The Student Room Group

Ask a vet anything!

Hi
We are 3 vets here ready to answer any questions you have about being a vet for any current vet students or prospective.

Any question goes! (Within reason haha)

I'm a small animal vet, working in our of hours practice having been a charity vet, a farm vet and a mixed vet over my career so far

@mixedvet is a current farm vet after a brief forray into mixed vetting

Whilst @FarmVet is a anatomical pathology resident with farm bias after being a farm vet

Ask us anything!
(edited 1 year ago)

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Original post by Angry cucumber
Hi
We are 3 vets here ready to answer any questions you have about being a vet for any current vet students or prospective.

Any question goes! (Within reason haha)

I'm a small animal vet, working in our of hours practice having been a charity vet, a farm vet and a mixed vet over my career so far

@mixedvet is a current farm vet after a brief forray into mixed vetting

Whilst @FarmVet is a anatomical physiology resident after being a farm vet

Ask us anything!


after a while does the money get better?
Original post by BeastModeTrain
after a while does the money get better?


Depends on what area of vetting you go into. But wages for clinical vets is inflating rapidly post Brexit and covid due to the huge shortage of experienced vets. New graduate salaries are slightly higher than previously, but not great, but salaries are much better for experienced now
Hey! I'm a second year vet student at Liverpool, I help with the admissions cycles on here quite a lot over the last few years. I am like at least 80% sure I'll go into smallies, with a slight interest in equine but not too sure yet.

From your experience, what were the pros/cons of charity vet work? It's something I may be interested in going into and I've just booked 4 weeks for next year with the PDSA which I'm very excited for. Also pros/cons of out of hours? Is there any clinical placements you'd really recommend doing?

Thank you!
Original post by Angry cucumber
Hi
We are 3 vets here ready to answer any questions you have about being a vet for any current vet students or prospective.

Any question goes! (Within reason haha)

I'm a small animal vet, working in our of hours practice having been a charity vet, a farm vet and a mixed vet over my career so far

@mixedvet is a current farm vet after a brief forray into mixed vetting

Whilst @FarmVet is a anatomical physiology resident after being a farm vet

Ask us anything!


Sorry meant to say anatomic pathology resident with farm animal interest :smile: but yes also was a farm vet in practice :smile:
Original post by BeastModeTrain
after a while does the money get better?


There is a massive shortage of experienced vets and the salary increases quite rapidly in first five years in practice and then tends to plateau unless opening own practice. For good ideas of veterinary salaries recommend SPVS: https://spvs.org.uk/ as this is based on a UK-wide survey of the salaries across different sectors in the profession :smile:
Original post by RambleAmple
Hey! I'm a second year vet student at Liverpool, I help with the admissions cycles on here quite a lot over the last few years. I am like at least 80% sure I'll go into smallies, with a slight interest in equine but not too sure yet.

From your experience, what were the pros/cons of charity vet work? It's something I may be interested in going into and I've just booked 4 weeks for next year with the PDSA which I'm very excited for. Also pros/cons of out of hours? Is there any clinical placements you'd really recommend doing?

Thank you!


I haven't worked directly in charity work but my experience with OOH and having old university colleagues in mixed and smallies practice are as follows. Out of hours in small animal practice compared to farm can be quite different. Small animal clients may call but not need to attend and see you (aka lots of phone calls but not always called out), whereas farm if a client rings for the most part you will be attending especially if working with experienced clients vs smallholders. Mixed combination of both. Pros of out of hours sometimes bonuses for doing it, cons the bonus does not tend to be motivational enough at 2am. While initially as a new graduate I looked forward to the excitement of out of hours and rescuing animals often in a dark field somewhere, over time it can mess up sleep patterns depending who you are so carefully consider rotas you are signing on for. I would suggest no more than 1 in 4 nights a week. In my personal opinion some cope better with night work than others as well.

In terms of clinical placements try to get a range of experiences in a range of practices to see what you want out of a job, large or small number of vets, out of hours or no out of hours, facilities and machines - specialist or general practice level etc.
Original post by FarmVet
Sorry meant to say anatomic pathology resident with farm animal interest :smile: but yes also was a farm vet in practice :smile:


I've updated!
Original post by RambleAmple
Hey! I'm a second year vet student at Liverpool, I help with the admissions cycles on here quite a lot over the last few years. I am like at least 80% sure I'll go into smallies, with a slight interest in equine but not too sure yet.

From your experience, what were the pros/cons of charity vet work? It's something I may be interested in going into and I've just booked 4 weeks for next year with the PDSA which I'm very excited for. Also pros/cons of out of hours? Is there any clinical placements you'd really recommend doing?

Thank you!


Hey, dw about what type of vet you wanted to be. I still don't know what I truly want to be!

I worked for PDSA during the pandemic years.

Pros: Very busy, great caseload, little referral option so get to do lots, lots of surgery, often highly motivated teams

Cons: Pay isn't great for obvious reasons, with the current financial disaster ongoing, they are much more busy and certain places like PDSA have restricted some of their scope of service.

I loved PDSA, fantastic team. I left my place because of a new boss and we didn't get on lol. If that hadn't happened, I'd probably still be there

Night work pros/ cons

Pros: Cool stuff comes in at night you get to see and do that, money is really good, often fast paced and you learn a lot

Cons: You are often solo and noone to call for back up if you don't know what to do/ can't fix something. It takes its toll, your body does not want to be up at night all the time, I've been doing this 18 months and am moving on in the near future :smile:

Best placements - PDSAs tend to be great and any practice you get on well at. Too often people try and avoid seeing practice they don't want to work in, e.g. farm or poultry or similar. I think that's a shame, you should see how all aspects of practice work, it'll make you a better student. Do some reading up before you go on it, be keen to learn and don't be the student with staring at your phone all the time and you can gain a lot. I loved seeing pig practice so much I ended up doing a lot of it as a mixed vet!
(edited 1 year ago)
Hello!

Third-time reapplicant, hopefully as the saying goes 'third time lucky'.

Working amongst farm and SA placements I am particularly interested in mixed-animal because of the diverse portfolio and cases. Speaking to a Liverpool grad he mentioned you can choose a ratio you practice I believe he opted for 60:40 SA: LA which is really cool you can choose your preferred work lifestyle!

I believe Aberystwyth, where I was interviewed, is heavily invested in increasing the mixed/large animal gap amongst the large proportion of SA grads. What do you think are the biggest contributors towards the decline in the MA and LA profession? (I know Brexit has definitely not helped! Maybe being uncomfortable around LAs though you have to be competent with a variety of species in the first place...)

Did any of you do placements abroad and if so, how does it differ from UK placements other than the language barriers?
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Aspiringvet23
Hello!

Third-time reapplicant, hopefully as the saying goes 'third time lucky'.

Did any of you do placements abroad and if so, how does it differ from UK placements other than the language barriers?


Hey good luck with your application

I didn't do any abroad. My girlfriend though, did a placement in south Africa on a game park (most reserves in SA aren't truly wild, but managed for tourism and game hunting, it's a crazy place). She darted and treated Leopards, Lions, Rhino and giraffes. She had a great time!

Quite a lot of people did something abroad, from monkeys in Borneo to horses in Australia from what I recall.

Most places speak English, so that's always a win!
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Aspiringvet23
Hello!

Third-time reapplicant, hopefully as the saying goes 'third time lucky'.

Working amongst farm and SA placements I am particularly interested in mixed-animal because of the diverse portfolio and cases. Speaking to a Liverpool grad he mentioned you can choose a ratio you practice I believe he opted for 60:40 SA: LA which is really cool you can choose your preferred work lifestyle!

I believe Aberystwyth, where I was interviewed, is heavily invested in increasing the mixed/large animal gap amongst the large proportion of SA grads. What do you think are the biggest contributors towards the decline in the MA and LA profession? (I know Brexit has definitely not helped! Maybe being uncomfortable around LAs though you have to be competent with a variety of species in the first place...)

Did any of you do placements abroad and if so, how does it differ from UK placements other than the language barriers?


Good luck with the application :smile:.

Mixed animal practice is quite a common desire for new graduates as you can be exposed to a range of cases in most species, most practices set their ratios but yes you can look for mixed practices that fit the ratio you are interested in. However, I would say now a lot of mixed practices have a small animal bias in their ratio (often where a lot of the money is and due to competition with farm animal only practices). I think whichever university you pick you would be able to work in mixed, small or large animal practice, Aberystwyths location may make farm/ mixed placements more local to the university but if you qualify as a vet you are a vet.

I think the decline in mixed animal vet practices is mainly due to competition with species specific practices, there are less mixed animal practices as services become more specialized towards the clients they are serving. Within the farm animal profession, I would say there has been an expansion of large farm practices with massive client bases often owned by corporates, although some independent. Remember farm vets only make up approximately 10% of the profession so there are limited practices to train new graduates which is where I think the crux of the issue is, as I know a lot of vet students interested in farm animal work but the competition was high for new graduate job opportunities, it was not that they were uncomfortable with large animals. There are still jobs available but often the farm vet jobs require new graduates to move location as well due to the large areas covered by practices and the location of most farms within the UK. So all in all farm vetting is changing, not only in the services provided (with the approval of ATTs for TB testing) but in the practice structures and opportunities available.

I did a placement in the USA so no language barrier and would recommend if can afford it, again to see options available :smile:. A lot of students travel abroad for spay and neuter clinics to practice surgery confidence before graduation (this is best done towards the end of final year).
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Aspiringvet23
Hello!

Third-time reapplicant, hopefully as the saying goes 'third time lucky'.

Working amongst farm and SA placements I am particularly interested in mixed-animal because of the diverse portfolio and cases. Speaking to a Liverpool grad he mentioned you can choose a ratio you practice I believe he opted for 60:40 SA: LA which is really cool you can choose your preferred work lifestyle!

I believe Aberystwyth, where I was interviewed, is heavily invested in increasing the mixed/large animal gap amongst the large proportion of SA grads. What do you think are the biggest contributors towards the decline in the MA and LA profession? (I know Brexit has definitely not helped! Maybe being uncomfortable around LAs though you have to be competent with a variety of species in the first place...)

Did any of you do placements abroad and if so, how does it differ from UK placements other than the language barriers?


As someone that started off in mixed I really would not recommend it for the most part. It is not the rule as such but most of them the ratio turns out to be nonsense on a day to day basis. For example your case load in spring at lambing time will be predominantly farm whereas over summer there will be little to no farm work. Similarly if the smallies side is busy regardless of your ratio you will be doing more small animal work at that time. Wales is the last region of mixed being common with most 'mixed' practices being divided into smallies and large vets within. I don't know if I agree large animal work is decreasing but mixed definitely is.

I feel this is probably justified also to be brutal. Both sectors are so specialised and advanced now that you really cannot be great at both. This is of course contextual. In the middle of nowhere where people can't afford to spend lots on their animals a mixed practice likely is justified. But I feel most mixed practices are ill equipped to deal with modern vet care to the high standard expected. My advice if you do go for mixed would be to really suss out the people that own the practices and speak to their staff without them there... it seems to be a certain kind of people that own these places in my experience.
Just realised I missed the thing re: mixed vetting. I loved mixed vetting, left to become a farm vet because the bosses preferentially treated another new grad who got all the farm opportunities and I got none. Actually mixed vetting requires some vets to be more bias one way or other other to maintain standards and it's very hard to be up to date at both. But I loved it and would go back if I hadn't been injured as a farm vet!
Original post by Angry cucumber
Depends on what area of vetting you go into. But wages for clinical vets is inflating rapidly post Brexit and covid due to the huge shortage of experienced vets. New graduate salaries are slightly higher than previously, but not great, but salaries are much better for experienced now

I would disagree.

I don't think New Grad Salaries (and packages) are that bad considering we are talking about an entry level position with fairly rapid salary progression for most. The current figures are around 30-50% more than what I earned as a NG a little over 10 years ago, more benefits are included as standard (eg; pension, memberships paid, CPD, etc) and the industry has come a long way with regards to set working hours (eg; 40 hours/week +/- 10%, no OOH, etc is reasonably standard).

My argument would be that experienced vet salaries are where the issue, and disparity, lies compared to abroad, or in similar professions and training/skill levels (eg; dentistry, medicine, law, engineering, etc).
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by ch0c0h01ic
I would disagree.

I don't think New Grad Salaries (and packages) are that bad considering we are talking about an entry level position with fairly rapid salary progression for most. The current figures are around 30-50% more than what I earned as a NG a little over 10 years ago, more benefits are included as standard (eg; pension, memberships paid, CPD, etc) and the industry has come a long way with regards to set working hours (eg; 40 hours/week +/- 10%, no OOH, etc is reasonably standard).

My argument would be that experienced vet salaries are where the issue, and disparity, lies compared to to similar professions and training/skill levels (eg; dentistry, medicine, law, engineering, etc).


Hi mate, it's been a while! Hope you're well etc :smile:

I qualified 5.5 years ago. NG salaries are up about 5-7k in general. A lot more new grad schemes now though, with much more cpd.

Agree vet salaries are less than similar professions, but experienced wages have come up a lot since covid and are experiencing a boom in general now. I'm currently job hunting and I'm being offered about a 50% more for jobs than I was 18 months ago when I last looked. Locum rates have also exploded
Original post by Angry cucumber
Hi mate, it's been a while! Hope you're well etc :smile:

I qualified 5.5 years ago. NG salaries are up about 5-7k in general. A lot more new grad schemes now though, with much more cpd.

Agree vet salaries are less than similar professions, but experienced wages have come up a lot since covid and are experiencing a boom in general now. I'm currently job hunting and I'm being offered about a 50% more for jobs than I was 18 months ago when I last looked. Locum rates have also exploded

You too! Are you still in the West Mids? The last couple of years have been a bit crazy but thriving.

My starting salary was £21K in 2012/13, now it's fairly standard for New Grads to earn £32-35K, and I've even seen some desperate/enterprising practices offer as much as £55K!

50%? It depends what you were earning before but be careful. Some of the highest rises in the industry are to shore up pretty horrific morale and working conditions *cough* MediVet.

Locum rates have always been barmy. The corporates made an unofficial pact around 12-18 months ago to limit locum rates and dependency, and then one panicked and broke ranks, and then things become even more deranged. I've seen some trying to sell themselves for £1k/day...
Hi, I have offers for two vet schools, and wanted to know about locum. How much exprerience do you generally need to get into it? And how come the salary is higher than normal hours, is it because its less desirable? And if yes, why is it less desirable?
Original post by boomsicles48
Hi, I have offers for two vet schools, and wanted to know about locum. How much exprerience do you generally need to get into it?


There's no prerequisite experience as such, that being said, the more experience you have, the higher the pay you can command.

For example, a vet with 10 years experience and a post graduate certificate may be able to command £1,000/day in certain circumstances, on the other hand it will be significantly less for a new graduate with little or no experience.

how come the salary is higher than normal hours, is it because its less desirable? And if yes, why is it less desirable?


While the pay is good, it's not really something I would aspire for. Besides a relatively small subset of vets with rather unique situations (eg; between jobs, cash poor, young/fit/no dependants, money orientated and don't like the nature of the job) or lifestyles (eg; the nomadic travelling type that alternates a couple of months of lucrative work with travelling) it's not really that conducive for a particularly rewarding career, or clinical competence.

While there are some great locums, there's a lot with questionable skills, experience and/or bedside manner. Many practices would rather be slightly understaffed than employ a random locum based on the amount of damage a poor quality locum can do!

Con's:
1) Limited ability to foster good workplace or patient/client relationships - one of the most rewarding aspects of being a vet!
2) Relatively high risk (ie; normally self employed or zero hour contracts - no guaranteed hours, sick pay, etc so if you don't or can't work you don't get paid!)
3) Often little or no support (ie; sole charge, little or no induction or on the job training, no entitlement to CPD, etc)
4) Often unsociable hours/shifts that nobody else wants to cover
5) Responsible for covering all insurance, travel, membership, etc costs
6) Difficult to develop clinical competence and professional skills because of the limited opportunity to follow up complex cases, practice surgery, etc
7) May go against your personal values/morals/ethics
8) ?Job security? There have been some attempts by corporate employers to control locum pay, and although this hasn't been successful (yet), this has been achieved in other industries (eg; optometry) with wider co-ordination

Pro's:
1) Relatively good rates of pay
2) Easy to walk away from office politics, poorly run practices, toxic teams, etc
Original post by ch0c0h01ic
There's no prerequisite experience as such, that being said, the more experience you have, the higher the pay you can command.

For example, a vet with 10 years experience and a post graduate certificate may be able to command £1,000/day in certain circumstances, on the other hand it will be significantly less for a new graduate with little or no experience.



While the pay is good, it's not really something I would aspire for. Besides a relatively small subset of vets with rather unique situations (eg; between jobs, cash poor, young/fit/no dependants, money orientated and don't like the nature of the job) or lifestyles (eg; the nomadic travelling type that alternates a couple of months of lucrative work with travelling) it's not really that conducive for a particularly rewarding career, or clinical competence.

While there are some great locums, there's a lot with questionable skills, experience and/or bedside manner. Many practices would rather be slightly understaffed than employ a random locum based on the amount of damage a poor quality locum can do!

Con's:
1) Limited ability to foster good workplace or patient/client relationships - one of the most rewarding aspects of being a vet!
2) Relatively high risk (ie; normally self employed or zero hour contracts - no guaranteed hours, sick pay, etc so if you don't or can't work you don't get paid!)
3) Often little or no support (ie; sole charge, little or no induction or on the job training, no entitlement to CPD, etc)
4) Often unsociable hours/shifts that nobody else wants to cover
5) Responsible for covering all insurance, travel, membership, etc costs
6) Difficult to develop clinical competence and professional skills because of the limited opportunity to follow up complex cases, practice surgery, etc
7) May go against your personal values/morals/ethics
8) ?Job security? There have been some attempts by corporate employers to control locum pay, and although this hasn't been successful (yet), this has been achieved in other industries (eg; optometry) with wider co-ordination

Pro's:
1) Relatively good rates of pay
2) Easy to walk away from office politics, poorly run practices, toxic teams, etc


Wow that's really informative thank you very much. The main reason it appealed to me was potentially before I settle down, I could travel a bit while doing locum work. Do people do that at all?

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