Being a Veterinarian means 8 years of college, all science courses, plus working in clinics and hospitals for both small and large animals. It's very hard, a 10 on the scale of 1-10. You have to be able to diagnose correctly, treat the animal, and then make a prognosis for the future. You can't make a mistake or you will lose a customer and the word will get around that you are no good.
You have to learn both small and large animals. In dealing with large animals, you would be working primarily with cows and horses and one of the most common things you would do is check them for pregnancy. That means sticking your whole entire arm up a cow's or horse's butt, sometimes as many as 30 or 40 times a day. You have to wear coveralls as you will get covered in manure. So, if you can't do that, being a vet is not for you. Also, you have to be very careful as you don't want to get kicked or squashed by an animal falling on you.
Another very common thing you would do is assist cows in giving birth to calves, especially calves that are breech (backwards in the cow's womb), and extremely difficult to deliver. Many of them die in that position and have to be removed from the cow, which is a long and difficult process. Also, very bloody. It has to be done quickly or the cow will die, too, which is very costly for the farmer.
You have to work regular hours, usually from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, but sometimes later, depending on whether you have any emergencies. Generally, you work 6 days a week and are off on Sunday. If you are working in a clinic with another vet (which you probably will), you can probably take off another day during the week, but generally, you have to work on Saturday. The great thing about it is the variety of animals that you see and the different problems that they have, and when you help an animal get well, you have a good feeling that you have given that animal a better life.
Here is a sample course list from Texas A&M.: (These are the courses you would take after you have a 4 year Bachelor's degree from a regular college, majoring in science.)
Click on the above link and you can explore that website. Also, you need to make at least a "B" grade in all of your high school and college science courses. Good luck.
When you work in the clinic, you can wear your jeans and a pullover sport shirt. You just wear coveralls when you are out making farm calls which would be a couple of days a week. I think it would be a great job.
There is a great TV show coming back soon about a vet that does both small and large animals. It is called "Dr. Pol," and is about a vet in rural Michigan. It is coming on Aug. 19 on the Nat Geo Wild channel, Be sure and watch it,
I don't know what the "best" one is, but look for one that has a teaching hospital that works with zoo animals and/or one that offers a zoo related internship or residency. OR look for a zoo that offers an internship or residency.
Question: I want to know more about Zoo Medicine.
Answer : The best way to look for a school that can help you become a zoo veterinarian is to first check and find out if they have an active exotic animal medicine program. Call the veterinary school that you are interested in and ask them if they have an exotic animal medicine department, how many faculty members do they have in that department, do they work with the nearby/local zoos, how many exotic animal cases do they work with.
The best program for learning about zoo medicine would probably be Kansas State University since that is where Dr. James Carpenter is a faculty member and runs the exotic animal medicine department. He wrote the textbook on Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. Some other top schools to consider are UC Davis, University of Florida, and University of Tennessee. But this is just my opinion based on a number of conversations I've had with various zoo veterinarians.