Similarly to medical or dental careers, becoming a vet is not easy. If you’re hard working, determined and love animals it might just be the right career choice for you. There are currently only eight universities that offer veterinary medicine in the UK, requiring A level grades of AAB as a minimum (although Cambridge and Bristol require A*AA in their current prospectuses), with A levels in biology and chemistry being essential. It is a 5 year course, or 6 at Cambridge, and usually requires you to sit the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT). If you think that you’re not going to quite get the grades you need, why not consider our Pre-Med course? It can only improve your chances of getting a place on a veterinary science course.
As a vet it will be your job to help prevent disease, treat animals and deal with emergencies. You might work in a private or charity veterinary clinic, a zoo, in the army, for the government or in a research establishment. Wherever you go, maintaining high standards of animal welfare will be your key priority. Daily tasks include seeing booked appointments, vaccinating animals against diseases or treating infections such as fleas or worms, regularly checking on animals that have been hospitalised and doing operations including neutering, wound repairing or dental work.
To be a vet, you’ll need to have a genuine concern for animals and their welfare, you also need to be confident handling different animals. An important skill you’ll need is communication; although it’s animals that you treat most of them have owners, and pets are often important members of families. You’ll need to be able to tell the owners what’s wrong with their pet, what you can do about it, any implications and how much it’s going to cost them. Don’t forget you wont always be delivering good news, you’ll need to demonstrate empathy and patience and help people deal with their pet being unwell.
Work experience is essential for all degrees that require some sort of care, and veterinary science is no different. You might have excellent grades in the right subjects but universities wont even look at you if you have no work experience. The best way to get experience is to contact various places that keep and look after animals, be it vet practises, farms, stables, rehoming centres or even pet shops. Companion Care Vets offer work experience to students in full time education in their 90 surgeries across the UK, so find your nearest one and contact them! Having your own pets helps too, but you’ll need a variety of placements that you can comfortably talk about in interviews and explain what you’ve learned from them, be aware that most of the placements will be on a voluntary basis. Explain to the places you contact that you’re applying to vet school, be polite and don’t complain when you’re asked to muck out stables; it all gives you great experience and a helping hand towards studying veterinary science.