So often we are told that our veterinary degree is invaluable, for it shows our intelligence by representing the completion of a rigorous course of study. So often we are told that our veterinary degree is versatile, for it opens many doors in our careers. Both of these are very valid truths about our degree, but I do not think that I ever truly understood what they meant. This week, through our discussions with various government veterinarians, employees, and special interest groups, I finally understand what they mean.
The true value of a veterinary degree is that it represents our understanding of science. Not only are veterinarians well versed in animal (and that includes people!) physiology, but they are also trained to evaluate scientific fact. The undergraduate education and veterinary school training teach candidates to critically assess information presented for scientific accuracy, experimental rigor, physiological compatibility and everyday feasibility. Often our policy makers are not able to provide this expertise themselves; they are subject matter experts in other fields. Thus, they must reach out to veterinarians. Our profession is a valuable part of our government and lobbying bodies because veterinarians are able to lend a scientific voice to policy and enforcement. We can convey to others in government best practices by scientifically examining data or providing our knowledge for legislation and regulations. Additionally, our profession is a valuable part of research because veterinarians are trained to look at the big picture. We bring to the table a vast amount of scientific knowledge from animal physiology to population medicine to ecology. Not only do we guide policy through erudition, we are also able to directly contribute to acquiring that data. Ultimately, the veterinary profession offers a trusted voice, and that trust is what allows us to go anywhere.