Educating the Veterinary Students of Tomorrow
Undertaking work experience is an essential part of every veterinary application. It will not only help you finalise your decision on whether veterinary is the right career for you, but is it is also used by universities to select applicants for interview.
Work experience gives you a chance to understand the role of the vet and experience different veterinary careers (e.g. farm vs small animal work as well as labs, their role in abbatoirs etc). You will be required to complete EMS (work experience but in your vet school holidays) so it gives you a chance to understand what will be involved in a veterinary degree, and also to work with different animal species so you can practise handling them and ensure that pursuing a degree with animals is what you want to do.
Different veterinary schools require different amounts of work experience prior to applying, and these can be found on each university website. There will be a summary page soon so stay tuned!...
For now, take a look at these tabs - there is loads of useful information about what to expect on work experience and how to make the most of them, including lots of photos provided by current vet students!
At the end of the placement:
On the penultimate day of any placement, ask a member of staff to write you a short reference. It’s usually best to ask the person you’ve spent the most time with; if there isn’t one particular person, choose someone nice! I always found it better to get the reference before I left, otherwise it won’t get done straight away and you might find yourself having to chase it up. References are invaluable when you’re getting other work experience placements, or for your university application.
Finally, always make sure you thank the staff properly. A polite well-written thank you card always goes down well - as do chocolates and cakes (don't feel obliged to do this, but if you have had a good placement and intend on going back it will go down well!).
Top Tips From Vet Students:
1. Always take a notebook and pen on work experience - you don't need to write down every detail, but recording interesting cases and how you felt about certain aspects of it shows initiative and makes you look really enthusiastic (e.g. was it a positive outcome for the animal, the client and the vet?). This gives you lots to talk about and discuss in your interviews!
2. Try and learn some basics like which diseases routine vaccinations cover, common cases, common breeds etc. This will make your life loads easier in first year when you are expected to recognise several different breeds of cats!
3. NEVER be afraid to ask questions during work experience. Make the most of it.
4. Don’t expect to be doing “vetty” things all the time - a lot of your time will be spent mopping, poo picking, washing up etc. This comes as a surprise to a lot of work experience students, but the better you get to know the staff the more they will let you do, so be enthusiastic if you can!