New guide launched to bust misconceptions surrounding vet school applications - Veterinary Practice
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New guide launched to bust misconceptions surrounding vet school applications

Vets are being urged to make use of a new guide by the BVA to help them “myth bust” common misconceptions around applying for vet school with the aim of widening participation

Vets are being urged to make use of a new guide to help them “myth bust” common misconceptions around applying for vet school in order to encourage young people from all backgrounds to take the first step towards a veterinary career.

Veterinary medicine is considered to be highly competitive and the course is regularly touted as being one of the hardest to secure a place on. However, some leading veterinary organisations are concerned that sometimes young people are discouraged from applying due to hearing myths such as how difficult it is to be successful or what grades they require.

There is also a concern that trusted adults – such as teachers, careers advisers, parents and carers – may end up dissuading young people from pursuing veterinary careers through a desire to protect the young person’s feelings should their applications be unsuccessful, having concerns around funding the course or simply due to having incorrect information.

Having gone through the process of applying for and succeeding at vet school themselves, vets are in the unique position to be able to advise young people – whether they are family members or attend schools in their communities — who are considering joining the profession. 

It can be difficult to know where to start. But, a new guide, “Applying to study veterinary medicine“, has been created by the British Veterinary Association (BVA), Association of Veterinary Students (AVS) and Veterinary Schools Council (VSC). This guide will support vets hoping to inspire the next generation.

Launching at the start of National Careers Week (7 to 12 March 2022), the guide can be used as a resource for vets to help bust some of the myths young people and their trusted adults may have when it comes to joining the veterinary profession. Some of the myths that this guide is trying to bust are:

  • Grades: These can include believing students need to get straight A*s in order to get into vet school, when in fact this isn’t an entry requirement anywhere in the UK. In fact, although the typical conditional offers depend on the vet school, they can range from AAB to A*AA at A-level
  • Alternative routes: If students do not get the grades, or are not predicted them, getting into vet school is still achievable. Traditional application routes are not the only way to get into vet school; different pathways are available, including gateway programmes and foundation years which require lower grades and provide students with a preparatory year before entering the standard degree programme, widening participation schemes and graduate level entry
  • Private or state schools: There is sometimes a concern that students from private schools will be favoured during the application process, but getting into vet school is not based on which school you went to or “who you know”. Applications from students of all educational and financial backgrounds are encouraged by UK vet schools
  • Multiple applications: There is also a myth that, if unsuccessful on their first application, students will be penalised if they apply again. That is not the case, students can apply for vet school more than once and will not be penalised for a previous unsuccessful application

The hope is that by setting the record straight, potential vet students and those in a position to guide them through the application process will have the correct information and be reassured that getting into vet school is achievable for them, whatever their financial, educational or cultural background.

The guide also aims to provide information about the financial support which is available as well as who applicants can speak to if they are concerned about being able to afford to train.

BVA President Justine Shotton said: “As vets ourselves, we know getting into vet school is a challenge but we also know how rewarding it is. It is a brilliant first step towards a fantastic career and we want more young people to consider applying, no matter what their financial, educational or cultural background is.

“But BVA is concerned that some of the most common myths, such as needing all A*s, make it seem completely out of reach for some young people. These misconceptions risk putting potential students off and we need to help enable parents, carers, teachers and careers advisers to fully support students in making decisions about their career.

“We want to make sure these young people are given the correct information to help them reach their potential and realise that becoming a vet can happen for them if they work hard – no matter what their background is.

“If you’re in a position to advise a young person about their career, please take the time to read our guide or even pass it on to your own children or schools in your community so the vets of tomorrow can feel more confident about their chances of applying today.”

AVS President Charlotte Tobin-Williams said: “Everyone’s journey to Vet School is different and it’s a shame there are so many myths out there which can often dissuade a person from applying to what is such a fantastic career pathway. One of several focuses at AVS is to ensure we help those who are applying to vet school and to make sure applicants are aware there are these common phrases which may be said, but are often not the truth.

“It’s difficult as a vet student myself to hear more and more comments which are simply not true, and hopefully this document can help spread awareness in particular for parents, carers, teachers, career advisors and students. It would have helped so much if I had one of these documents to look through at high school as I was also often told that, for example, because I was applying from another country I may struggle at the application process – turns out that wasn’t true at all! So I would encourage everyone to have a read, and best of luck with any applications.”

Dr David Bainbridge, chair of the Veterinary Schools Council Admissions Committee and director of studies in veterinary medicine at St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge, said: “For many aspiring vet students, application to a vet school can seem daunting. It is therefore essential that applicants and those who support them through this process have access to accurate information.

“The Veterinary Schools Council welcomes the BVA’s new resource that will help debunk common misconceptions and highlight that veterinary medicine is a profession that is open to everyone. This resource will support the work of vet school admissions teams which, through VSC, annually collate entry requirements for all vet schools into one single guide.

“Vet schools are also working hard to widen participation into veterinary medicine through schemes such as gateway programmes and the use of contextual admissions. These alternative routes and diverse entry requirements are highlighted in the BVA guide.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the BVA and other colleagues in the sector to develop further resources that will ensure that lack of information is not a barrier to aspiring vet students. Vet schools remain committed to widening access to veterinary medicine so that any applicant who has the potential to succeed as a veterinary professional is given the opportunity to do so.”

To find out more about how to inspire and help young people who are considering joining the profession, visit the guide page on the BVA website.

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