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A complete guide to success in veterinary jobs

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If you would like a career working with animals, you will be glad to know that the possibilities are broad. Veterinary jobs like surgeons and nurses entail working in hospital settings mainly practising, teaching and researching. Vets also work with farm and zoo animals. This profession is constantly changing because the industry is growing in size and standards are rising at par with expectations from pet owners.

Vets are required to be qualified, with either a Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (FRCVS) or a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS), and be a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). For vet surgeons, at least two years' experience is required to demonstrate expertise that will back up the vet science degree. Salary depends on several factors, such as practice and location, but the average range is from £25,000 to £39,500 per year.

The job description

The responsibility of a vet is primarily to offer medical care to pets and other animals such as farm, arctic, aquatic and zoo animals. Similar to normal doctors, vets also make house calls when the animal requiring medical assistance is too ill to move or too large to be taken to the clinic. Some vets may specialise and work at horse ranches, farms, aquariums or any other place where animals are kept. They may either work with teams or alone to ensure their patients enjoy the best service.

A vet is often required to perform the tasks described below:

• Euthanise animals
• Examine and treat animals
• Conduct health checks
• Operate on ill animals
• Do ultrasounds, x-rays and scans
• Visit animal homes and farms

Vets work closely with assistants and technicians to diagnose, treat and discuss with pet owners the rehabilitation options available. Candidates must be easy-going, attentive and caring to proactively discuss with owners their animals’ ailments and treatment options.

Education and skill requirements for veterinary jobs

Many schools in the UK offer veterinary courses, and the RCVS provides detailed information about university admission, work experience and other reading lists. However, it is advisable to test the waters first by determining whether a veterinary degree is appropriate for you. Edinburgh University has produced a free 15-hour online course entitled ‘Do you have what it takes to be a veterinarian?’ that lasts for 5 weeks and is aimed at A-Level students who are considering a career in this field. The Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) is another resource with useful guidance that will help students get into vet school.

There are 7 universities in England and 2 in Scotland, but some students prefer to study veterinary medicine abroad. If you wish to do so, you must first consult the RCVS to ensure that you will be allowed to practice in the UK once you complete your studies. Degree courses differ depending on specialisations. After completing the six-year degree course, professional vets must be registered with the RCVS. Other requirements include perfect health, mental capability and physical stamina.

The skills required to become a vet include the following:

• Assertiveness and respect
• Efficiency, accuracy and appropriateness
• Physical fitness, especially strength and stamina
• Sympathy and sensitivity
• Ensuring the well-being of the animal
• Business and management knowledge
• Flexibility and stress management
• Professionalism and a team-player attitude
• Understanding how to treat and care for animals
• Observing hygiene and public health laws
• Readiness to pursue veterinary knowledge through formal training

Job interview tips for vets

After training is complete, you will need to prepare for the interview to get the veterinary job of your choice. The most important thing is to conduct in-depth research about the companies you have targeted and all the legal aspects of the veterinary profession in the UK. You should also learn about pet insurance, solving clinical problems and the medicine laws that govern prescription and dispensing.

In most cases, the information in your CV will be used by the interviewers to create questions, so anticipate this. Be ready to give concise answers, and if there are gaps in the CV, make sure you have proper explanations. Brainstorm a few questions that you will ask the interviewer too so that you can determine whether the employer will be the perfect fit for your career. You can ask about their working hours, off-days, shifts, etc.

Official attire is recommended when it comes to the dress code; a lab coat and stethoscope are great add-ons that will make you appear more professional. Avoid fancy jewellery, strong perfumes and makeup when applying for a clinical job. The first interview might be over the telephone or Skype, but prepare to get hands-on because the consequent interview might be at the practice.

The future of the veterinary profession

The veterinary profession has changed a lot over the last few decades, and most of this change can be linked to technological strides made in the medical industry. Advances in equipment for diagnosis, monitoring and treatment have had a great impact on the quality of services offered. Wearable technology, such as Fitbits for dogs, is now essential for monitoring the animal during daily activities. Technology also eases workload management, thus ensuring efficiency at vet clinics.

As of 2018, an estimated 40% of people in the UK owned at least one pet, and the total number of pets in the UK was 57 million. Following this trend, the profession will continue to be in demand since all pet owners want the best for their animals; most owners even consider the pet as a family member. The result will be an increase in veterinary costs for the pet owners due to shortage of staff, especially if Brexit is passed and all non-UK vets are unable to stay.

So, is considering veterinary jobs in the UK a wise career move? The profession is still a great career choice that offers good pay and a desirable work-life balance. The internet age is filled with endless possibilities, but you will still be required to follow the traditional approach of acquiring the qualifications first before considering the options.


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