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Studying Veterinary Medicine

One of the most popular and attractive careers for students with biological interests is Veterinary Medicine/Science. In order to qualify as a veterinary surgeon you must study at one of the six universities that offer courses approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). This is the governing body of the profession in the UK and their informative website is at www.rcvs.org.uk .

Under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, only those registered with the RCVS are allowed to diagnose and treat animals in this country. Veterinary degrees are monitored and standards of training are maintained through formal visits undertaken by RCVS.

Undergraduate degrees in veterinary science (UCAS code D100) last five years (or six in some cases) and they are all validated by the RCVS. In addition, some universities have accreditation from the European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education and approval from the American Veterinary Medicine Association.

The degrees offered vary slightly (BVSc, BVetMed, BVM&S), BVMS and VetMB) but all are equivalent when recognised by the RCVS. Validated degrees are offered by the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and London at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). If you apply to Cambridge you must look carefully at their website because not all Colleges accept veterinary medicine students.

Please note that you can apply to only four universities on your UCAS form.

Entrance Requirements

There is intensive competition for places and you will be expected to achieve at least grades of AAB in your “A” levels, frequently AAA is required. Some have given notice that they will require at least one A* grade from 2017 entry. Similarly high grades will be expected in the International Baccalaureate usually with an overall requirement of 36 points. The subjects you offer must include Biology and Chemistry and you may be asked for a third science. These are guidelines only, and you will need to check the precise requirements of each university before applying through UCAS.

Currently (2016) two universities (Cambridge and RVC) use the results of the BMAT ( www.admissionstests.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/adt/bmat ) when considering applicants. If you intend to apply to either of those universities, you must ensure that you enter for BMAT.

You must realise that high academic achievement is only one of the criteria used for admission to an undergraduate veterinary course. All universities require you to have work experience and will call you for interview before offering a place.

Practical Experience

In addition to academic qualifications, all candidates are expected to gain as much, and as varied work experience as possible. The exact amount expected varies between the universities but the minimum is 4 weeks in at least two different places. This experience helps you acquire a realistic understanding of the demands of the profession. You need to look carefully at the individual universities because some require considerably more than 4 weeks.

You work experience should include a veterinary practice, both large and small animal if possible, and time on livestock farms (dairy and lambing are particularly useful) or other animal establishments such as zoos, kennels, catteries, wildlife centres, pig or poultry farms and stables. A day at an abattoir is recommended (but not required) by some places. Work experience in a veterinary or biomedical laboratory is useful as well. Some universities ask for further information such as a Work Experience Summary form or similar document. Check the requirement with each place and the closing date for submission.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is very important part of the application for vets. You must give a clear account of the ways in which your work experience has given you a realistic impression of the demands of a practicing veterinary surgeon. You should sow also that you have gained an idea of the range of possible careers in veterinary medicine. In addition, course selectors expect you to have interest outside veterinary science, that you have been involved in other activities associated with your school, college or local community. Finally it is helpful if you can show that you have initiative and achievements in some non-academic sphere.

Interviews

All universities interview candidates to whom they might offer a place. Generally it is conducted by at least two academics from the department who will explore the factors listed above for your personal statement and the contents of your Work Experience Summary. The interview will be probing and demanding about your interest and motivation to be a vet. Expect to b asked about anything that you have written in your personal statement.

Usually you will be given a tour of the department and its facilities that will give you an idea of what the course involves. You need to like the environment because the course is long and very demanding.

UK Universities offering Veterinary Medicine Degree

University of Cambridge

The Royal Veterinary College, London

University of Liverpool

University of Edinburgh

University of Glasgow

University of Nottingham

University of Bristol