The Importance of Work Experience for Prospective Veterinary Students in the UK

When applying to veterinary school in the UK, having the necessary grades is essential, but work experience is equally important. It provides insight into the realities of working with animals and demonstrates dedication and passion for the profession. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of work experience for prospective vet students and the current work experience requirements for various UK veterinary schools.

Why is Work Experience Important?

Universities seek candidates who go above and beyond the required A-level curriculum, demonstrating dedication and passion for working with animals in their free time. Work experience allows prospective students to witness the realities of working with animals firsthand, providing valuable insight into the profession. Moreover, it enhances animal handling abilities and builds confidence in working with different species, from small domestic pets to farm animals and equine.

Current UK University Work Experience Requirements:

Different UK veterinary schools have varying work experience requirements for prospective students. Here are the minimum work experience requirements for some of the UK vet schools for 2024 applications:

  • Edinburgh Vet School:

    • Does not ask for specific types or number of days/weeks for work experience, but recommends gaining both veterinary practice and animal work experience
  • Glasgow Vet School:

    • Requires evidence of motivation and recommends a minimum of one week’s work experience in a veterinary practice
  • Surrey Vet School:

    • No longer requires veterinary work experience, but encourages gaining animal-related work experience before the course
  • Cambridge School of Vet Medicine:

    • Suggests a total of two weeks of veterinary experience or managing animals in a commercial or charity setting
  • Bristol Vet School:

    • Does not have specific work experience requirements but considers relevant experiences within the Supplementary Assessment Questionnaire
  • RVC:

    • Requires a total of 140 hours of work experience, with specific criteria for clinical and non-clinical environments
  • Harper and Keele:

    • Advises time spent in veterinary practices and non-clinical placements
  • University of Liverpool:

    • Requires a minimum of three weeks of work experience, with specific criteria for veterinary practice, commercial animal industry, and customer-facing roles
  • Nottingham Vet School:

    • Requires at least 5 weeks of work experience, including animal handling, customer facing and/or teamwork experience, and completion of a free online course
  • Aberystwyth:

    • Requires a total of 70 hours of work experience in veterinary practices and non-clinical environments, with specific criteria for large animal experience

What are the Challenges of Veterinary Work Experience?

  • Organising placements requires a lot of time and effort.
  • There are time and financial costs, including unpaid placements, accommodation, and transport.
  • Balancing work experience with A-level studies and revision can be challenging.
  • Difficulty in securing placements is a common issue for prospective veterinary applicants.

Top Tips to Overcome Work Experience Challenges

  • Apply to multiple places at once to increase your chances of success.
  • Initiate contact via email, and if there’s no response, follow up with a phone call or visit in person, as this is often more successful in gaining experience.
  • Schedule work experience during less busy periods, such as summertime when not in school or focusing on exams.
  • Emphasise the quality of your work experience over quantity, ensuring you learn and gain valuable insights from each placement.
  • Keep a log of notable cases seen during work experience, as these can be used in your personal statement or interview.