The Student Room Group

Veterinary medicine and Surgery BSc

Hi all,

I was hoping that someone could shed some light on life as a Veterinary student (Undergraduate) in the UK. I am a current year 12 student in England who is aspiring to be a veterinarian. To a point I understand the extent of difficulty of life as a Bet student but without having experienced it myself (yet! *fingers crossed) I would appreciate some advice and insight if you would. I have spoken to a few vets I know about general schedules and “curriculum” of courses if you will but I also know that these differ from school to school. I’ll pop some questions below and you can feel free to answer them (or not) if you want!

Q: What made you stand out In the interview process that you think gave you an advantage over others?

Q: When you first arrived at university, did you find it easy enough to settle in (both to the environment and the complexity of the course learning)?

Q: what kind of societies do/did you attend?
Clearly I love 🧡 animals and I am aware there are lots of opportunities like horse riding and dog walking. I look forward to hopefully getting a chance to play on a hockey team (I am avid of hockey)

Q: what kind of work experiences have you a boost when entering the course (I.e. which ones in particular made certain modules easier to understand for you, if any)

Q: how do you go around finding placements during your time as a student, I hear that there are set numbers of clinical and non-clinical experiences you should do (and I am ecstatic & enthusiastic to do!)

And of course, not only thinking about my future (which is a great thing to do I and will continue to do) thinking about the present in vital… I am continually working hard on getting my grades to be the best of my standards and I would like to say I have a reasonably good understanding of how I revise and learn best (and I know this varies from person to person) but could you give me some tips and tricks that helped you for both A-levels and university?

Sorry for the long winded post but even if you could answer just one of my questions I would be ever so grateful!

Thanks everyone
Sophie 🐾
Vet school is hard but honestly if you're achieving the grades to get into vet school then you can handle it. It's a step-up from A Levels by miles, but there is a reason they ask for you to have A grades. If you get those grades and pass the interview process then you're the right person for the course.

1.

I think in the interview process you need to demonstrate you have a realistic understanding view of the profession. We have terrible mental health rates and retention problems in the profession, and many surveys are showing that huge proportions of vets are considering leaving the profession. You need to demonstrate that you understand the true role of a vet, not just the few roles you've seen on placement. Learn about small, farm and equine vets, but also vets in research, vets in public health, vets in legislation and abattoirs etc. The role of a vet is very broad and you will have so study all of these areas at vet school so you need to show that you actually know what you're getting into. Yes surgery is exciting, but show that you're prepared to deal with difficult clients and people with money problems. Many people go into the career because they like animals, but most of your time is actually spent working with people (colleagues and clients) - show that you understand the realities of veterinary medicine, not just what people think it is like to be a veterinary surgeon. Additionally, I showed an awareness in my interviews about the mental health problems with vets, and gave examples of why I would be able to deal with the stresses in the profession. I think this helped me. Some universities have PDFs on their websites about their admissions processes, and they basically explicitly say what qualities they are looking for in successful applicants. Go find these documents!

2.

It's difficult to answer this question because my freshers year began just 6 months after the first lockdown, so we weren't allowed to mix or have in person lectures etc. So the environment was weird, but now restrictions are gone, I can say that I love my course, university (Nottingham) and the campus. With complexity of the course learning, everyone struggles during the first term, but 'difficulty' of the content doesn't increase throughout the years (in my opinion). BUT, the workload does increase each year, if that makes sense? So once you've settled in after your first term, you'll have a decent idea of what you're doing and how to study at a university level, it's just the workload will increase over time.

3.

I'm not a sporty kinda gal, but I've recently joined the new yoga society. I'm involved in all of the vet societies as well as the art society. At Nottingham you pay for one VetSoc subscription and it gives you access to all events from Farm soc, Small animal soc, Equine soc. The only exception is Zoo soc and Surgsoc, which I'm also a part of.

4.

If your goal is to get into vet school, then do as much work experience as possible in every area available to you. I can give specific advice about that if you want, but your actual question was which work experience made certain modules easier to understand. For this, the answer is lambing, dairy, small animal vet. If I could have done farm/equine vet and abattoir as well I think these would really have been useful. The reason I say these placements is because vet school teaches you a lot of the theory before you go out on placement, but if you've already done these things it can kind of help you understand the classes a bit better? Like I went lambing before vet school so I knew all about colostrum and iodine etc, so when we had lectures on it I had an idea of what they were talking about and it wasn't just a 'theoretical' lecture - I could relate it to my own experiences. Then you have to go do lambing again during vet school, which means you understand everything a bit better and you're a much better student than you were the first time! Placements which were useful for getting into vet school but not very useful for helping me with my course were things like: dog kennels, cattery, horse riding schools, animal sanctuaries. You do still learn some stuff about animal care, but not as much as the other placements I mentioned. If you're not very confident with handling certain animals, then doing these placements as well will be useful to you, as you'll have to demonstrate at vet school that you can handle most domestic animals safely in order to progress through the course (at Notts during first year we have a minor exam where we are watched handling horses, dogs/exotics and farm animals).

5.

There are groups on Facebook you will be able to join once you are a veterinary student, where qualified vets hang out and give advice and offer placements and accommodation to us. Your uni will also have a database of places that other student have been to and they will help you find placements. Additionally you use the internet, and word of mouth from your friends. If you find a particular topic interesting, contact your lecturer for that subject and sometimes they will recommend places too to help you further that interest. The only difficulty is remembering to book placements throughout the year for your summers. When you have loads of coursework and revision piling up it's so easy to think 'ah I can wait a bit longer before I go placement hunting'. By the time you know it, your summer will have arrived and you need to find placements ASAP!

6.

Do one of those tests to figure out if you're a visual or auditory (or other) type of learner, and then research what methods will work best for whatever type you are. For anatomy, I like to draw out the animal on a white board and label it, then rub out the labels and re-label it. Rinse and repeat until I know the anatomy. For odd facts and short pieces of information, I use flashcards with a question on one side so I can test myself. For physiological processes... idk I use a mixture of methods and still don't really know what I'm doing! But it's working out so far!

Hope this helps. Any questions let me know. Good luck on your veterinary journey. :smile:
Original post by louisvbird
Vet school is hard but honestly if you're achieving the grades to get into vet school then you can handle it. It's a step-up from A Levels by miles, but there is a reason they ask for you to have A grades. If you get those grades and pass the interview process then you're the right person for the course.

1.

I think in the interview process you need to demonstrate you have a realistic understanding view of the profession. We have terrible mental health rates and retention problems in the profession, and many surveys are showing that huge proportions of vets are considering leaving the profession. You need to demonstrate that you understand the true role of a vet, not just the few roles you've seen on placement. Learn about small, farm and equine vets, but also vets in research, vets in public health, vets in legislation and abattoirs etc. The role of a vet is very broad and you will have so study all of these areas at vet school so you need to show that you actually know what you're getting into. Yes surgery is exciting, but show that you're prepared to deal with difficult clients and people with money problems. Many people go into the career because they like animals, but most of your time is actually spent working with people (colleagues and clients) - show that you understand the realities of veterinary medicine, not just what people think it is like to be a veterinary surgeon. Additionally, I showed an awareness in my interviews about the mental health problems with vets, and gave examples of why I would be able to deal with the stresses in the profession. I think this helped me. Some universities have PDFs on their websites about their admissions processes, and they basically explicitly say what qualities they are looking for in successful applicants. Go find these documents!

2.

It's difficult to answer this question because my freshers year began just 6 months after the first lockdown, so we weren't allowed to mix or have in person lectures etc. So the environment was weird, but now restrictions are gone, I can say that I love my course, university (Nottingham) and the campus. With complexity of the course learning, everyone struggles during the first term, but 'difficulty' of the content doesn't increase throughout the years (in my opinion). BUT, the workload does increase each year, if that makes sense? So once you've settled in after your first term, you'll have a decent idea of what you're doing and how to study at a university level, it's just the workload will increase over time.

3.

I'm not a sporty kinda gal, but I've recently joined the new yoga society. I'm involved in all of the vet societies as well as the art society. At Nottingham you pay for one VetSoc subscription and it gives you access to all events from Farm soc, Small animal soc, Equine soc. The only exception is Zoo soc and Surgsoc, which I'm also a part of.

4.

If your goal is to get into vet school, then do as much work experience as possible in every area available to you. I can give specific advice about that if you want, but your actual question was which work experience made certain modules easier to understand. For this, the answer is lambing, dairy, small animal vet. If I could have done farm/equine vet and abattoir as well I think these would really have been useful. The reason I say these placements is because vet school teaches you a lot of the theory before you go out on placement, but if you've already done these things it can kind of help you understand the classes a bit better? Like I went lambing before vet school so I knew all about colostrum and iodine etc, so when we had lectures on it I had an idea of what they were talking about and it wasn't just a 'theoretical' lecture - I could relate it to my own experiences. Then you have to go do lambing again during vet school, which means you understand everything a bit better and you're a much better student than you were the first time! Placements which were useful for getting into vet school but not very useful for helping me with my course were things like: dog kennels, cattery, horse riding schools, animal sanctuaries. You do still learn some stuff about animal care, but not as much as the other placements I mentioned. If you're not very confident with handling certain animals, then doing these placements as well will be useful to you, as you'll have to demonstrate at vet school that you can handle most domestic animals safely in order to progress through the course (at Notts during first year we have a minor exam where we are watched handling horses, dogs/exotics and farm animals).

5.

There are groups on Facebook you will be able to join once you are a veterinary student, where qualified vets hang out and give advice and offer placements and accommodation to us. Your uni will also have a database of places that other student have been to and they will help you find placements. Additionally you use the internet, and word of mouth from your friends. If you find a particular topic interesting, contact your lecturer for that subject and sometimes they will recommend places too to help you further that interest. The only difficulty is remembering to book placements throughout the year for your summers. When you have loads of coursework and revision piling up it's so easy to think 'ah I can wait a bit longer before I go placement hunting'. By the time you know it, your summer will have arrived and you need to find placements ASAP!

6.

Do one of those tests to figure out if you're a visual or auditory (or other) type of learner, and then research what methods will work best for whatever type you are. For anatomy, I like to draw out the animal on a white board and label it, then rub out the labels and re-label it. Rinse and repeat until I know the anatomy. For odd facts and short pieces of information, I use flashcards with a question on one side so I can test myself. For physiological processes... idk I use a mixture of methods and still don't really know what I'm doing! But it's working out so far!

Hope this helps. Any questions let me know. Good luck on your veterinary journey. :smile:

P.S my work experience and grades are on my profile if you want to browse.
Original post by louisvbird
Vet school is hard but honestly if you're achieving the grades to get into vet school then you can handle it. It's a step-up from A Levels by miles, but there is a reason they ask for you to have A grades. If you get those grades and pass the interview process then you're the right person for the course.

1.

I think in the interview process you need to demonstrate you have a realistic understanding view of the profession. We have terrible mental health rates and retention problems in the profession, and many surveys are showing that huge proportions of vets are considering leaving the profession. You need to demonstrate that you understand the true role of a vet, not just the few roles you've seen on placement. Learn about small, farm and equine vets, but also vets in research, vets in public health, vets in legislation and abattoirs etc. The role of a vet is very broad and you will have so study all of these areas at vet school so you need to show that you actually know what you're getting into. Yes surgery is exciting, but show that you're prepared to deal with difficult clients and people with money problems. Many people go into the career because they like animals, but most of your time is actually spent working with people (colleagues and clients) - show that you understand the realities of veterinary medicine, not just what people think it is like to be a veterinary surgeon. Additionally, I showed an awareness in my interviews about the mental health problems with vets, and gave examples of why I would be able to deal with the stresses in the profession. I think this helped me. Some universities have PDFs on their websites about their admissions processes, and they basically explicitly say what qualities they are looking for in successful applicants. Go find these documents!

2.

It's difficult to answer this question because my freshers year began just 6 months after the first lockdown, so we weren't allowed to mix or have in person lectures etc. So the environment was weird, but now restrictions are gone, I can say that I love my course, university (Nottingham) and the campus. With complexity of the course learning, everyone struggles during the first term, but 'difficulty' of the content doesn't increase throughout the years (in my opinion). BUT, the workload does increase each year, if that makes sense? So once you've settled in after your first term, you'll have a decent idea of what you're doing and how to study at a university level, it's just the workload will increase over time.

3.

I'm not a sporty kinda gal, but I've recently joined the new yoga society. I'm involved in all of the vet societies as well as the art society. At Nottingham you pay for one VetSoc subscription and it gives you access to all events from Farm soc, Small animal soc, Equine soc. The only exception is Zoo soc and Surgsoc, which I'm also a part of.

4.

If your goal is to get into vet school, then do as much work experience as possible in every area available to you. I can give specific advice about that if you want, but your actual question was which work experience made certain modules easier to understand. For this, the answer is lambing, dairy, small animal vet. If I could have done farm/equine vet and abattoir as well I think these would really have been useful. The reason I say these placements is because vet school teaches you a lot of the theory before you go out on placement, but if you've already done these things it can kind of help you understand the classes a bit better? Like I went lambing before vet school so I knew all about colostrum and iodine etc, so when we had lectures on it I had an idea of what they were talking about and it wasn't just a 'theoretical' lecture - I could relate it to my own experiences. Then you have to go do lambing again during vet school, which means you understand everything a bit better and you're a much better student than you were the first time! Placements which were useful for getting into vet school but not very useful for helping me with my course were things like: dog kennels, cattery, horse riding schools, animal sanctuaries. You do still learn some stuff about animal care, but not as much as the other placements I mentioned. If you're not very confident with handling certain animals, then doing these placements as well will be useful to you, as you'll have to demonstrate at vet school that you can handle most domestic animals safely in order to progress through the course (at Notts during first year we have a minor exam where we are watched handling horses, dogs/exotics and farm animals).

5.

There are groups on Facebook you will be able to join once you are a veterinary student, where qualified vets hang out and give advice and offer placements and accommodation to us. Your uni will also have a database of places that other student have been to and they will help you find placements. Additionally you use the internet, and word of mouth from your friends. If you find a particular topic interesting, contact your lecturer for that subject and sometimes they will recommend places too to help you further that interest. The only difficulty is remembering to book placements throughout the year for your summers. When you have loads of coursework and revision piling up it's so easy to think 'ah I can wait a bit longer before I go placement hunting'. By the time you know it, your summer will have arrived and you need to find placements ASAP!

6.

Do one of those tests to figure out if you're a visual or auditory (or other) type of learner, and then research what methods will work best for whatever type you are. For anatomy, I like to draw out the animal on a white board and label it, then rub out the labels and re-label it. Rinse and repeat until I know the anatomy. For odd facts and short pieces of information, I use flashcards with a question on one side so I can test myself. For physiological processes... idk I use a mixture of methods and still don't really know what I'm doing! But it's working out so far!

Hope this helps. Any questions let me know. Good luck on your veterinary journey. :smile:


This is beyond helpful, thank you ever so much.
I am aware that mental health is often something struggled with by vet students and in particular, imposter syndrome, partly why I am working hard on my resilience. About the jump from A-levels to first year, for you did it start to click after a little while (obviously with much hard work), I just get nervous about not understanding things, I know the learning will be much more complex but I can’t help but look for reassurance you know? It’s great to hear how many societies you are in! Great to hear that variety of options :smile: again, I appreciate your help, thank you
Original post by Sophie Warman
This is beyond helpful, thank you ever so much.
I am aware that mental health is often something struggled with by vet students and in particular, imposter syndrome, partly why I am working hard on my resilience. About the jump from A-levels to first year, for you did it start to click after a little while (obviously with much hard work), I just get nervous about not understanding things, I know the learning will be much more complex but I can’t help but look for reassurance you know? It’s great to hear how many societies you are in! Great to hear that variety of options :smile: again, I appreciate your help, thank you

I'm glad you mentioned resilience, the vet schools and RCVS are always banging on about it. What a great way to prepare yourself for the profession.

I found that with A Level Chemistry I basically had to go home and re-learn every single lesson myself, whereas at vet school only once every few weeks is there a lesson which I just straight-up don't understand and need to watch Youtube tutorials for haha. So I'd say generally the learning is not that much more complex. Most topics you learn don't get much more difficult than A Levels - they might get more detailed and complex, but not necessarily harder. You'll spend less of your time trying to understand things and more of your time just trying to memorise huge amounts of knowledge and anatomy from different species, this is where the stress comes from.

It'll probably take the first term (up until Christmas break) before you're in the groove with things. In the first couple of weeks they taught us about basic histology and anatomical directional terms - knowing this is imperative before they can teach you actual anatomy, but I remember panicking thinking that it was going to get way more complicated. It didn't, and as soon as we started learning anatomy, it made sense how I was meant to use the knowledge I had been taught in the first few weeks.

My advice would be to not panic, just try and keep up with your notes throughout vet school because you usually don't get much time to go over stuff during revision periods. Some years we only have two weeks to study everything from the whole year so make flashcards and resources from the beginning, so that you have them for later on! As I said before, if you get the grades at A Level you'll most likely be fine in terms of understanding things. :smile:
Original post by louisvbird
I'm glad you mentioned resilience, the vet schools and RCVS are always banging on about it. What a great way to prepare yourself for the profession.
I found that with A Level Chemistry I basically had to go home and re-learn every single lesson myself, whereas at vet school only once every few weeks is there a lesson which I just straight-up don't understand and need to watch Youtube tutorials for haha. So I'd say generally the learning is not that much more complex. Most topics you learn don't get much more difficult than A Levels - they might get more detailed and complex, but not necessarily harder. You'll spend less of your time trying to understand things and more of your time just trying to memorise huge amounts of knowledge and anatomy from different species, this is where the stress comes from.
It'll probably take the first term (up until Christmas break) before you're in the groove with things. In the first couple of weeks they taught us about basic histology and anatomical directional terms - knowing this is imperative before they can teach you actual anatomy, but I remember panicking thinking that it was going to get way more complicated. It didn't, and as soon as we started learning anatomy, it made sense how I was meant to use the knowledge I had been taught in the first few weeks.
My advice would be to not panic, just try and keep up with your notes throughout vet school because you usually don't get much time to go over stuff during revision periods. Some years we only have two weeks to study everything from the whole year so make flashcards and resources from the beginning, so that you have them for later on! As I said before, if you get the grades at A Level you'll most likely be fine in terms of understanding things. :smile:


This is amazing advice, thank you, I feel like I am already starting to have a (slight) understanding of what uni life could be like (I’m obviously not going to get ahead of myself though!) hearing about the general consensus of tending revise throughout the year is really useful because I try to do that in my current studies as it helps me consolidate my learning and remember long term. Your help is really appreciated (again, sorry to keep going no on about it but it means a lot) :smile:

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