Is becoming a veterinary cardiologist right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do veterinary cardiologists do?

Still unsure if becoming a veterinary cardiologist is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a veterinary cardiologist or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

How to become a Veterinary Cardiologist

Becoming a veterinary cardiologist involves a specific pathway, including an undergraduate degree, veterinary school, and specialized training. Here is an overview of the educational requirements:

High School Diploma or Equivalent
Earn a high school diploma or equivalent. High school education provides a foundation in basic communication and math and organizational skills, and it lays the groundwork for further learning.

Bachelor's Degree
Obtain a relevant bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Since not all schools offer an undergraduate program in veterinary medicine, many aspiring veterinarians opt for a degree in animal sciences, biology, zoology, or another related discipline. Typical prerequisite coursework for veterinary school includes classes in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics.

Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT)
Prepare for and take the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT). This standardized test assesses prospective veterinary students’ academic and scientific knowledge in areas such as biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as reading comprehension, quantitative reasoning, and problem-solving abilities.

Apply to Veterinary School
It's important to note that admission to veterinary school is competitive, and meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee acceptance. Applicants often need a strong academic record, relevant animal experience, letters of recommendation, and a well-prepared application.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) Degree
Apply to and complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program at an accredited veterinary school. These programs typically last four years and provide a broad foundation in veterinary medicine through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience. Core coursework focuses on subjects such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, general surgery, and clinical skills. Practical experience is gained through clinical rotations and externships in various aspects of veterinary medicine, including cardiology.

Practical Experience
During veterinary school, gain hands-on experience working with animals. This can be obtained through volunteering or part-time employment at veterinary clinics, animal shelters, research institutions, conservation organizations, or on farms or ranches. Ideally, seek out opportunities to work with vets who specialize in cardiology.

Licensing Exam
After completing the DVM program, graduates must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) or a state-specific licensing exam to become licensed to practise veterinary medicine.

Gain clinical experience in general veterinary practice or complete a one-year rotating internship. This provides a foundation in various aspects of veterinary medicine, including small and large animal internal medicine, before specializing in cardiology.

Veterinary Cardiology Residency
Three-to-four-year cardiology residencies accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provide extensive training in clinical cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, and other related areas, in preparation for the Board examination of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) in the cardiology specialty.

During the residency, candidates work under the supervision of experienced board-certified veterinary cardiologists, gaining hands-on clinical experience and demonstrating competency in the diagnosis and treatment of defects and diseases of the heart and blood vessels in animals.

Continuing Education
Veterinary cardiology is a dynamic field, in which staying informed about the latest advancements and emerging issues is crucial. Engage in continuing education, attend conferences, and participate in professional development and networking activities within the veterinary and veterinary cardiology communities.

The primary organization responsible for certifying veterinary cardiologists in the United States is the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). Here's an overview of ACVIM’s certification process in the cardiology specialty:

  • Residency Training / Clinical Competence (see Veterinary Cardiology Residency section above)
  • Case Logs and Requirements – Candidates must maintain detailed case logs, documenting the types of cases they have managed and the procedures they have performed. These logs are submitted as part of the board certification process.
  • Research and Publications – Candidates may be required to demonstrate scholarly activity, such as published research papers or case reports.
  • Training Evaluation – Candidates undergo evaluations of their clinical skills and proficiency in veterinary cardiology. These evaluations are typically conducted by board-certified veterinary cardiologists.
  • Examination – Candidates must pass a comprehensive examination administered by the ACVIM. The examination assesses their knowledge, diagnostic abilities, and clinical decision-making skills in the field of veterinary cardiology.
  • Board Certification – After meeting all the requirements, candidates are eligible to apply for board certification. Once approved, they become Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Cardiology). This certification is a recognition of their expertise and specialization in veterinary cardiology.

Advanced Training
Some veterinary cardiologists choose to pursue additional education, such as a master’s or Ph.D., during or after their residency. These credentials are particularly valuable for individuals wishing to engage in research and contribute to advancements in the field.

Professional Organizations
In addition to the ACVIM, the following organizations support the veterinary cardiology community by fostering collaboration and providing resources and advocacy:

  • European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine - Companion Animals (ECVIM-CA) – The ECVIM-CA is the European equivalent to the ACVIM and includes a cardiology specialty. It promotes excellence in veterinary internal medicine and provides certification for veterinary cardiologists in Europe.
  • Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (VECCS) – While not exclusively focused on cardiology, the VECCS is an organization that encompasses various specialties, including cardiology. Veterinary cardiologists working in emergency settings may find this organization relevant.
  • Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) – The CVRI is an organization that supports research in cardiovascular medicine. While not specific to veterinary cardiology, it may offer opportunities for collaboration and information exchange between veterinary cardiologists and researchers in human cardiology.
  • International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) – This international organization primarily focuses on heart and lung transplantation. While not exclusive to veterinary cardiology, it may provide insights and collaborations in advanced cardiac treatments.
  • American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) – The AVMA is a comprehensive association representing the broader field of veterinary medicine in the United States.