Veterinarian

Veterinarian

Dr. Chris Bern

Cartersville, GA

Male, 42

I have been a practicing veterinarian since 1997, but have been in and around the profession since 1984. I am a general practitioner and see most pet species, from dogs and cats to parrots and snakes. In my job I do everything from routine vaccinations to complex surgeries and difficult medical cases. Becoming a vet takes hard work and dedication but can be very rewarding.

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Last Answer on January 23, 2017

Best Rated

Was there a point during your education where you had to make a choice between traditional and veterinary medicine, and what made you decide to go "animal"? :))

Asked by Vivian over 4 years ago

Human and veterinary medicine are similar in many ways but the education is quite different. I made the decision early in life, around 9 years old. But the true deciding point was towards the end of college (undergraduate). By the end of college you need to start thinking about where you are going to apply for graduate degrees, and in some cases have to take specialized entrance exams (such as the MCAT for human medicine). Undergraduate training is pretty similar in both areas of medicine. I've always loved animals and grew up watching nature shows. Believe it or not I'm actually grossed out by human medicine and injuries, and couldn't handle seeing the things on humans that I deal with daily in my job. I also have liked the variety in anatomy and physiology in veterinary medicine. We have an adage..."Real doctors treat more than one species." ;)

You mentioned tail docking. Why is this done? Seems cruel and unnecessary.

Asked by ouch over 4 years ago

Historically it was done to prevent the tails from being grabbed or caught during fights. "Fights" may have been dogs that were deliberately pitted against each other, certain hunting breeds where the pray could get ahold of the tail, or military dogs. In modern times tail docking doesn't serve a real purpose, and is continued merely for cosmetic reasons. Because it's tradition for certain breeds to have docked tails and people have grown accustomed to the appearance, the surgery continues to be performed. Many countries outside of the US have outlawed the procedure because it serves no medical purpose and is done only because people want the dog to look a certain way.

I am a U.S. citizen but am studying to be a veterinary in Brazil, would I still have to do the ECFVG program if I want to practice in the U.S.?

Asked by Elisa over 4 years ago

Whether or not you go through the ECFVG program is based on what veterinary school you attend, not your citizenship. Many US citizens attend non-US schools and still have to go through the requirements of a foreign graduate. Conversely, I believe that a legal non-US citizen could attend veterinary school in the US without going through the program. You should contact the AVMA to see if your school is considered accredited and what you need to do

What animals do you least enjoy dealing with and why?

Asked by samantha j nyc over 4 years ago

Aggressive ones! There isn't one species I like less than others and I'm willing to work with most of them. Regardless of the type of animal I really hate risking bites and scratches. It's part of the job, but it's no fun. Serious wounds can happen, though I've been lucky enough to not be hospitalized due to any work-related injuries.

How can a single vet have the skills required to treat dogs, cats, parrots, and snakes? Don't they have completely different physiologies? Are vets who specialize in a single type of animal typically more skilled (as to that animal)?

Asked by vivafifa over 4 years ago

Veterinary school is designed to give us a strong education in the main animals seen (dogs, cats, cattle, horses), a good education in secondary animals (poultry, swine, small livestock like goats & sheep), and a basic introduction to less common animals (fish, pet birds, reptiles, small mammals). During school we can focus our education in a particular area with elective courses and rotations, and by our senior year most have chosen a focus. This may be small animals (pets), equine, livestock, or something more specialized like swine or poultry. I never wanted to be a farm vet so I concentrated in small animals. I also had a strong interest in exotic pets and took extra training in this area. Once we get into practice we tend to focus a bit more. Since graduation my skills have greatly improved in pet medicine and I wouldn't feel qualified at all to work on cattle or horses in anything other than the most basic capacity. I have a greater skill in exotic pets than most vets but not as much as a board-certified specialist. Yes, the anatomy, physiology, and disease processes of these species are often radically different. But there are significant differences even between dogs and cats. Our training takes into account the variety of species, and a single person can indeed be skilled in all of these animals. In the veterinary profession we sometimes jokingly look at our human colleagues and think "REAL doctors treat more than one species." ;)

My dog is such a lover and is so affectionate. But she gets so upset when I leave and cries like crazy (even if someone else is home with her). It breaks my heart! Is there a way to train her to stop? Why doesn't she realize I always come home?

Asked by ColeD over 4 years ago

Animals don't have long-term memories in the same way that we do. They also do not have the same sense of time. So when you leave the house she doesn't remember that you'll come home in five minutes or five days. Also, it sounds like she has a bit of separation anxiety, a very well-recognized and studied disorder. There are several methods of treatment, from behavioral therapy to antianxiety medications. Such treatment requires a lot of work and consultation, and isn't something that can be handled here. I would recommend talking to your vet about the various options. If your vet doesn't feel qualified to handle behavioral cases, ask them for a recommendation of someone who does.

If someone brings in an animal that's illegal to keep as a pet, do you have an obligation to notify the authorities? And if so will you treat it first and THEN call the cops, or refuse to treat it altogether?

Asked by 7y7kan over 4 years ago

Thankfully I've never been faced with this situation as most pets that would be illegal won't come to me. If I did feel that the client was doing something illegal I would feel morally obligated to report them to the authorities. However, I would have to be able to reasonably prove or have assurance that their actions are illegal. For such pets I would have to think that they didn't have the proper permits, and if they told me they did I wouldn't have cause to think otherwise. Interestingly, most states have laws prohibiting a vet from treating many wild species unless they work for the wildlife department. So if someone brought in an injured eagle or even a deer, I would have to refuse treatment or face being fined by the state government.