Students encouraged to apply for vet school amid workforce shortage

The UK's vet workforce has traditionally relied on foreign vets registering to work here but numbers have almost halved.

A Perth vet practice is encouraging more school-leavers to apply for vet school as the industry faces a workforce crisis.

They want to dispel the common misconceptions which can put students off pursuing a career in veterinary science.

Camilla Church from Caithness graduated from vet school in 2015 and launched her own equine practice serving Perth and Kinross.

They’ve seen a rise in the number of young people confused about finding the best route into the profession and it’s something Camilla wants to address.

She told STV News: “As a school student myself you were told you need to get five A’s to get into vet school, if you don’t, just don’t bother applying.

“But I think there’s a lot of emphasis that grades are important and there are a lot of vet schools which that isn’t the case.

“It’s more what you’ve seen that you’ve gone out and you know what the job of a vet actually entails.”

The UK’s vet workforce has traditionally relied on foreign vets registering to work here.

But latest figures suggest numbers fell by almost half between 2018 and last year.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is warning the sector in Scotland needs to change to avoid a workforce crisis following the impacts of Brexit and the pandemic.

Dr Susan Paterson from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons said: “Recruitment is really important, we need to work really hard to be as diverse so we can to get people in from lots of different backgrounds, different social, educational, cultural backgrounds.

“But also, we need to make sure we have good retention, and we know within all the medical professions retention is a big issue and so we’re putting a lot of support in place to support our vets in practice, and particularly supporting new graduates.”

Scotland currently only has two vet schools based in the central belt.

But Scotland’s Rural College plans to open a third in Aberdeen next year.

It will be the nation’s first vet school for 150 years which aims to do things a little different.

Vivienne Mackinnon from SRUC School of Veterinary Medicine at Craibstone said: “There’s a shortage of vets across Scotland at the moment but that’s most acutely felt in more rural communities, in vet practices that treat farm animals and horses as well as pets.

“So we’re specifically designing our recruitment process to address that, so looking for applicants who are particularly interested in working in those rural communities with all species of animals.”

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