Lydon Veterinary Centre

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Career Development Advice

Continuing professional development (CPD) is a mandatory and key part of career development. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) recommends a minimum of 105 hours' CPD over a three-year period. The RCVS Professional Development Phase (PDP) that will be launched for new graduates in 2007 will provide a structured approach to help judge professional competences in small animal, equine or production animal practice.

It is possible to gain diplomas and certificates in a range of clinical specialities whilst working in a practice. A certificate will take around two years to complete. Some employers pay part or all of the course fees and you may be able to take time off to study. Certificates cover a wide range of areas, including ophthalmology, cardiology and orthopaedics. The RCVS is introducing modular certificates, which will replace the current certificate qualifications and are designed to be accessible to all vets and encourage lifelong learning.

There may also be the opportunity to train to become a Local Veterinary Inspector (LVI). Most practices will have a trained LVI who is authorised to carry out certain tasks on behalf of the Secretary of State (Defra). These tasks include testing cattle for tuberculosis (TB) and brucellosis, and the issue of documentation for the export of animals and animal products. There are a wide variety of other LVI tasks; you should contact your local Animal Health Divisional Office (AHDO) for details.

Newly qualified veterinary surgeons usually work as assistants for some time before being offered the opportunity to become a partner or a principal, although the number of opportunities for partnerships is decreasing, with many practices being owned by larger companies and all vets being employed. Not every vet will want to become a partner as it involves increased responsibility, the need for more business and management skills and a financial input into the practice.

There is the opportunity to increase specialisation, either in existing practices or in practices noted for expertise in a particular field, such as equine medicine, small animal surgery or dermatology. Further training is required for these specialisations, which can lead to a certificate or diploma. With further training, extensive professional experience and by publishing articles on your chosen area, it is possible to gain Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Recognised Specialist Status. Recognised specialists offer consultation in their chosen field

There are also opportunities to work for employers such as animal welfare societies and government services, for example in the State Veterinary Service (SVS), the Veterinary Laboratories Agency or the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD). The SVS is responsible for areas such as the control and eradication of major notifiable diseases and also has responsibility for animal welfare, promotion of international trade and certain public health functions related to residues in meat and investigation of food safety incidents. THe SVS also provides education to LVIs and members of the public on request. The Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) is involved in consumer protection, principally in the area of meat hygiene. The VMD is focused on the licensing of veterinary medicines.

It is also possible to pursue a research and/or teaching career within universities or research bodies.

Employment Sources and Related Jobs
Veterinary surgeons are typically employed in private practices in rural and urban areas. They may also work for zoos, animal hospitals and animal welfare societies, such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) and The Blue Cross.

Vets also undertake research, teaching and academic work in universities, research institutes and pharmaceutical companies. Veterinary research leads to a greater understanding of how diseases originate and spread, and what effect this has on animals. This leads to improved prevention strategies against specific diseases, including the production of vaccines, improved diagnostic tests, and the ability to breed healthy and productive animals. Comparison of physiological and pathological processes between species contributes significantly to our understanding of normal and diseased states. Veterinary researchers also play a particular role in food safety through the development of prophylactic, therapeutic and management strategies to prevent disease in food animal species

Overseas opportunities can be found with, amongst others, the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (a bursary for the last three years' training is possible, but commits the recipients to a minimum four years' commission) and Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO).

Vets in general practice are often sub-contracted for part-time work by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) or Local Authorities, inspecting hygiene and care standards in zoos, kennels, catteries, riding stables, pet shops and livestock markets. Approximately 400 work full-time for DEFRA, in either The State Veterinary Service (SVS) or the Veterinary Laboratories Agency. Other government agencies that employ vets include the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), the Food Standards Agency, the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS), the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Home Office.

Due to challenges within the farming industry following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001 and BSE, some practices are focusing more on domestic pets than on farm livestock.

Relevant jobs are occasionally advertised on the websites of the following government departments:

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA);