Veterinary medicine as a profession

The work of veterinarians is varied and demanding. Typical elements include urgency, responsibility and quick, but carefully considered, decisions.

In addition to a sharp mind and dexterous hands, veterinarians need social skills and empathy, as their work often involves customer service.  

The work environment of veterinarians is diverse, and the range of positions in the veterinary profession is extremely wide:  

  • Health, diseases and welfare of living animals 

  • Food 

  • Promotion of environmental health 

  • Research, management, control, and operational planning 

Most veterinarians are involved in clinical patient care, specialising in either production animals or small animals and horses. One-third of all veterinarians work in the field of food hygiene. Food control, contagious animal disease control and animal welfare control make up an important area of employment for veterinarians. Many veterinarians specialise in companion and hobby animals. 

In their work, veterinarians face the entire life cycle of animals – besides the positives, the work also involves the treatment of serious diseases and encounters with death. 

There are roughly 3, 080 licensed veterinarians in Finland, including retired veterinarians (figure from January 2022, Finnish Veterinary Association). 

Holders of a veterinary degree can serve in a number of positions

As a veterinarian who treats production animals, you are either a production animal veterinarian at a private practice or a municipal veterinarian. 

You provide care by conducting farm visits. As a municipal veterinarian, you are responsible for the cows, pigs and other production animals as well as small animals and horses in your region. You have an on-call duty.  You carry out all stages of work on your own, from examinations to sample collection as well as therapeutic and surgical procedures. In addition to patient care, key areas in the profession include preventive healthcare, animal protection and environmental healthcare.

As a small animal veterinarian, you work either at your own practice or a practice owned by someone else.

Pets constitute your primary patient group. The diverse duties associated with your work include the treatment of medical disorders, surgery, vaccinations and animal euthanasia. Often, you have trained veterinary nurses assisting you at the clinic.

As an equine veterinarian, you work at clinics or visit stables.

Common equine diseases include lameness and respiratory tract diseases, as well as horse colic and accidents that require urgent care. Routine tasks also include equine vaccinations and dental care. In addition, you may carry out demanding surgical and other procedures at clinics.



As a food hygiene veterinarian, you usually work in a business active in the food sector.

As a veterinarian, you prevent veterinary diseases, ensure the sanitary quality of food and safeguard the food chain, from farm to fork.

You work as an inspection veterinarian at slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, with the responsibility for meat inspection and ensuring animal protection and slaughterhouse hygiene. You monitor dairies as well as food commerce and distribution. 

As a researcher, you work as a university teacher, a researcher at a government institute or in the pharmaceutical industry.

As a researcher, you specialise in a topic of interest to you, such as food and environmental hygiene, microbiology, pathology, animal welfare and behaviour, or a range of clinical subjects.

Career stories

You can read about the veterinary profession and veterinarians on the website of the Finnish Veterinary Association

Also read the interviews (in Finnish only) of the recipients of the Veterinarian of the Year prize representing the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine: 

  • 2021: Read the interview of Suvi and Teppo Heinola, veterinary entrepreneurs, social media influencers, promoters of animal welfare and fosterers of joint development 

  • 2020: Read the interview of Ruska Rimhanen-Finne, a disease detective at the heart of the interconnected health of animals and humans 

  • 2019: Read the interview of Teija Korhonen, who went from maverick to international expert