It never fails to amuse me when I hear human medical doctors referred to as “real doctors,” when making the distinction between a veterinarian, aka, animal doctor, and a doctor that treats people. I know in most cases it is not any attempt to be disrespectful or malicious, just a manner of speech, but having heard this so many times for so many years, it inspired me to write about the differences between veterinarians and human so called “real doctors.” For the sake of the article, I will refer to them as MD’s.
Please see some of the most significant contrasts below:
There are only 29 accredited veterinary schools in the US as opposed to 141 accredited medical schools in the US, making it just under 5 times harder to get accepted to veterinary school.
Veterinarians have to learn the anatomy, physiology, medicine and surgical techniques for 7 species, whereas in the same number of years of school, MD’s only have to learn the aforementioned knowledge for 1 species.
MD’s have patients that tell them how they feel, what may have occurred to them, or where they may hurt. Veterinarians, not so much.
In addition to practicing medicine for just one species, MD’s specialize in one medical discipline.
While there there are veterinary specialists, a vast majority of veterinarians do not specialize and like me it is not uncommon to be an internist, surgeon, dentist, and dermatologist all in the course of one morning.
Despite it being more competitive to gain acceptance to school, pay the same amount of money to attend school, and spend the same number of years in school as MD’s, according to Money.USNEWS.Com, the average MD earns twice that of average veterinarian.
Veterinarians are infinitely more likely to get bitten, scratched, urinated on, or pooped on by their patients than MD’s (no stats on that, my own personal observation).
Veterinarians call you on lab work results often the next day and do not charge you for their time to do so.
MD’s make you wait often as long as a week to get even simple blood work results and make you make an appointment to deliver the information in person (for which they bill you and your insurance company another visit fee).
Veterinarians offer their patients yummy treats unless their tummy is too sick for them.
With the exception of a lollipop from the pediatrician, I cannot recall ever getting a yummy treat from my doctor.
You often do not get seen by your MD but instead see a so called “physician extender” like a PA or Nurse Practitioner
Not veterinarians, you get the doctor every time.
MD’s have seemingly little consideration for your time. They consistently run an hour plus behind and rarely even apologize for your wait time.
Veterinarians (not all but most) strive to minimize your wait, apologize when we run behind, even comp exams when the wait is excessive.
These are just a few contrasts between veterinarians and their real doctor human counterparts. Please don’t get me wrong, this article is not meant to be a dig at MD’s, as millions of doctors do brilliant life saving and life sustaining work every day. They most certainly have my admiration and respect. I just wanted to remind everyone that animal doctors can be pretty cool too. Look no further than Dr. Herchel Green, the veterinarian character in Walking Dead.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a globally recognized expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.