Have You Ever Considered Becoming A Vet

Written by on November 22, 2012 in Career - No comments | Print this page


Educational requirements

Deciding to become a veterinarian is not a decision to be made lightly, or on the spur of the moment. Requiring a rigorous university course lasting 5 to 6 years, the background must start being laid while still at school.

There are only a handful of Universities which offer veterinary degrees – Liverpool, London, Nottingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, Cambridge and Bristol – and each available place receives hundreds of applicants. Accordingly the universities can afford to be extremely selective about who they award the places to. Successful applicants will have good A-levels in science subjects, generally biology, chemistry and one other. Ostensibly two A’s and a B could win a place, but candidates with all A’s are more likely to fare better.

Each university will have their own criteria as regards that third subject – some want Maths, other may accept a good, non-science pass – so it is always best to find out from the university exactly what their requirements are. Some of the universities now expect applicants to have taken the BMAT, Biomedical Admissions Test, which is more of an aptitude test than an intelligence measure. The universities that require the BMAT will not even award an interview to candidates who have not taken it, no matter how good their exam results. Bmat.org.uk is a useful site for getting more information and seeing sample question papers.

Other paths to university include taking a BTEC in animal science or similar diplomas and certificates that the universities are prepared to accept. Again, this depends entirely on the universities requirements and it is best to consult the institution in question as to their needs.

How to get the edge

From the moment you decide to become a vet, start gaining experience at every opportunity. Pet shops, local vets practises, RSPCA, PDSA and other charitable animal welfare organisations and farms are often delighted to have a little free help in exchange for practical experience at animal handling and treatment. This is also a useful way of making absolutely certain that this is the career for you; being a vet is by no means a 9 to 5 job and involves times of tedium waiting for animals to do something; and times of sadness and pain. It may be that you decide the job is not right for you, at least allowing plenty of time to tailor your schooling agenda along new lines.

If, however, your experience of helping out in real-life situations only hardens your determination to become a vet, then the experience gained will be invaluable – animals can very quickly pick up on lack of confidence and may lash out at a novice when they feel ill. Sometimes recommendations from employers can help your path to university, particularly if you have not fared quite as well as could be hoped.

What skills do you need?

Obviously you must like and get on well with animals! Another, less obvious requirement is the ability to get on well with people, great personal skills will not help cure the animal, but reassuring the owner, dealing confidently with them and talking them through processes and procedures will leave them with the impression of a good, kind and caring vet that they will happy to trust with their beloved pet. Empathy for both animal and owner is a must; as is good communication skills.

What kind of a vet can you be?

The obvious type of vet is a family vet, accustomed mainly to cats and dogs, with a smattering of rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and mice with the occasional snake, spider or exotic lizard for variation. Many zoos and safari parks have vets on retainer, ready to come and check on the large animals at a moment’s notice, or even living on the premises looking after the animals general well-being on a daily basis and on hand in times of emergency.

Farms and stables, too, generally have a large animal vet on speed-dial, especially in spring when problems with birthing can occur, or with racing stables, in prime racing times, ensuring the racehorses are in the peak of health before a race.

The veterinary world is a wide one, and a successful and hardworking vet can make an excellent living and be sure that he or she is making the world a better, happier place, one animal at a time!

Attached Images:
  • License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/386311
  • License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/846164

This is a guest post.  Colin is writing on behalf of veterinary equipment manufacturer www.teknomek.co.uk


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