A lot of times, vet students from different countries think about spending some time in the UK as part of their studies. However, many will also struggle to be able to find the right placement for them… So let’s look at a few things you can do to help you out:
Search in advance
You want to make sure you give it plenty of time, at the very least 6 months, but ideally 8 to 12 months. In some cases (highly requested programs), you may even need to start searching earlier. Nonetheless, this is the thing – you are only “defeated” if you stop trying! So give it plenty of time to save up money and get your training under way!
Make sure you know what you are looking for
Placements in the UK as a student will usually be “seeing practice” only, meaning you get to see, but what you do may be limited. Often this is due to practice liability and not because of a lack of trust on you! However, in other cases you may end up at a pretty relaxed practice that lets you do things in front of the owners! So, before you start searching for places, make sure you know the type of practice you want to see (first opinion vs. referral), the animals (companions vs. farm vs. equine), the clinical setting (clinic vs. mobile practice vs. large hospital) and whether you want to see emergencies or not.
Search for places that already take students – EMS
In the UK, vet students are required to spend time away from the university gaining skills, these are called Extra-Mural Studies, or EMS, and several practices will have some of these placements available. That means these practices are much more likely to be happy to accommodate students, since they are already used to having them around.
In order to find these practices, you can visit the RCVS Find a Vet Directory and select only EMS Practices under the “Training” section!
Use your network
Knowing someone that knows someone is a great way to get introduced to vets that are working in the UK and that may be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to finding a place to spend some time at. You should try to find out amongst your friends, colleagues and teachers whether any of them has contacts in the UK! It is better for you to try and reach out to them than sending a general email via their website.
Look into student exchange programs
Although UK Universities don’t participate in the exchange Erasmus program (but you can still apply for a grant yourself), there are other organisations that do – one of them is the International Veterinary Students’ Association, which runs exchange programs both individually as well as in groups. I know we’re talking about the UK here, but the exchange programs are also available for other countries!
Make it as personal as possible
Try to understand if the places you are looking into are independent practices or if they belong to a corporate group. Also try to find out who is the person you should be talking to (if required, send a general email mentioning you are a student looking for a placement and would like to know who you should speak to at the practice). Then make sure you treat each communication carefully and showcase your English skills. Be prepared to talk to the person responsible for student placements on the phone!
There’s a lot to this subject. I also suggest you have a look at BVA student membership, as there are some nice perks in case you spend some time abroad, such as EMS insurance, and may be a good “selling point” for you to place on your CV and cover letters.
Guide for Students
If you are interested in learning more about visiting the UK as an overseas veterinary student, check this out and see if you want to know when the complete guide is released!