Careers In Primatology
Veterinary Schools -- General Comments
The following points are taken directly from an email posted on Primate-Science,
an email discussion list with over 750 subscribers.
- If the person is really interested in primate medicine, I would recommend a
"normal" vet degree and then an internship with one of the primate
centers. Specialty training in lab animal medicine is also another option
because many primates are used in research settings, so most lab animal vets
have a fair amount of primate medicine training, and frequently go on to take
special training in primate medicine.
- In short, I think the student may have to have a short-term goal and a long
term one...get a DVM and then go for further training.
- The nice thing about lab animal medicine is there are formal training
programs at various institutions that also pay a decent salary while attending
school. As for the holistic approach, I am not sure any program does that too
much, simply because of the lack of time to get all the medicine aspects in.
- One thing you might tell your prospective student is that his/her options
for schools which he/she will be able to attend are limited. Most veterinary
colleges are state schools. In general, they take the vast majority of students
from their own states. Some schools have reserved spots for out of state
students, but generally these are students from states that do not have their
own veterinary schools.
- As far as a "holistic" approach, veterinary schools have a wide
array of topics which they must cover to maintain their accreditation. Students
must prepare for board exams which encompass many species. There is little time
other than through externships or electives to cover other material.
- In the grand scheme of things, primates are a very specialized (if special)
group of critters with very specialized needs. If you haven't been interested or
trained in these matters, you just won't know about primate behavior, and won't
get this training in vet school.
- All vet schools include training in "Exotics", usually formally as
well as maintaining some kind of exotics clinic that interested students run.
- There are only 26 vet schools in the US, and, of course, any really
interested student will forge their own way towards exotics in vet school, much
financed and supported program or no.
- The best vet schools recognize compassion and respect for the complete
animal first, in the admissions process, and do not attempt to inculcate it.
- Which brings us to the center of your question, and the traditional divide
between behaviorists and vets which has driven me nuts for years, and which I
don't really see a way around. The coursework in vet school is intense and
unrelenting for 4 years. Behavior courses are oriented towards the behavior of
domestic animals not wild ones, based though it is on their evolutionary
- And tell them not to lose that respect for the animals, no matter what they
end up doing. That's the important thing.
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