Does the process at all differ for those who would like to become professors?

SummerTheLynx

The Bioinformatics DVM student
5+ Year Member
Dec 12, 2013
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Hey all,

So, my game plan past vet school, or at least my anticipated plan, differs from that of many people. In my ideal plan, I would like to become a professor of immunology (at vet school), as well as hopefully become an instructor for clinical rounds. This leads me to several questions, both about the process to become a professor and beyond.

-Would a DVM be acceptable in order to take up a professor position, or would I need to become a DVM/PhD in order to become a professor?
-Is an instructor at the university level required to do research, or is working in the school's veterinary hospital, both via an instructor position as well as a practicing specialist acceptable?
-Is teaching at the vet school level similar to other teaching positions at universities in that they prefer to obtain instructors straight out of school (in this case a residency), or would they prefer the person to have a fair amount of experience prior to becoming an instructor?
-Is there anything that one can do to boost their chances of becoming an instructor that anyone is aware of? ie. Obtaining a masters prior in teaching, going through a certain residency that is more desired for a professor than others, etc.
-Any other general advice or things to know about the process to become a professor.

Thank you all, I truly appreciate any information that can be provided on this matter.
 

twelvetigers

stabby cat
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Mar 12, 2008
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You could teach immuno at a vet school without a DVM, but you would need a PhD no matter what. I would think about that a bit.

I guess I should say... we have a few profs that aren't also DVMs, but most are. So 'could' is the big word here. Maybe just... that's a lot of school to go through to teach, so give it lots of consideration? That's mostly what I mean.
 

Lab Vet

Clinical Veterinarian, Global CRO
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Aug 6, 2011
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Here's a secret: Most university faculty have NO formal training in educational pedagogy- at all. When I enrolled in graduate school (I taught intro through advanced lectures and laboratories every quarter of my graduate degree), I was handed a laboratory manual and basically told, 'get to it, champ.' I was all of 6 months older than the students I would be instructing. Although I am not yet a veterinary student, I have spent a good portion of my career working in academic institutions as research staff. If you are seriously interested in academic instruction as opposed to clinical medicine (or another aspect of what the DVM degree affords; I, for instance, am particularly interested in the regulatory aspects of lab animal medicine), I highly recommend going the PhD route. First, to teach at what is known as an 'R1' (first-tier research institution) [this would include the majority of veterinary schools], instruction would be your secondary responsibility- and I mean secondary with a capital S. Research would be your primary focus- with the number one goal being bringing in big dollar grants for the parent institution along with several publications in prestigious journals. Most R1 institutions do not reward excellence in teaching- it's publications and grants that matter for faculty advancement. Teaching is an afterthought (literally). If you're really into academic instruction, I recommend setting your sights on teaching at a community college. These institutions reward their faculty for excellence in teaching. Multiple friends from my graduate cohort went this direction post-graduation because they loved to teach, and wanted to work at institutions who valued quality instruction as much as they did. Be forewarned. Whether you're teaching at a veterinary school, a medical school, an engineering school, etc....teaching is not what's driving you're profession. You'll need a PhD at these institutions, and you'll be expected to manage a high-powered laboratory. Count on it. You mentioned that you were interested in Immunology. I'm considering this a basic science. I'll hold out a caveat for clinical instruction because I don't have any direct experience with instruction in the clinical sciences as of yet. Professors of clinical science also conduct research (I currently work for a human surgeon at a major US medical school who maintains a giant clinical research program as well as a basic science research program- he's a star). He's a professor of clinical science, not basic science. He only teaches 1 lecture per year. Sorry to rain on your parade, but I don't think a DVM degree is where it's at for you. Also, think about whether or not you want to do research. This will be demanded at larger institutions. As for getting your foot in the door with research, are you currently attending undergrad? Many laboratories recruit for undergrad assistants. As someone who has hired folks for such positions in the past, let me add this warning. If you work for/volunteer for a laboratory, please be sure that you can commit the time that is asked. You'll learn from the ground up, and senior level lab folks will have much to teach you. Working for a laboratory animal veterinarian will be harder to come by. The 'cases' you will see in this scenario will also be quite different than traditional work in a hard-core basic science laboratory. Given your interest in Immuno teaching, I would recommend going the basic science route. It's easier to come by (try emailing some profs in your school's Immuno department, tell them that you've read about their work, and are interested in gaining some research experience, would they be willing to take you on as a volunteer?), and is the type of work that will be expected of you as a Professor. Hope that this was helpful!
 

that redhead

7+ Year Member
Feb 26, 2010
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We had a couple of PhD "only" professors in first year, but since then we have pretty much only DVMs (usually with at least a Masters, if not a PhD). All of our professors have some level of clinical experience (a couple of residents as guest lecturers) and that brings a lot to a course, at least in my opinion. And obviously you need to have the clinical experience to be a part of clinical rounds, etc. There isn't any particular program or path that seems to be the golden ticket in (and most, if not all, professors don't have any specific educational training) but as some will tell you, a PhD is becoming more and more important in addition to your DVM.

If you're really interested in immunology, get your PhD, get some teaching and research experience, and go from there.
 
Jan 18, 2006
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Veterinarian
Hey all,

So, my game plan past vet school, or at least my anticipated plan, differs from that of many people. In my ideal plan, I would like to become a professor of immunology (at vet school), as well as hopefully become an instructor for clinical rounds. This leads me to several questions, both about the process to become a professor and beyond.

-Would a DVM be acceptable in order to take up a professor position, or would I need to become a DVM/PhD in order to become a professor?
-Is an instructor at the university level required to do research, or is working in the school's veterinary hospital, both via an instructor position as well as a practicing specialist acceptable?
-Is teaching at the vet school level similar to other teaching positions at universities in that they prefer to obtain instructors straight out of school (in this case a residency), or would they prefer the person to have a fair amount of experience prior to becoming an instructor?
-Is there anything that one can do to boost their chances of becoming an instructor that anyone is aware of? ie. Obtaining a masters prior in teaching, going through a certain residency that is more desired for a professor than others, etc.
-Any other general advice or things to know about the process to become a professor.

Thank you all, I truly appreciate any information that can be provided on this matter.
1) As someone who also wants to enter clinical professorship....yes, in this day and age a PhD (or at least some form of post-DVM or post-residency research + pubs) is almost universally required, especially at vet schools since most of them are very research-heavy. I have a DVM + 3 year residency and board certification, but no school would hire me as a professor unless I also had a PhD - hence why I'm getting one now ;)

2) There are various types of professorships - clinical professors tend to do more clinical stuff, and tenure-track more research. Every position varies on the teaching vs diagnostics vs research division of labor.

3) Schools will generally not accept a specialist straight out of residency unless they also have a MS or preferably a PhD as well. This does vary by field, but with something like immunology I guarantee you'll need one.

4) Publications, publications, publications. That's what will get you hired. Sad but true. Publications and recommendations. No residency is considered "better" for a professorship, because every specialty can produce professors.