How do I get veterinary work experience?
Vet work experience is a great way of finding out whether being a vet is the right career for you. It will allow you to increase your experience with animals and your confidence in talking to people. Most importantly, all veterinary schools require you to have completed some form of work experience before you even apply to vet school.
What type of work experience should I get?
Most veterinary work experience is clinic based, although there are opportunities to be outdoors. If you can, it is best to get a range of work experience in different places. For example, you should try to gain some experience in small and large animal practice, at stables, at a farm, at kennels or even at rescue centres.
Another option is to try and get a placement. These are harder to get but can help you to stand out. Some options for placements include zoos, labs and abattoirs.
A large proportion of your work experience may simply just be watching to see how vets do things, including observing routine tasks and how vets interact with animals and owners.
How much work experience do I need?
The amount of work experience required really does vary from university to university. For example, the University of Glasgow requires approximately 6 weeks of animal related work experience, 2 weeks of which should be with a vet surgeon. The University of Cambridge has no minimum requirement but recommends 10 working days’ experience. Your best bet would be to check out the exact requirements from each university, which you can do here.
How do I go about getting work experience?
It is quite common to experience some difficulties in finding work experience – some practices simply don’t have the time or resources to accommodate everyone who asks. However, there are a number of things you can do to increase your chances:
- Browse online to find practices which are suitable places to do your work experience
- Drop them a line – whether it’s by email or by the phone, it’s the best way to explain why you want to do work experience there
- Visit the practice in person – it’s a great way to meet staff
- Talk to family and friends – they may know people who work in vet practices and can help you find suitable placements for experience
What else do I need to know?
It’s important to ask lots of questions during your work experience – don’t be afraid of sounding silly. You should also think about what to wear (practical and comfortable clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty), how you will get there, and keep a diary of your time spent there, the things that you did, and what you learnt from the experience. Most important of all, enjoy the experiences!
Where can I find out further information about work experience?
The Student Room, an online community for students, has an excellent resource on veterinary work experience. It also has a forum with a number of different threads which discuss all aspects of veterinary medicine.