19 January 2017

Image of Callum Sharp - Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary medicine is competitive to gain entry to. Currently there are 10 applications for every place, and there are only seven universities in the UK currently offering the degree. The most important thing to remember is that you may have to take a year or two out before getting a place, and not to get disheartened. I know some great vets, who’ve gone on to become European specialists in their fields, who didn’t get in first time round.

To study as an undergraduate, you will require top A level grades in at least two sciences, one of which will need to be Chemistry. Several universities also require the BMAT exam. A strong personal statement with some good work experience is necessary too. Each university has different minimum requirements, so check their prospective websites. It’s important to start doing this early, as Vet applications on UCAS are earlier than for general subjects. It’s not necessarily the quantity, but quality of experience that is important. You need to critically analyse and discuss what you learnt from your placements in both your statement and interview. Don’t be swayed too much by what you read on student forums. There’ll be people on there who reel off months and months of experience, but most of the vet students I know, myself included, did around 10 weeks or so.

The first two years of the course are general science based, with some animal handling and basic clinical skills. It isn’t until the last two years that you really start to get your hand in at ‘playing vet’. You need to be patient and appreciate that the first few years will give you a good grounding for the rest of your career. Similarly, the workload is massive compared to other degree subjects. The RCVS require 12 weeks of Extra Mural Studies on farms in the first 2 years holidays, and then a minimum of 26 weeks during clinical school. Don’t expect to have long summers off, you’ll be on placement for most of it!

It’s important to realise that being a vet isn’t always as people imagine it to be. You’ll spend a lot of your time putting animals to sleep and there are often financial and other constraints which means treatments which are available aren’t always feasible. Although paid well, relatively, compared to other similar training lengths such as Medicine and Dentistry, you will be paid poorly. If you’re going into Veterinary Medicine to make lots of money, think again! Having said all that, studying Veterinary Medicine is the best decision I ever made, and I don’t regret it at all.

Most courses are five years in length, though at Cambridge it’s six, as all Undergraduates are required to do another subject in their third year to gain a degree. If you’re thinking about vet, but aren’t sure, this is a great option, as you can always walk away after three years with a full honours science degree, which is not possible everywhere else. Finally, just to say that if you really want to study it is possible. Every university takes a few graduate students, and from 2017, the government will provide tuition fee loans for this. The typical Grad entry requirement is a 2.1 in a bioscience subject. From first-hand experience, this is an option if your A Level grades aren’t the best. I gained ABB back in Sixth Form, yet, as a grad, had three offers for veterinary medicine. Good luck!

Posted by stephshencoe

Category: Alumni

Tags: alumni