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A Career As A Veterinary Surgeon

The veterinary profession has been made extremely popular in recent years with a large amount of TV programmes showing the exciting, life saving medicine and surgery performed by vets in our veterinary schools and in the RSPCA’s hospitals.   This makes competition for the few places available intense and preparation before you even apply extremely important.


Training involves a five year degree course (six years at Cambridge ). Prospective applicants are advised to spend several weeks in a veterinary practice in order to ascertain as fully as possible what is involved in being a veterinary surgeon. Experience of working with and handling animals, including livestock, is at least as important as the experience in practice.   Finding placements at kennels, dairy and sheep farms and equine livery or competition yards should all be considered.


There are universities in the UK which offer veterinary degree courses –

London, - Bristol, - Edinburgh, - Glasgow, - Liverpool, - Cambridge, - Nottingham


Entrance requirements vary:


A level

Chemistry, Biology and either Mathematics or Physics are usually necessary although some universities may consider candidates with other subjects. A or B grades are normally expected,


A good range of passes at grades A, B or C, usually including English, a foreign language, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics.


Even though the degree is intense and successful applicants will have the highest grades at A Level, it is important to have a life outside of the college library too!   Because of the stress of the workload of the degree and the stresses within the job itself afterwards, a more rounded individual with varied hobbies and interests will be a more attractive applicant.

More information can be found at the RCVS, BSAVA or UCAS websites.



A Career As A Veterinary Nurse

Applicants for the Veterinary Nursing scheme must have obtained at least five GCSEs including English and a science subject and must be employed in an approved Training Practice.


There are many more applicants than places available and preference is usually given to candidates who have undertaken voluntary work in a veterinary practice.


The duties of a veterinary nurse include – nursing hospitalised patients, maintenance of hygiene, assisting the veterinary surgeons during operations and other procedures, processing radiographs, sterilising surgical instruments and equipment, administration of first aid and carrying out laboratory tests. In many practice veterinary nurses also carry out reception duties and deal with clients’ queries.


Training takes two years and is essentially practical. The greater part of the training is given at the approved practice and this is usually supplemented by formal tuition at a local college. The subjects covered include anatomy, physiology, kennel management, nutrition, first aid, medical and surgical nursing, radiography, laboratory diagnostic aids and obstetrical and paediatric nursing.


As well as completing two years practical training the student must complete a portfolio and pass an examination at the end of each year.


Degree courses in veterinary nursing are now available at several universities, including the University of Central Lancashire


More information can be found from:

The British Veterinary Nursing Association
Level 15, Terminus House
Terminus Street
Essex CM20 1XA

Tel: 01279 450567
Fax: 01279 420886



Related Careers – Para-Professionals

In addition to the obvious careers there are also the Para-professions that can be considered.   Think about Farriery, Dentistry and Physiotherapy as an alternative career.   These are important in both preventative healthcare and complimentary to veterinary treatments.   For more information view the relevant links:



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