Advice for Veterinary Medicine applicants (and parents!)

Applying to vet school can be an overwhelming process for both parents and students. However these are some bits of advice that may help you during the process :)

Top tips for students applying to Veterinary Medicine:

  • Start at the bottom and work your way up. Many student become frustrated that they cannot secure any work experience at vets practices; however learn the basics of animal husbandry and then try again. Go to work in a cattery, kennels, stables or farm and learn how a normal animal looks and how to handle animals before approaching the vets. Once you have done this ask the people you have been working with what vets they use to treat their animals and if they would be happy to write you a letter of recommendation. Obtaining a placement on recommendation is ofter a lot quicker and easier than writing heaps of emails to people you don’t know.

  • Always think about both sides of every argument. There are lots of controversial topics in veterinary medicine and farming and it is important that throughout work experience you try and consider both. For example: an owner ask your to put a healthy dog to sleep without expanding on the reason why. Now most peoples immediate reaction would be to ‘I don’t want to put this animal to sleep, i’m going to rehome it'- which is very reasonable however it is important to delve deeper into the topic. Often people want to put animal to sleep because they have shown signs of aggression (which can be due to pain, changes in environment or it can be genuine aggression) or the owner has had a change in circumstances and can no longer afford to keep the animal. It is also worth considering what will happen to the animal if you refuse to put it to sleep; will the owner let it out onto the streets out of desperation? Doing this on work experience will help you prepare for the ethical and welfare questions that may come up during interview.

  • Write a work experience dairy. When you are on work experience you can recall situations clearly however a year later at your vet school interview it may not be as easy. Make sure you write down your experiences and try and reflect on them. When you go home look up diagnoses that you have seen the vet give during the day and make sure you have a good understanding; this will make it much easier to recall during interviews.

  • Writing a personal statement for veterinary medicine can be difficult. Before you start typing write down a list of characteristics that makes a good vet- e.g.: empathetic, able to prioritise, good communicator. Make sure that throughout your statement you are giving examples of you demonstrating these characteristics whilst on work experience or within day to day life. Avoid listing what work experience you have completed; the people reading you application will be reading you work experience form and will not appreciate reading the same thing twice.

Advice for parents who’s son/daughter is applying to Veterinary Medicine:

  • Make sure all the deadlines are on the calendar. During A levels students are often so busy completing work experience, homework and writing their applications they sometime forget to double check submission dates. Make sure the UCAS application date (which is earlier for veterinary medicine applicants than normal UCAS applicants) and the due date for work experience forms is in bold on the calendar. Missing the deadline for the work experience forms can often result in the application being immediately dismissed so make sure they are in on time to avoid disappointment.

  • UCAS, UCAS, UCAS… UCAS is portal in which student submit their applications to vet school. You can make 5 applications though UCAS however only 4 of these can be for Veterinary Medicine. This may seems silly however the 5th application should be for a subject with lower entry requirements; this means that if your son/daughter does not achieve the grades for Veterinary Medicine on results day they still have the opportunity to complete a degree elsewhere. If Veterinary Medicine is the ONLY subject your son/daughter will consider it is worth looking at the pre-vet courses that run at some of the universities; these are a year long course that lead onto a Veterinary Medicine degree and can often count as the 5th (non Veterinary Medicine) UCAS application.

  • Visit the universities. Vet schools are very different in their set up with each school having their strengths and weaknesses. It is important to try and have a look at the ones your son or daughter is planning on applying for; the last think you want is to turn up for an interview and dislike the location or the people.

We are happy to give help and advice to both patents and students regarding applications; if you would like some help please get in touch via contact page. If you are interested in gaining equine and farm animal veterinary work experience make sure you take a look at our Pre-Vet course running throughout August 2019.

Good luck with your applications :)