Ted Y. Mashima, DVM, DACZM
Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
Approximately one-quarter of United States veterinarians are employed in federal, state, or local government, academia, industry, nongovernmental organizations and other non-private practice settings. There is a critical need, both nationally and internationally, to increase the number of veterinarians working in public and corporate practice, including food safety and food security, infectious and zoonotic diseases, population medicine, laboratory animal medicine, pathology, and biomedical research. State governments and several agencies in the federal government have, or will soon have, a severe shortage of veterinarians. Zoological medicine veterinarians have a unique combination of health professional training and professional skills, which make them highly suited to take a leadership role in meeting some of these needs—several zoological medicine veterinarians have made successful career transitions into these sectors. Zoological medicine veterinarians often have highly developed non-technical competencies that are sought by prospective employers, including: oral and written communication skills, personnel management and administration skills, adaptability and flexibility, and interpersonal and teambuilding skills. Many veterinarians, both new graduates and seasoned practitioners in zoological medicine, indicate an interest in directing their careers toward non-clinical work in the ecologic health or animal welfare arenas and very few positions in these arenas specifically indicate veterinary credentials; therefore, veterinarians compete for employment with non-veterinary scientists for the vast majority of positions. Zoological veterinarians must become savvy in identifying a niche and marketing their unique set of credentials; success is often dependent on the presence of excellent mentors and exceptional networking skills.