How Do I Become A Vet?
The role of a vet has largely changed from what it was a decade ago. Vets can work in clinical practice (Companion animal, Equine and Farm) but aren't limited to this. Vets can work in the government, industry, research and beyond. But ultimately, the role of a vet is to care for the welfare of animals as they can diagnose, prescribe medication and can perform surgeries.
Check out Remi's interview about her veterinary journey
To be a vet, you have to study a university degree. The course focuses on the health and care of all animal species so that you graduate as an omnicompetent vet. The standard course to become a vet is 5 years long (trust me, 5 years may sound like a long time, but it will pass by quickly. There are also 6 year 'gateway' programmes with lower entry-grade requirements if you meet their eligibility. For those with relevant science degrees, the 4 year course would be an option.
There are also 'intercalated' courses where you can have a 'year out' to do an additional course (i.e. pathology, conservation, etc) before joining back onto the clinical years of the veterinary degree.
What Does A Vet Do?
This depends on what type of vet you want to be. Vets can do clinical and non-clinical roles to ensure that the welfare of animals is upheld. A 'typical' vet in clinical practice will be responsible for the animals in their care which could include seeing them during consultations, looking after inpatients and doing surgery. Contrary to popular belief, vets have to work a lot with people as all animals come with a person attached. So, a vet still needs to use their communication skills when treating animals. Working in clinic can usually be busy where it can range from seeing many different pets to travelling around the country if you are a equine or farm animal vet.
What Grades Do I Need?
GCSEs: typically five grade 7s (including the Sciences and at least a grade 6 in English Language and Maths).
A Levels: Typically, the grades required are AAA/AAB in Biology and Chemistry as well as another subject of your choosing.
Level 3 diplomas: Some universities accept distinctions (please check this prior to applying to university or picking your diploma as each university differs on what courses they accept).
Some universities offer 4 year graduate programmes where you typically require at least a 2:1 grade in a relevant science degree. See here for more information.
Universities also require work experience (on average 2 weeks/70 hours) in both non-clinical and clinical environments. However, check with each institution before applying for up to date information as this can differ each year and some places may have specific species requirements or may have reduced requirements post COVID.
Additional information forms: Some universities may require additional forms to be filled out. This could consist of additional questions or information about your work experience. Most university sites have 'admission statememts' which document everything needed in order to apply. So be sure to double-check that you are clear on specific dates when things need to be completed.
Where Should I Apply?
There are currently 11 veterinary schools in the UK where you can train to be a vet. To train as a vet, you will have to learn how to treat all animals (including cats, dogs, farm and equine) no matter what you want to work with after you qualify. Each university has a few differences despite teaching the same degree. Here are a few things to consider:
Location - Do you want to stay at home or explore a new city? Think about the cost of living too. Some universities may not have their vet school on their main campus, so make sure that you find out where you may be located as you may want to get accommodation that is close.
Course Structure - Have a look at how they teach the course and get an idea of how rotations are carried out in your final year. Placements or Extra Mural Studies (EMS) are required throughout the course where you will get to gain work experience. You will have the chance to pick the location of your EMS placements, but your rotations placements will be organised by the university either at their own hospitals or local ones.
Student Experience - Unsure if you will fit in or if you will be able to continue doing one of your current hobbies? Try and attend an open day to get a feel of the campus and what amenities they have there. Also, check out the student union website to find out what student clubs you could join.
"Slow progress is better than no progress"