IF you have a house pet and your animal companion becomes ill, the first person you would bring your pet to would probably be a veterinary physician — a professional who treats disease, disorder and injury in animals.
But there is more to being a veterinarian than just treating and giving medication to house pets at a clinic.
According to Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Faculty of Veterinary Medicine dean Professor Dr Mohd Hair Bejo, veterinary is the branch of science that deals with the application of medical, surgical, public health, dental, diagnostics and therapeutic principles to various species of animals — big and small. This includes wildlife, domesticated animals, pets and recreational animals.
It also deals with pathological conditions in animals and concerns not only animals, but also contributes to human health through the monitoring and control of zoonotic diseases such as that of the ongoing rabies outbreak in Sarawak, as well as food safety and food security.
Dr Mohd Hair said the veterinary profession has comparative medicine as its foundation and serves society as its principal purpose.
“Veterinary service is a global public good and is the front line in reducing poverty, food security, market access, animal welfare, protecting animal health, protecting public health, animal production and food safety.
“The veterinary services in Malaysia is a balance of medicine and production based on the socioeconomic status of the country — mainly agriculture and agro-based industry — and meeting the challenges of veterinary profession and services globally. Animal production is an important component in veterinary education and services.”
He highlighted that veterinary education in the country is in a process of transformation to address issues of globalisation and changes in scenarios such as biosecurity, bioterrorism, transboundary diseases, exotic animal medicine, economics, entrepreneurship, information technology, halal industry, food safety and food security.
Dr Mohd Hair said the admission of students in Malaysian veterinary schools for the Doctor in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) programme is competitive and only highly qualified candidates with good academic achievements and high interest in the programme (such as by naming it first choice) will be successfully enrolled into the programme.
“There are limited places available for new local student intakes — only about 100 in
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at UPM and 40 places in Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK), respectively, and about five to 10 per cent full-fee international or overseas students which is over and above of the national student intakes,” he said.
UPM’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine was established in 1972 with the first student intakes to enrol for the DVM programme in 1973. The first batch of 14 DVM students graduated in 1978. UMK’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine was established in 2009 with the first batch of 38 DVM students graduating in 2014.
Both DVM programme from UPM and UMK is accredited by the Malaysian Veterinary Council (MVC). The DVM programme curriculum is based on the British, Canadian, Australian and American system and is regularly reviewed.
“The DVM training prepares graduates for a wide range of employment opportunities. Our veterinary graduates have successfully gained employment in many government and statutory institutions, veterinary clinics, marketing and technical consultancy, research, academia and animal production. There is high demand for veterinarians by the private sectors, such as the poultry industry.
“Many graduates opt to be self-reliant by establishing their own clinics or businesses in preventive medicine and personal consultancy for livestock farms. Some pursue masters or PhD degrees. These graduates often secure employment at universities and research institutions,” he said.
To join the DVM programme in UPM, candidates would need to have passed SPM with credit in Bahasa Malaysia or equivalent; and either passed Ministry of Education, Malaysia (MOE) Matriculation, University of Malaya (UM) Foundation Studies in Sciences or Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Foundation Year with CGPA of more than 2.0; or passed STPM with at least Grade C in General Paper and Grade C in two other subjects. Or possess a diploma from UPM or other recognised institutions in a suitable field or CGPA. All candidates must have MUET Band 3.
Beyond DVM, UPM offers four postgraduate programmes — Master of Veterinary Science (MVSc), Master of Veterinary Medicine (MVM), Master of Science (MS), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD).
Recent trends show that females dominate the veterinary programme in the country and all around the world — particularly at first degree level, Dr Mohd Hair pointed out. And because of the high competitiveness of the veterinary programme in the country, many Malaysians are opting for other veterinary schools in the region and in the west.
“Initiatives for good governance and veterinary education are under the umbrella of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) performance of the veterinary services (PVS) pathway, established in 2006 to support member countries wishing to strengthen their national veterinary services and to comply with OIE quality standards.
“Competition for veterinary jobs will undoubtedly increase if global harmonisation yields a high-quality veterinary degree in concert with a ‘free trade’ status for veterinary services,” Dr Mohd Hair commented.
Today, the ratio of Americans for every one veterinarian is about 5,360:1. In Malaysia, the ratio is about 15,000 Malaysians for every one veterinarian.
From the total, 64 per cent is in the private sector.
Areas in which veterinary services are practiced
- Companion Animal (Clinic/Hospital)
- Government Service
- Higher Learning Institutes
- Feed Mills/ Animal Feed/Premix
- Wildlife Conservation
- Animal Shelter
- Horse Turf Club/ Stable
- Processing Plants/ Abattoir