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Your Vet

Buying a pet insurance policy can mean that you will not dread a visit to your local vet should your pet fall ill. Your veterinary surgeon is responsible for the care and management of medical and surgical treatment of animals. But they are also responsible for the prevention of animal disease and can advise on any health concerns you may have. Your pet may live for many years and a good relationship with your animal's vet makes the sometimes stressful visits less daunting.

The animals that vets can care for vary from small household pets to farm animals, horses or even zoo animals. There are six universities in the UK that offer veterinary degrees. These are London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Glasgow, and Bristol. The course lasts for 5 years, apart from Cambridge University where it is 6 years.

Course entry requirements

Getting a place at veterinary college is very competitive. It is probably the most over-subscribed course in the country, with an estimated 4 or 5 applications for every place. As the course is science based, most colleges will ask for at least Chemistry and Biology A level and usually Physics, although some colleges will accept an alternative to Physics. The minimum grades they will accept are AAB with all A levels taken at one sitting.

Due to the course being so oversubscribed, it is important that you can make yourself different from the other applicants. Most colleges expect prospective students to have done work experience with animals in a variety of settings e.g. local veterinary surgeries, pet shops, animal shelters, RSPCA, PDSA, or farms. Any interesting or unusual cases that you encounter can then be written up to present to the college should you be lucky enough to get an interview. As well as animal related work experience, it helps for you to have a wide and varied non-academic life e.g. Voluntary work, sports, playing in a band or orchestra. Basically anything that will make your application stand out and gain the attention of the selectors.

Options on qualifying

As you progress through your veterinary training there will be aspects of the work that appeal to you and this will help you to decide what aspect of animal care you want to work in when you qualify. Being a vet can take many forms. The vets that most of the general population encounter work in practices that treat the more common pets. However, if you choose to live in a rural area the you may specialise in farm animals.

You may have an interest in more unusual animals and choose to work in a zoo or travel abroad to gain different experience or do volunteer work. Some vets only treat one animal e.g. cats or horses. Some vets specialise in treating animals with alternative therapies such as homeopathy, others specialise in particular conditions such as cancer. Veterinary medicine has as many branches as human medicine which is what helps to make it such an interesting and rewarding career.

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