Many overseas vets have a bit of an idea about UK practice and that’s why so many of them want to practise veterinary medicine in the UK, even if temporarily. However, not all we think is true actually is true. There are some myths about UK practice that I would like to debunk!
UK vets know more than overseas vets
This is a big issue especially as students. When we come from different countries, we think maybe we weren’t taught the same way and don’t have the same knowledge.
However, our technical knowledge is similar. Our practical knowledge is different and inferior (you haven’t been practising in the UK unlike UK vets and students) but what we learn in terms of disease and treatment is similar.
Other differences relate in practice styles relate to the availability of tests and treatment – while back home you may do a CT scan for a suspect hernia, in the UK you will do an MRI, because that’s the best test and is available. Same with “gold standard” treatments. Maybe in Italy you won’t have many owners treating hyperthyroid cats with radioiodine, but in the UK you should discuss this possibility with owners since it’s available for them.
You always do a lot of diagnostics
One of the frustrations we have overseas is often the lack of diagnostics because clients are unwilling to pay. So we try to fix the problem without knowing what the problem is. This wears us down – that’s not what we signed up for! The UK looks promising and attracting, but you won’t be diagnosing every problem that comes in either! So if you are thinking that all UK clients are happy to pay a lot of money so you can xray their dog which has vomited twice, you are not in luck. In some cases, you will not be able to run many tests, especially because they are expensive (that is not a myth…) and not every owner can afford it.
You will always practise gold standard diagnostic and treatments
Are you running away from shots of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and “come back if he’s not better”? Then choose your placement right. Of course this is not to say that practices don’t offer gold standard. Most of them do put all options on the table, but many of them don’t have clients that can follow gold standard. Many practices have clients that want problems fixed, not diagnosed (sound familiar?). You will still hear in first opinion “steroids, NSAIDs and antibiotics fix 90% of the issues”. So if you are looking for high standards of care, keep that in mind when you search for jobs and make sure that’s what the practice is offering.
You can practise in specialised fields when you start working in the UK
Ok so this is a bit more tricky and less myth. If you love skin and want to see skin disease all day long, you are looking at referral practice. Referral practice requires advanced study, either in the form of a certificate or diploma. It also comes with its own set of “rules” and “ways” specific to the UK. Therefore, unless you hold a European Diploma, a well-recognised certificate or are looking at internships, chances are you will find yourself in general practice and needing to know and do a bit of everything.
Small clinics don’t do much
You may want to do a lot and therefore you’re looking at hospital placements with a lot of “toys”. You think clinics won’t have that type of equipment. Well, that’s a myth! In countries like Portugal, there are “tiers” for veterinary practices, so it’s not unusual for clinics to do a lot of testing outside the premises and referring patients for imaging (usually at hospitals). However, most clinics in the UK don’t have that type of standards and will have a variety of inhouse equipment including full inhouse lab, digital x-ray, dental x-rays, ultrasound and even endoscopy and laparoscopic surgery. Some have CT scanners. Some have equipment for advanced orthopaedic surgery. Just because the place is a “clinic”, it doesn’t mean it’s not busy or offering gold standard. Clinics can have visiting specialists and performed advanced procedures. They have another big advantage compared to hospitals – chances are you will actually be doing a lot of the procedures, while in hospitals nurses will take over a lot of them. So you may actually be more involved in the “doing” at a clinic than at a hospital.