A guide to careers in the veterinary profession From the British Veterinary Association What is a veterinary surgeon? Veterinary surgeons are medical professionals whose primary responsibility is protecting the health and welfare of animals and people.
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From the British Veterinary Association
(Data collected 2007 from the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons)
There are seven vet schools in the UK, in the following cities:
It is possible to study abroad should you have difficulty getting into a UK vet school, or simply wish to travel and experience a different culture whilst you study. To study abroad you will probably have to pay full tuition fees, and if you are considering this option the best thing to do is to contact the universities in which you have an interest.
The veterinary degree lasts five years (six years at Cambridge) and is extremely demanding. Subjects covered include basic sciences for the first couple of years e.g. physiology, biochemistry and then becomes more practical in the clinical years.
In the holidays students are expected to complete extra mural studies (EMS). This consists of 12 weeks on farms. Students are expected to complete 26 weeks of EMS in different veterinary practices, including one week at an abattoir and one week at a veterinary laboratory agency.
At present, on completing the veterinary degree you will qualify as an omni-competent vet, no matter what your final plans are. This means that even if you have no interest in it in the future, you will have to learn about all areas of veterinary medicine, from rectal examinations, post mortems, dissections, and abattoir visits, to small animal surgery. It is essential that you only apply to veterinary school if you are prepared to do all of this.
On the lighter side vet students are renowned for their wild parties (eg events organised by the Association of Veterinary Students) and the ability to ‘work hard, play hard’.
These vary slightly from one vet school to another, but realistically you need to have or be predicted to achieve straight As at A-level or AAABB grades for SCE Highers and high grades (mostly A*/ As) at GCSE.
Admissions boards also require candidates to have carried out work experience within various aspects of the veterinary and animal industries. This may involve ‘seeing practice’ at your local veterinary surgery or working at stables, farms, kennels/catteries, zoos or abattoirs. Don't forget to get references from your placements.
The vet schools are looking for well balanced candidates so evidence of other hobbies and interests is extremely valuable in applying to veterinary medicine.
Financial costs – University
The two types of financial costs you'll face as a full-time or part-time student in higher education are:
If you are starting a course from September 2007 onwards, the tuition fees you are charged can be up to a maximum of £3,070 a year.
Tuition fees help cover the costs of universities or colleges, such as salaries of teaching staff and the cost of the facilities.
You can search for information about tuition fees for individual courses through the UCAS website: www.ucas.com
You'll face various costs of living as a student. These will be higher if you live away from home, and higher still if you live away from home and study in London.
Living costs include:
Financial help at University can come in the form of:
- Tuition fee loans to cover the cost of tuition fees- Maintenance loans to cover the cost of living expenses- Grants to cover living expenses- Bursaries and scholarships from universities and colleges
Your eligibility and the amount will vary from student to student depending on; the course, where you live when studying and your individual circumstances. For more information on financial help whilst at university visit www.direct.gov.uk
Q: Can I take a gap year?
A: Opinions on deferred entrants varies between vet schools, so it is best to contact the individual schools.
Q: What happens if I don’t get in first time?
A: If you are really set upon becoming a vet, take a gap year, get some more work experience and reapply the next year. If you still don’t get in, then it is possible to do a related degree and reapply to vet school as a graduate student or alternatively apply to vet schools abroad.
Q: What is the optimum amount of work experience I can do?
A: When considering applicants, vet schools are looking for people with a genuine interest in veterinary medicine, who understand all areas of the veterinary profession and who are willing to get involved practically. Therefore the greater your range of work experience the better, eg a day in an abattoir and working in a laboratory will show that you are aware of and have explored the range of jobs available to vets.
Further information about veterinary careers can be found on the RCVS website at www.rcvs.org.uk
Further information about the British Veterinary Association can be found at www.bva.co.uk