Current students and the Pathways team answer questions about applying for and studying Veterinary Medicine.
Thinking about Veterinary Medicine
I'm in 4th year and I'm about to pick my subjects for Higher... Can you recommend what I should take?
Pathways: When you register with us, you receive an advice sheet detailing the entry requirements for all the universities who offer Veterinary Medicine in Scotland - this is the place to start, to check you've covered all the subjects and grades you need. There are a mixture of requirements at Nat 5 and Higher level, all universities currently ask for Higher Chemistry, and we'd recommend taking at least 2 Advanced Highers to be competitive.
If you're ever in any doubt at all about what to choose in S4, S5 or S6, do get in touch with us by phone or email, and we're happy to advise on the best choices when applying for Veterinary Medicine.
I was wondering what kind of extra curricular activities you took part in during school, during 5th and 6th year?
Mark: "In my 5th and sixth year, on top of gaining the relevant work experience, voluntary work and grades (etc etc) I played for a local boys football club, represented my district and captained my school in the same sport. I also helped organise events and shows at my school, as well as being an active member of the charity and yearbook committee."
Scott: "In fifth and sixth year in school I was on the yearbook and charities committee and helped to teach first years in science an hour a week. Out of school I was involved through the instrumental music service in a number of local area bands, including one that has won a number of national awards. I also did a lot of volunteering at a service providing breaks for children with disabilities where I was gained a number of MV awards for my continuing commitment. Finally, I had built up my SCUBA qualifications as an outside interest."
Megan: "When I was at school I did a variety of different things. I enjoy dance and went to some different dance classes as well as taking part in Duke of Edinburgh and the Mark Scott Leadership for life award. I also enjoy creative things so went to a textiles evening class and enjoy ceramics, although I don't think these are things I particularly talked about in my application. It's also good to get involved in school committees or buddying schemes. I don't think it really matters what you do. It's important to demonstrate that you have other interests apart from studying. It shows them that you are a balanced person and that you enjoy a wide variety of experiences."
Pathways: Our students are spot on here - it's all about getting experience which is relevant to Veterinary Medicine where possible, but it's also about showing you're a well-rounded person. Remember that being a part of Pathways counts as an extra-curricular activity too! You will receive our 'career exploration' advice sheet when you register with Pathways, so this would be a great place to start if you're not sure about this.
Applying for Veterinary Medicine
What do you think are the most important decisions to make when choosing a university?
Karin: It's not just about the reputation, but finding out a bit about the city you are studying in, what support you get from course organisers and other schemes. Also, looking into course content, including things like exchange programmes, compulsory courses, outside courses available etc etc.
Brian: Essentially, there is no 'perfect university'. However, the best piece of advice is to just go with what you think is right for you. The 'Post Application Visits' which are in March will help you decide if you are undecided, as they give you a feel for what studying at the uni would be like.
Nicole: I had already decided to stay in Scotland to study as I didn't want the added debt of tuition fees in England, and if I had studied Law at an English University I would have had to convert to the Scottish system after graduating. Use of all the resources Universities make available to help make your choice - from prospectuses, tours, online information, accommodation information, etc. Ask some students at the University at an open day or through a friend what student life is really like.
Pathways: We'd recommend doing plenty of research when choosing your university - it is an important decision, as you'll be there for 4 years! Have a look at what you'll study on your course, and - perhaps more importantly - how you'll learn it. Some types of teaching and assessment might be more suited to you than others!
Remember to also think strategically about your choices - there's no point applying to universities who are all likely to ask you for the same grades, for example, as if you don't quite make them, you'll have no back-up!
When is the UCAS deadline, and what happens if I miss it?
Pathways: The UCAS deadline for Veterinary Medicine is 15th October, and you'll start university in the September of the following year, for example you'll apply by 15th October 2016 to begin studying in September 2017. If you missed it, you might want to consider taking a gap year to get more work experience, and then apply the following year. Some Universities will consider a late application through UCAS Extra.
I have an interview coming up - what should I wear, and what kind of questions will I be asked?
Pathways: Don't wear jeans or trainers, but don't go out and buy and expensive suit either! Dress smartly, but comfortably.
At the interview, remember not to panic! Interviews aren't supposed to be a test; they are simply an opportunity for you to show your enthusiasm for your subject. Talk about your career exploration and work experience, and what you've learned from them, and your enthusiasm should naturally shine.
If you are a part of Pathways, you will be invited to attend our interview workshops, where we'll go through good interview techniques and help you understand the whole process of interviewing at different universities.
When did you start hearing offers back from Universities such as Edinburgh? I've had offers for other Universities in January but still haven't heard from Edinburgh! Should I be worried?
Allana: I can remember the exact day I heard from Edinburgh for Law, it was 21 February, for some reason it always sticks in my mind! In saying that, I heard that Edinburgh can be as late as March.
Joe: Veterinary Medicine took ages to come through! Since they don't interview, I think they spend even longer on the applications than other Universities, as Edinburgh was the last one I heard from.
Pathways: Universities have up until the end of March to make all of their offers, so don't worry if you don't hear back quickly! And do keep in mind that if you've been waiting a while, or some of your friends have had their offers and you haven't, it doesn't mean you are less likely to be made an offer - all applications are considered equally, right up to the final deadline.
Studying Veterinary Medicine
What will I study?
Pathways: In years 1 and 2 you will build on your scientific knowledge from High School, learning relatively basic topics such as about the animal body, clinical skills, and animal life and food safety. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)requires that you complete 12 weeks of extramural studies, mainly gaining agricultural experience, before starting the third year of studies.
In years 3 and 4 you will focus on more clinical topics, such as veterinary pathology, public health, and take clinical courses in Farm animal, Dog & Cat, Equine and Exotics. By year 5 you will have enough knowledge to undertake your own research, and will do 'rotations': a wide variety of placements, where you will work with animals, using your medical and surgical skills while being supervised by senior staff.
I have heard that I might be able to do an 'Intercalated Degree' - what's this?
Students who perform well in their 1st and 2nd years can apply to do an intercalated year. This means that they effectively take a year out of Veterinary Medicine to do a one-year Honours degree in another subject. After completing the year, they go back into the third year of Veterinary Medicine.
I have heard that students get long holidays, but what is it like for Veterinary Medicine and what do people do over the holidays?
Louise: In first and second year I got 3 weeks at both Christmas and Easter and then about 16 weeks in the summer. During holidays most people either go on a long break or work for some of the time and then go on a shorter holiday/travel. Some people choose to do research projects over the summer.
Neil: In first and second year, medics follow the same term dates as everyone else. However after 3rd year things change a bit. 3rd year ends in June and you get 4 weeks summer before starting 4th year in July, the same happens between 4th and 5th year. In 4th and 5th year you get a short break after each 14 week rotation. Basically you start off with the same holidays as everyone else but get fewer and fewer as you progress through Veterinary Medicine!
What do I do after my degree to qualify as a doctor?
Pathways: You will receive our 'Training Route' advice sheet when you register with us. In short, to qualify you will need to complete your undergraduate degree in Veterinary Medicine, which will take 5 or 6 years depending whether you choose to do an intercalated degree. Then you will complete a two year training period as a foundation doctor, working in various clinical settings. You can then go on to train in a speciality, which can take anywhere between 3 and 7 years, depending on the speciality you choose.
For more general information about studying, such as Student Life and Finance, please go to our General FAQs page.