The answer is that yes, a vet can become a human doctor after getting a medical degree and passing the medical board and licensing exams. One advantage that vets have in entering the medical field is that they are good at sciences, chemistry, and biology. Vet medicine focuses on treating animals, so the skills overlap with human medicine since many procedures are the same.

However, you may need to take some extra courses to complete the prerequisites to enter a medical program. The important takeaway is that a vet cannot practice human medicine without first going through medical school and passing the boards. Additionally, an MD cannot practice veterinary medicine unless they go through veterinary college and pass the NAVLE.

Due to the amount of debt you will accrue in veterinary school and then med school, it is not an advisable path to take unless money is not an issue.

Can a Veterinarian Become a Human Doctor?

A veterinarian will have to go back to school, earn the proper prerequisites and then gain acceptance into a medical program. One doctor John Weigelt, MD, DVM, first made his DVM and then later went on to earn an MD. In interviews, he says that he did think about both careers, and after shadowing his family Doctor, he did not think becoming an MD was suitable for him. So Dr. John Weigelt went on to complete veterinary school and earn his DVM degree. Then while working with some mentors and wanting to get into the research, he decided to earn an MD as well.

A Vet Can Become a Medical Doctor After Gaining an MD

Dr. Weigelt, MD, DVM, found that once he did enter medical school, he was way ahead of his peers since the surgical skills from his veterinary degree were already there. Furthermore, knowledge about pharmacology and other in-depth science classes were at the forefront of his mind.  A person going from a DVM to an MD must love school and learning.

You may wonder how long is vet school and then how long is medical school? If you first go to vet school and finish in the standard amount of time which is 8-10 years (depending on your specialty) and then go on to medical school, you will be looking at 12-20 years of school to get both degrees. Depending on how many classes you take each semester and what amount of your prerequisites from your DVM degree will apply to medical school. MSU has an accelerated DVM program and is the school that has turned out the highest number of MD, DVM candidates.

Going from DVM to MD?

After getting a medical degree and becoming licensed, you must also pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE). However, a veterinarian needs to pass The North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE). Passing both of these will give you the ability to practice medicine and veterinary medicine legally in your area. Luckily some of the tools like a veterinary stethoscope are the same for humans and animals.

Some people just love being in school; there is a name for such people “perpetual student.” They keep enrolling in school after obtaining multiple degrees. If getting a Doctorate is what you are after, then a Ph.D. might help satiate your need for more schooling. There are plenty of DVM PhD programs if you want to further your education and go into research. These are rigorous programs that are tough to get into and equally hard to complete.

If you are interested in public health and how veterinarians tie into the One Health movement, check out an MPH degree. Not only that but there are also veterinarian DVM MPH degrees at a few select colleges as well.

Here is an example of some prerequisites for medical school:

Many medical schools want you to pass courses in these subjects within the past four years.

Biology with lab – 8 semesters or more with lab

Chemistry with lab – 8 semesters or more with lab

Organic Chemistry – 2 semesters of Organic Chemistry w/ Lab (or Biochemistry)

Physics with lab – 2 semesters 

Statistics – 2 semesters

Microbiology – 1 semester

Biochemistry is not always required, but most schools will want it. It does help in understanding the mechanisms of drug action and the metabolism of certain drugs. Some schools require it for entrance.

Can A Vet Become A Human Doctor?

Psychology requirement – You may be able to get by with a general psychology course or a life span development class that covers human development from the prenatal period to old age.

English course – Academic writing course can fulfill this requirement if you want a break from English classes.

Other courses that may apply: Immunology, Microbiology, cell biology, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, or Physiology. Some schools have specific electives that they require for entrance, such as biochemistry, cell biology.

Before applying to medical school, you will need to get your bachelor’s degree.

Medical school is costly. There are loans that you take for this that must be paid back with interest. At the moment, there is no way to waive these costs, and many students may find themselves stressed out about their loans after graduation – so it’s wise not to take out more than your education is worth. There are many medical schools across the United States, and you would need to do your research on each of them before choosing where to apply. Most programs also have early decision application deadlines, so make sure you know when these are to not miss out on a particular school.

Can A Vet Become A Human Doctor?

An Equine vet treating a brown horse. (large animal vet)

Here is an example of some prerequisites for veterinary school:

Remember that every veterinary school has its requirements; here are some of the common ones.

Biology with lab – 2 semesters or more with lab

Chemistry with lab – 2 semesters or more with lab

Organic Chemistry – 2 semesters of Organic Chemistry w/ Lab (or Biochemistry)

Microbiology – 1 semester

Physics with lab – 2 semesters 

Statistics – 2 semesters

Communications course

1 semester of Genetics

2 semesters Cell Biology with lab

1 semester (or more) of vertebrate anatomy and physiology with lab – this is college level or higher

Why become a vet first?

A Vet is an expert in animal medicine through their years of education, training, and practice with animals. It is widespread that some veterinarians realize that they do not like working with animals (requiring them to perform euthanasia and care for sick, injured, or abused pets). Instead, they want to help people. Sometimes this is common, especially among veterinarians who went to veterinary school straight out of college. In contrast, those who entered the pre-vet track after getting a bachelor’s degree usually have a better idea of what they want to do first. It can take up to 10 years for a vet to become a human doctor – should they choose that path.

Can A Veterinarian Go On To Become A Human Doctor?

Vets must know animal anatomy, physiology, veterinary medications/drugs, toxicology, practice basic clinical skills (take vital signs of animals), perform animal surgery, etc. You can become a vet without ever having done human medicine or having gone to human medical school. For example – someone with a bachelor’s degree in biology could get their DVM – which equals a doctorate in veterinary medicine, then go into residency to be trained as a veterinary neurologist. Becoming a veterinarian is a long and arduous path, so there are only a handful of people who decide to go to human medical school after earning their DVM degree.

Due to the number of student loans that veterinarians and human doctors have to take out, it would be wise to choose one or the other.

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