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Working hours of a vet

Hi, I am really interested in becoming a vet and was just wondering if anyone could help? I wanted to know what the rough hours a week a vet works in practice. I am worrying how I may cope once qualified with children. Thanks!
Really depends on the practice to be honest. 9:00-7:00 is fairly typical for a small animal clinic, but I've known practices to be open between 7:30am and 10:00pm. That's usually 4.5 or 5 days per week, but then some places open for a few hours (usually consults only) over weekends. The vet I've worked with the most does 45 hours per week, to give you a rough estimate.

Bear in mind that a lot of vets are contracted to be on call out of hours, which could be a couple of times per week.
(edited 9 years ago)
Original post by vickybootz22
Hi, I am really interested in becoming a vet and was just wondering if anyone could help? I wanted to know what the rough hours a week a vet works in practice. I am worrying how I may cope once qualified with children. Thanks!


My first job (fairly average new grad job):

On paper 45 hours a week
4.5 week days (4x 8:30-6:30, 1x8:30-1:00)
1:7 on call
1:3 weekends (8:30-1:00)
Inpatient checks admitting vet's responsibility

My second job (a "good" job):

On paper 40 hours a week
4 week days (9:00-7:00)
No on call
1:2 weekends (9:00-5:00)
No inpatients

General Points:

-Working hours are based on a rough estimate with some rougher than others! On my current job I probably over-run by around 10% (30-60 mins/day). On my previous job with a busy weekend or series of nights on call, in patient checks, last minute emergencies at closing time, etc I worked more than double (ie; 100+ hours a week) on multiple occasions. Most vet contracts have a clause where you specifically opt out of the EU working hours directive because the work is so unpredictable.

-Out-of-hours (OOH) / On-Call work is very unpredictable. On my quietest weekend I had 3 OOH consults or visits between 6:30pm Friday and 8:30am Monday morning. On my busiest I've worked pretty solidly for 72 hours with only a couple of hours a day to sleep and eat. Even on a quiet night on call I always struggled to relax and sleep because you are literally waiting for the phone to ring.

-1:7 on call is pretty average, with some places it can be as high as 1:3.

-Half days and "normal office hours" regularly over-run. When it's busy or there's an emergency you cannot just walk away as a vet.

-In my first job inpatient checks were the responsibility of the case vet so if I had to admit cases I often found myself checking/monitoring them throughout the night even on my nights "off".

-Most vets are salaried and do not get paid overtime! Yep, I didn't get paid a penny extra for the 100s of extra hours I worked on a yearly basis in my last job.

At the end of the day it depends on what your expectations are, generally in the grand scheme of things veterinary work can be very unpredictable and the hours are not particularly sociable.
Just as another example - although Chocoholic pretty much has covered it,

My new grad job:
8:30 to 7:00 4.5 days a week
2 in 5 weekends - one of these is a full weekend (sat 9-4 and sun 10-3) and one is just a part sat (10-12).
No OOH

A friends new grad job:
8:30-6:30 5 days a week. Every Saturday (9-4)
Every other night on call.

Mine seems pretty standard - the no OOH is nice. My friends is pretty bad. And you will get everything in between!

If it's the job you want to do though, you can make the job work with children. Most vets qualifying now are female, so most will be having children at some point. A lot of people will go part time, or find jobs that allow them to be flexible with the hours they work. That will be easier to do once you have worked your way through a job/or a few and got experience. As a new grad you won't be able to be too picky and start specifying hours you can work, but that would be a bit easier once you have more experience. Basically, if you want to be a vet/do the job - then the hours shouldn't put you off. They are long hours/hard work, but it's manageable. If you're not sure its for you, then the long hours will be less bearable!
Thanks for your replies, they have been really helpful. I guess I'm just a bit of a worrier!

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