Updated: Apr 8, 2021
If you’re thinking of applying to vet school, you’ve probably realised that veterinary work experience is going to be a really important part of your application. The various UK vet schools have different specific requirements, which we go into in more detail in our Work Experience Guide, but one thing is universal - having a variety of vet work experience under your belt can strengthen your application significantly. Most universities have a vet work experience form to fill out as one of the first stages of the admissions process. The Bristol work experience form is particularly detailed. So, the question is, how to get veterinary work experience? It’s not always easy but we have some tips to help you secure those elusive placements!
Consider Your Contact Method
Applying for veterinary work experience in person or by letter/email/phone are all very valid means of making contact. Consider the place you are applying to and what would be most appropriate for them. For example, a farmer may be more likely to answer the phone than check his emails all the time, but a veterinary practice receiving a high volume of phone calls will probably prefer that students send an email.
Don’t limit yourself to applying to just a handful of placements - remember that veterinary work experience can be very competitive, so if you don’t apply widely then you may essentially end up wasting time waiting for responses. If more than one placement offers you work experience for a given date, then simply ask the others if you can visit at a different time instead. They will likely be more than happy to accommodate your request. Vet work experience ideas could include veterinary practices, farms, stables, kennels, zoos, laboratories, abattoirs and more.
The further in advance you apply for veterinary work experience, the less likely it is that other applicants have already applied - and the more likely you are to get the placement! Organisation really is key for vet work experience success. If you apply for work experience at veterinary practices only a few weeks ahead of time, you may be disappointed.
When you are offered a placement for veterinary work experience, remember that essentially they are doing you a favour. Try to think about what you can give back and how you can help in their place of work - let them know that you can be a valuable member of their team. If you’re helpful and engaged at veterinary work experience placements, you’ll probably be invited back again and learn even more from it the second time around! Also consider what to wear for work experience at a vets - dressing smartly and appropriately gives an instant good impression.
Of course you must do this politely and in a certain way, but don’t just give up if you haven’t heard back from places you have applied to! Often your email/letter has just been forgotten about rather than actively considered/rejected, so don’t be afraid to send a friendly follow-up email or give them a call to see if they have any work experience availability.
Please feel free to send us a message or give us a call if you’d like to find out more about how to get veterinary work experience - we’re passionate about helping prospective vet students find work experience placements, and we remember first-hand how challenging it can be!
Written by Dr. Rebecca & the BecomeAVet Team