How to start a career in Veterinary Medicine - Mary Fraser

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Many of you may have been watching the new series of All Creatures Great and Small, following Yorkshire vet James Herriot. As a vet in the 1930s the main focus was on horses and farm animals, but the life of a vet has changed dramatically since then. Now, vets will look after large farms, creating herd health plans focussing on preventative medicine, rather than the fire brigade services of previous years. But what’s it really like being a vet? Well, most of us joined this profession because we liked animals. But I soon discovered that you also need to like people. Both in farm practice or companion animal work, the animals don’t look after themselves. The hours can be long and the work physical, but if you like the outdoors, farm work can see you travelling around some of the best scenery in the country. I started out in the north of Scotland, seeing dolphins in the bay every morning.

Vets don’t just work in practice. They can work for government, in laboratories, university, research, education, food production or aquaculture. It’s not easy. Many people see vets as just that – the person who vaccinates their dog, or put their arm up a cow’s backside. After a 5 year degree, it’s a thought to go on and complete a Masters, or PhD, but many vets do, specialising in specific areas, such as zoo animals, surgery, ophthalmology or public health. The veterinary degree is a broad one covering a diverse list of subjects looking at anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, epidemiology and communication skills to name a few. The pandemic has shown that animal and human health are not separate, and vets across the world should be contributing to the work on Covid 19 and any other future pandemics.

If you’re interested in a career in veterinary medicine then you can find out more at from the British Veterinary Association ( ) the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons ( ), Glasgow Vet School ( ) and Edinburgh Vet School ( ).

- from guest blogger Mary Fraser HEAD OF SKILLS & TALENT, Scottish Aquaculture