A Veterinary Surgeon’s career involves the physical and psychological welfare of animals. In reality this means the cure and prevention of diseases. This career path can be for farm animals, pets, zoological park or wild animals.
Veterinarians tend not to choose a career involving a single type of animal. The career they specialise in is either domestic which will include dogs, cats, parrots, gerbils, hamsters, etc.; or a career involving wildlife or farm animals. So the career path is either urban or rural.
A Veterinary career normally involves being self-employed in private practise carrying out surgery, diagnosing and treating illness, taking an X ray, administering anaesthetics or prescribing medication. Veterinary surgeons can work in their clients’ homes, stables, barns, farms, wildlife parks or in any environment where animals are found. As an alternative to a self-employed career they can work in the public sector for research centres, pharmaceutical companies, charities or government agencies. They can be asked for general advice on nutrition, breeding and psychological health.
While skills with animals are important and stem from a love of animals, people skills are also important in a veterinary career. A lot of the career may involve reassuring anxious owners and dealing with clients in the middle of the night – the timing of animal medical emergencies cannot be controlled. People skills can be important in dealing with other members of staff such as veterinary nurses or receptionists. In veterinary careers there is a certain amount of paperwork involved such as pet passports, records regarding immunisation and controlling and managing infectious outbreaks.
However much experience they have, veterinary surgeons rarely live and work a nine to five career. Many farm vets work in cold wet conditions, for instance in barns helping a calf to be delivered. Exceptional social skills can be called upon especially when a client is upset and stressed because a pet or livestock is at risk. The hours spent in a veterinary career, especially for a young vet, often seriously inhibit a social life. Some practices involve a fair amount of travelling
For a career as a Veterinary Surgeon, standard university entrance requirements mean good “A” level grades usually in chemistry backed by a secondary science subject – usually biology. Most universities demand work experience with animals. Experience on farms is an added advantage especially with lambing or calving. It is not enough to love animals – vets must also understand that commercial priorities can overrule sentiment – it does not cure animals and often gets in the way of the healing process.
Normally vets work as assistants when starting their practical careers, which allows for a period for career development. This covers areas of people skills, management skills and areas of specialisation.