Today’s article is brought to you by Kat, who has her own website called “The Runaway Vet“. Kat shares with you the perspective of someone that has moved to the UK from an English-speaking country (Australia) and some of the positive aspects of a British career.
The United Kingdom is a place where many people aspire to live and work. The country is known for being safe and prosperous while offering plenty of natural beauty and culture to be experienced on your weekends.
Britons also love their pets, and the veterinary industry has plenty to offer foreign trained professionals. After four years of working as a foreign-trained vet in the UK, here are top reasons why I enjoy working and living in Britain:
Vets are respected
While vets in the UK tend not to refer to themselves as ‘Doctor’, the profession is well respected. As a young woman, people are often more polite and respectful of me once they discover my profession. The public tend to be respectful of this role and the hard-work it takes to achieve veterinary registration here.
British registered vets are also respected internationally, and having the MRCVS title behind your name can open many doors for you in the international industry.
Standards are high
The standards of veterinary medicine and animal welfare in the UK are some of the highest in the world. A census in 2013 showed that 90% of pet owner’s consider their animals to be an important part of their family*. This is reflected in the lengths clients are willing to go for their companions in the veterinary hospital, allowing even basic veterinary clinics to purchase diagnostic imaging equipment and dental suites.
While not every client will want gold-standard care, you’re likely to encounter enough to keep your diagnostic and surgical skills high, and to allow general practitioners to begin developing special interests.
Fantastic CPD Opportunities
The UK is home to some of the most respected academics in Veterinary Medicine, holding a plethora of annual conferences where you can learn from the very best of their respected fields. The London Vet Show, held annually in November, attracts over 200 professional speakers, and is the largest veterinary conference in Europe.
Special interest groups also hold high standard CPD (continued professional development) events each year, including those that focus on cattle, equine or small animal medicine, as well as more specific topics such as Emergency and Critical Care, Mental Health and Dermatology.
Veterinary employers generally offer permanent employees an annual CPD budget, as well as 5-days of paid study leave, so high quality training and conferences will be within your reach.
Choice in Out-of-hours Work
With the increase in demand for more specialised veterinary services has come the opportunity for the opening of dedicated ECC facilities in the majority of population centres within the UK.
Corporate chains like VetsNow operate out-of-hours clinics in over 60 locations, and cover the on-call work for 1400 practices. This means, unless you are a rural or large animal vet, chances are you can find a role with no out-of-hours work.
With a recent industry push towards improving work-life balance and protecting mental health, finding a job with uninterrupted weekends and evenings off is vital to some veterinarians, and something that is very achievable in the current UK market for small animal vets.
Incredible Vet Nurses
Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs) in the UK are held to a very high standard. With a minimum of two years of training under their belts, these professionals are equipped to help veterinary surgeons with a range of tasks, from monitoring anaesthesia, taking high-quality radiographs, giving repeat vaccinations and placing microchips.
RVNs can also work independently in the clinic, running their own consultations in areas from nutrition to behaviour.
Having highly trained and reliable veterinary nurses makes my work as a vet in a UK clinic much easier.
Safe Work Environments
Worried about rabies? How about distemper? Thankfully, the United Kingdom is an island, and many zoonotic diseases are either exotic or detected at a much lower prevalence compared to those in tropical and continental locations.
There also tends to be fewer dangerous wildlife species brought into vet clinics than in some other countries- no deadly snakes or large carnivores here. You will still have to deal with the sea-gulls though!
Shortage of Veterinary Surgeons
In 2019, after extensive lobbying by veterinary bodies, vets were reinstated to the UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
Over the past five years, there have been more clinical vacancies than vets in the UK, meaning that employers are more willing to be competitive and tailor roles to suit their applicants. And with the addition of the profession to the SOL, the cost and difficulty of applying for a working visa has been reduced.
Britain needs foreign vets, and they are willing to make it easier, and more attractive for you to make the move.
If you are considering travelling or relocating as a veterinary professional, the UK is a fantastic place to work. So make the most of this fascinating and challenging profession, and consider making the move!