Work experience is a vital part of being a successful applicant to UK vet schools. The exact requirements vary by University, so check these online, but the stated amount is the minimum with many applicants exceeding this amount to stay competitive. Quantity, quality and variety is all important.
How much work experience do I need?
Liverpool has the highest amount of work experience out of all Universities so if you meet their requirements you will meet the minimum at all other UK vet schools:
“Candidates should have spent a minimum of 6 weeks gaining experience of the husbandry of a range of animals, on commercial livestock farms, in commercial stables and in commercial or rescue kennels/cattery. It is also beneficial to have gained experience in other veterinary-related sectors e.g. abattoirs, laboratories, zoos or wildlife centres. Candidates should also have completed at least 4 weeks in veterinary practice. As a minimum, experience should be gained in at least two different practices, preferably one small animal and one large animal (mainly farm/equine) practice.”
I would advise getting 10+ weeks for all vet schools, except for Liverpool for which I would recommend 15-20+ weeks for a first time applicant (more for a gap year student). 1 week = 5 full days and does not need to be consecutive.
What sort of placements do I need to do?
Aim to get the ‘basics’ first and foremost and work your way up to include a few ‘icing on the cake’ placements. Like a cake you need a good foundation first.
In terms of farm work, some Universities such as Liverpool, prefer you to go to farms other your own family farm. Some farms work is also seasonal e.g. lambing is usually from Jan – April and calving may be all year round on some dairy farms, or ‘block’ calving in autumn or summer.
A longer term placement e.g. every Saturday for a year can be beneficial to add up the weeks, gain trust from the placement provider and show dedication.
Going abroad does not show more determination – just that you can afford to do so and although it is a great experience most vet school focus on UK domestic species in their syllabus so not ‘extra’ weight will be placed on doing a safari in Africa compared to a UK based placement.
Conferences such as VetSIM do not constitute work experience.
The ‘basics’ include:
- Large animals vets (farm/equine)
- Small animal vets
- Horse husbandry- stables/riding school/livery/stud (more experienced students only)
- Farm – lambing, dairy (working better than petting farms)
The ‘icing on the cake’ placements include:
- Lab work – animal testing/pathology/research
- Abattoir (2 days should be enough)
- Wildlife rescue / seal sanctuary
- Zoo / safari
- Other farm – poultry (few days should be enough) / pigs / milking goat / alpacas