The process of becoming a vet usually starts in secondary school. Most universities will expect you to obtain grades AAA in A-Level Chemistry, Biology and either Physics or Maths.

This is because the veterinary degree is heavily science based – sadly it’s not all about cuddling kittens and puppies (though we do enjoy puppy and kitten vaccination checks!!)

As well as the high grades, you will usually be expected to undertake a minimum of eight weeks work experience prior to application.

This generally includes a minimum of two weeks at a companion animal veterinary practice, two weeks working with large animals (eg. a dairy farm or large animal practice) and a minimum of two weeks ‘other’, which includes spending time gaining experience in a stables, kennels, cattery or laboratory.

Border Collie puppy Nell in for vaccinations at Long Eaton Ashfield House Vets

This gorgeous pup is Nell, who came to visit Claudine for her first vaccinations at Long Eaton. Look at those beautiful eyes!

As entry to the course is so competitive, most applicants far exceed the minimum requirement. We are happy to have people with us for work experience, so if you are interested in spending some time seeing how we work, please get in touch by phoning the Long Eaton Hospital on 0115 972 7050.

On top of all this, you have to demonstrate that you have contributed to your school or local community by participating in activities not related to veterinary science, for example being part of a local sports club.

Once you have met the requirements for A-Levels, work experience and extra-curricular activities, the application for veterinary school formally begins!

Entry to the course is highly competitive, for example, the University of Bristol received 1,365 applications in 2013, with only 150 spaces on the course.


Only seven universities offer veterinary science/medicine as a degree; Bristol, Cambridge, Liverpool, Nottingham, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The degree lasts five years (six at Cambridge) and during that time, students will learn about all animals, large and small. The exams are rigorous and challenging as the amount of information to learn is immense.

After five/six years and numerous examinations, the newbie veterinary surgeons graduate and become members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, where they have to swear an oath stating:

” I PROMISE AND SOLEMNLY DECLARE that I will pursue the work of my profession with integrity and accept my responsibilities to the public, my clients, the profession and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and that, ABOVE ALL, my constant endeavour will be to ensure the health and welfare of animals committed to my care.”

Undertaking a career as a veterinary surgeon is not a decision that should be taken lightly. You have to be sure it is the right career for you. The costs of veterinary education have increased dramatically and the salary of the average veterinary surgeon is often a lot less than some people assume, especially considering the long hours and stressful situations.

But all this aside, being able to make a difference and seeing animals come into the hospital very sick and go home feeling much better does make it all worthwhile!!

Hopefully this two-piece article answers most of your questions about becoming a veterinary surgeon, but if you still have some queries, please message us and we will try to answer them ourselves or point you in the right direction!

Meet our Ashfield House Vets and Directors

Claudine BVSc MRCVS

Share This