 6 year study at a veterinary teaching establishment. Europe has around 100 faculties were you can study with different admission criteria To see the different Veterinary Schools go to Europe's veterinary schools
The umbrella organization for the approximately 100 veterinary teaching establishments is the European Association of the Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE). It's mission: to develop veterinary education and enhance co-operation between the establishments.
"Automatic" mutual recognition
Within the EU, mutual recognition of veterinary diplomas has been established by law. This means that EU citizens, who have obtained their degree and the right to practice in their country of residence, may also practice in other Member states without the need for any exams. At the basis of this "automatic" mutual recognition lies Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications.
This Directives provides a listing of the subjects that have to be taught within the veterinary curriculum, however member countries are left to define how these subjects should be implemented into their curriculum.
Trends: more students, differentiation and feminisation
Veterinary degree programs within the European veterinary schools usually takes five to six years for completion. With curricula intensifying and a growing need for more extended practical training the time for completion is now tending to be longer.
The available knowledge and techniques in the veterinary field are increasing rapidly, and many schools are now considering or have incorporated a differentiation (tracking) of their veterinary degree. Tracking provides a means for students to concentrate on certain areas of veterinary medicine, while others are studied to a lesser extent.
All over Europe, there are growing number of women entering veterinary school and they now represent 70% to 90% of the new graduates. A negative perceived by some is that women appear to favor a choice for veterinary careers with companion animals or horses and there is a growing perception of a need to compensate for shortages developing in other critical areas.
The overall number of young veterinary graduates in Europe is also rising rapidly. The student uptake has increased and many new schools have been established in recent years. A possible saturation, even overpopulation of the professional market has lead to an increased competition between veterinarians, but this has also favored the diversification and specialization of the profession.
"FVE is concerned about the large number of schools which appear to have major deficiencies. Some EU countries don’t even have one approved school”
Jan Vaarten, FVE Executive Director June 2007
In order to verify that veterinary teaching establishments satisfy the necessary criteria (as defined in Directive 2005/36/EC), an evaluation system is operated by EAEVE and FVE. Almost all veterinary schools in the EU have at least once been visited and evaluated. The purpose of this system has been to ensure a comparably high standard of veterinary training throughout Europe. In 2007, it was decided to go from an evaluation system to a two-step accreditation system.
Postgraduate Veterinary Studies
"A must for all vets"
Once qualified, most veterinarians regularly update their knowledge in their chosen field by going to meetings and congresses, reading scientific publications and attending training courses. This is called continuing professional development (CPD), Life Long Learning (LLL) or "further education".
In some countries, certificates or degrees may be obtained after having proven a certain level of advanced skills and knowledge in a particular domain. The required levels of these degrees concerned may vary greatly from country to country (sometimes even from region to region) and may also depend on the chosen discipline.
CPD is strongly recommended in all countries and it is not unlikely that, in the near future, veterinarians need to prove that they spend a minimum number of hours each year on CPD.
"deeper knowledge in one species such as cats "
Several European countries have already some sort of higher level of post-graduate
qualification. These are called a variety of names such as an acknowledgement or certification or accreditation. UEVP, the veterinary practitioners section of FVE, suggested to use the term “European acknowledged veterinarian”.
An acknowledged veterinarian as seen by UEVP is a veterinary practitioner working mainly
with the species concerned and having obtained additional experience and qualifications.
This system of “acknowledged veterinarians” is different from the EBVS specialisation
which is mainly discipline-orientated and is at a higher level of qualification and expertise.
Currently several organisation such as the European Society of Feline Medicine (ESFM) are implementing a “further qualification” in this case for feline medicine for practitioners in Europe.
"specialists mainly in one discipline such as radiology"
Specialisation can be defined as achieving a very advanced level of knowledge and skills in a particular discipline. This level can only be obtained after several years of intensive training and experience. Specialist veterinarians usually practice exclusively in their chosen discipline and may work in referral clinics or teaching establishments.
The organization of specialization by the European Board of Veterinary Specialization (EBVS) is a another key component of European veterinary education. EBVS has organized organ-, discipline-, and species-based colleges. Currently there are 21 specialities. To obtain a title of Diplomate requires an 4-year education program and speciality examinations.
For more information: EBVS website