Prior to applying to veterinary school

Veterinary Science

Types of Work Experience

Real World Experiences

Prior to applying to veterinary school in the UK, it has long been a requirement to have prior “work” experience. 

Each university has its own specific requirements to ensure that applicants have a comprehensive understanding of the veterinary profession and essential aspects of animal care that are relevant to their future careers.

There are lots of types of animal work experience you can get including:

  • Lambing
  • Dairy
  • Beef cattle
  • Kennels
  • Cattery
  • Horses
  • Pigs
  • Poultry
  • Wildlife

Get in touch with local kennels/catteries/animal charities/farmers and ask if you can go and do work experience.  Most are absolutely delighted to help and also to teach you about their farms/businesses. 

These animal based work experience placements all give you a sense of what working with these types of animals will be like but at the end of every animal is an owner or farmer so one of the key skills a vet needs is excellent communication skills so jobs in any customer facing role are also really valuable.  Jobs in which you have to deliver a standard of service, work as part of a team and solve problems or deal with complaints are all going to help you develop useful skills for being a vet. 

Recognizing the challenges associated with accessing these work opportunities, including financial costs and difficulties in ensuring quality, universities are dedicated to promoting inclusivity, diversity, and equity within the veterinary profession. 

They are actively working to eliminate unfair barriers to entering the field. While there is currently no standardized approach among the universities, efforts are underway to establish a more consistent and fair framework. In the meantime, prospective applicants should contact the individual universities they are applying to in order to familiarize themselves with the current requirements.

Veterinary schools within universities outline their work experience requirements in their admissions guide, which includes information on whether they expect applicants to have shadowed veterinarians in clinical settings and/or gained experience in non-clinical animal care settings. It is also important to take note of the amount of work experience that provides diminishing returns in the admissions process.

Reflecting on work experience is a crucial part of the veterinary medicine admissions process. Rather than being a passive observer, veterinary schools encourage applicants to actively engage with the animal husbandry practices or clinical cases they encounter and understand the underlying scientific or managerial principles. It is advisable to be observant, ask questions, and consider doing additional reading or research outside of working hours. Due to the nature of work experience, it is often not possible to follow clinical cases from start to finish. However, veterinary schools are aware of this limitation, so applicants should not hesitate to mention such cases in their application or interview.

For those interested in exploring a future career as a veterinarian, some universities offer virtual work experience courses. These courses provide insights into the structure of veterinary practice, the governing bodies involved, and the daily challenges faced by veterinarians. Participants will also have the opportunity to explore alternative roles beyond general practice and discover the exciting opportunities that come with a veterinary degree.

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