Should I Become a Veterinarian?

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on December 11, 2013

If the field of veterinary medicine intrigues and attracts you, your affection and concern for animals is already a given. Animals have likely played an important part in your life since childhood, and the thought of dedicating your life to servicing their needs and protecting their welfare no doubt strikes you as a fine and noble career choice.

Having compassion for animals is obviously critical for any prospective veterinary student, but of course it takes much more to succeed in this demanding field than just an advanced degree of empathy. An advanced degree in medicine is also necessary, and veterinary studies will test the intellectual skills and mental resources of even the most highly decorated academic achiever.

If you want to become a veterinarian you must be prepared to meet the great challenges that will confront you, and there is no doubt that you will have to labor for many, many hours in order to master the intricacies of this complex and demanding profession. In combination with your interest in animals, you will have to demonstrate an intense dedication to the task at hand, and if you cannot stay focused on your mission as first a learner and later as a professional healer in the end your efforts to make it as a veterinarian may all be in vain.

To excel in their chosen field prospective veterinarians must possess the personality trait known as Conscientiousness and they must possess it in abundance. People who score high in this area are capable of consistent, disciplined and determined effort, and once they set goals for themselves they will work persistently and diligently to make sure their ultimate ambitions are fulfilled.

Not easily distracted or discouraged, Conscientious individuals are capable of maintaining a laser-like concentration in even the most stressful and chaotic situations. This ability will serve the veterinary student well as he or she is asked to memorize oodles of complex and difficult terminology, learn to recognize specific medical conditions and develop the precise surgical skills and techniques required to restore ailing animals back to good health. Conscientiousness is important for a working veterinarian as well, because knowledge in the veterinary profession is always evolving and diligence in staying up to date on the latest developments is an essential element in any successful practice.

A strong work ethic and an absolute determination to stay with it when the going gets tough are vital in the veterinary field. However, our emphasis on the personality trait of Conscientiousness should not be misconstrued; the empathy for all creation that motivated your interest in veterinary medicine in the first place is still critically important. Even if your technological and terminological brilliance were unsurpassed, you would never be happy, healthy or effective as a veterinarian if your compassion for your patients were absent.

You must possess an ample supply of the personality trait known as Agreeableness if you want to become a veterinarian, because only a person rating high in this category will have the patience, sensitivity and warmth to connect with and ease the fears of sick or wounded animals and their often terrified owners. If you are agreeable in this context, it means you lead with your heart and prize social harmony and group satisfaction above all else. Your natural sense of compassion is a deeply flowing river that allows you to feel an affinity for those around you, all of whom are depending on your kindness and supportive attitude as well as your hard-earned scientific and technical competence.

While Agreeable and Conscientious in their personality traits, good veterinarians are also Thinkers who must be constantly engage in problem solving in order to feel fulfilled. Part Sherlock Holmes and part Dr. Doolittle, a good veterinarian must bring the full force of his or her intelligence to bear on the sometimes elusive diagnosis of illness and the creative design of individualized treatment plans, while at the same time learning how to understand the emotions and behaviors of patients who cannot use the power of speech to communicate what they are feeling and experiencing.

When you combine a Thinker’s incessant quest for knowledge with an equally tenacious curiosity and inquisitiveness you have a natural recipe for achievement. It is not surprising that so many with an interest area in Thinking are drawn to the study of veterinary medicine, which provides plenty of meaningful challenges for those who crave them. But when you further mix these characteristics with a caring and compassionate soul and a true dedication to mission, you will have all the ingredients that are required to produce a contented and superior veterinarian.

If you think becoming a veterinarian is the right career choice for you, taking a career assessment test to confirm your self-diagnosis would make a lot of sense. Such an exam will really help you get to know yourself better, reinforcing what you believe to be true while perhaps surprising you with some new and fresh insights into what actually makes you tick.

We can assure you that our Career Surveyor will answer all of your questions and provide you with the most thorough and complete assessment of your personality traits and primary career interest area(s) that you will find anywhere. Becoming a veterinarian might be a lifelong dream or it might be a new idea that has just recently captured your imagination, but either way the Career Surveyor can give you exactly the self-knowledge you need to make wise and sustainable decisions about your future.


Truity was founded in 2012 to bring you helpful information and assessments to help you understand yourself and use your strengths. We are based in San Francisco, CA.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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