Become a Vet
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How to Become a Vet
One of the most prestigious careers, highly rewarding, with an attractive salary package attached to it, is the career of a vet. Naturally, a love for animals is a crucial characteristic every veterinary surgeon must have, but alongside that, it takes great communication skills and empathy in the characteristics of any veterinary practitioner to cope with the demands of the job.
It’s not only animals vets take care of. It’s their human companions too. Pets are part of a family home, and when they turn sick… the vet becomes the family doctor.
Pet owners may know about preventative care and take every reasonable precaution to protect their pets’ health, but ultimately, just as humans, they become sick from time to time.
During those times, it’s the duty of the vet to uphold the veterinary oath they take when they graduate and become a veterinary surgeon. The pledge to always act in the best interests of animal welfare.
The vet decides on the best course of treatment for the animal, and advises the pet owner, explaining the condition the animal has, the course of treatment being recommended, the possible side effects, and any longer lasting implications that may occur.
Sometimes, in the interests of animal welfare, the recommended course of action will be to be to the animal to sleep. That’s always done as a last resort and all possible courses of treatment will be considered first.
That’s the worst part. Sitting down with a pet owner advising euthanasia. That’s where people skills will really be required.
It’s not always family pets you’ll be treating either. Animal welfare involves every animal on the planet. It’s part of the reason that most positions in a vet practice require their staff to have a drivers licence.
Vets can be in the operating theatre carrying out a routine clinical surgery such as neutering, only to finish up, scrub up, and head out to a farmyard, dealing with cattle, perhaps caught up on the wire fences in the countryside, or even a bird in difficulty in a local park.
There’s no telling what type of animal or the sickness any animal will experience on any given day. That’s why it takes so long to go through the training to become a veterinary surgeon, and learn about all the different treatments, and surgical procedures before graduating and starting on your career journey.
Post graduation, you can expect to find work as a veterinary assistant. The reason you’ll be an assistant in the first year is because at that stage in your career, it’s recognised as your Professional Development Stage. (PDP).
During this phase, the RCVS require vets to maintain a record of development, which will be logged with your Year One Competency Check.
The first year could also be the year that shapes your career, as you might find that the general practice in a vet clinic isn’t something you feel you want to do. In that case, the continued training you do could move into another field, such as farm animals or wild life.
The more experience you gain in a veterinary practice, or in an animal hospital, will lead you to being promoted to a senior assistant.
After that, the next opportunity is the chance to buy a stake in the practice, or set up your own vets practice.
Most veterinary surgeons are self-employed, however, there are jobs in the public sector too, such as working in animal welfare, zoos, the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, or you could move in a completely different direction and focus more on the medicines side of animal care, working for the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.
There’s a range of job opportunities, both private and in the public sector, along with a variety of expert areas a qualified veterinary surgeon would be suited too.
How to Become a Vet
Veterinary training requires educating in medical science.
Due to the high number of university applicants, there is a strict criteria to meet for entry into the few universities that offer the courses.
An “A” level in Biology, coupled with Physics, Maths, and Chemistry are typically required. “A” levels in other subjects may be considered acceptable, so long as they’re accompanied a BTEC or similar recognised qualification in “animal science”.
In order to be considered for enrolment, it’s expected that students have some working background in the animal field, therefore, voluntary work with animal charities will go a long way to getting yourself noticed amidst the huge number of student applications.
Preferable work experience would involve animal handling of livestock, so farms are a great place to get involved in, as well as within vet practices.
Applications for all veterinary schools are made through UCAS (University and College Admission Service).
Only veterinary schools approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, (RCVS), can offer veterinary surgeon training, which any course will take a minimum five years and can run as long as seven years to complete depending on the university and then all practitioners are required to be registered with the RCVS.
Continued training is required upon graduation, and there is also the opportunity to narrow your career into specialist niche areas within veterinary care.
Some specialist areas include:
- Soft tissue
Once graduated, there are continual learning programs for professional career development provided and required through the RCVS.