8 tips for choosing a Veterinary School
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8 tips for choosing a Veterinary School

Congratulations! You’ve decided you want to become a veterinarian, now all you need to do is choose where to complete your training. With hundreds of veterinary schools around the world it can seem like an overwhelming decision, but if you follow these eight simple tips you can be confident you’ve made a great choice.

1. International Rankings

Not all veterinary schools are created equal. Don’t settle for any old veterinary degree, pick a school that will give you a world class education. When potential employers and future clients see you were trained at a university renowned for producing highly trained veterinarians that may give you the extra boost needed to land your dream job or build a successful business. You can find a list of the top veterinary science programs from around the globe on the QS World University Rankings website. The list is updated annually, with the rankings based on academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact.

2. International Accreditation

You never know where in the world life will take you, so make sure you’re prepared for the future by getting your veterinary training from an institution which has international accreditation. There are several accreditation bodies globally and the best veterinary schools will be accredited by more than one:

Accrediting body Qualifies you to work as a veterinarian in
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) USA and Canada
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) The United Kingdom, Europe and certain countries in Asia, including Singapore and Hong Kong
Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC) Australia and New Zealand
South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) South Africa

You can find a list of The University of Queensland’s Veterinary Science accreditations on our website.

3. Research Excellence

If a veterinary school is known for its cutting edge research that’s a good sign that the staff there are passionate about their work and committed to finding ways to improve the health and wellbeing outcomes for animals. It also means as a student you’ll be learning from experts who are constantly refreshing their knowledge and updating their skills. Depending on the country, there are often independent bodies which rank universities based on their research. The Australian Research Council provides an annual report on Excellence in Research in Australia, which rates universities across a range of research fields, including veterinary science.

4. Teaching excellence

Just because someone is an expert in their field, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re great at teaching. To get the most out of your training you want to learn from passionate, engaging teachers who can draw on their personal clinical and research experience and inspire you to be best you can be.  When you’re comparing veterinary schools it’s worth checking if the university’s professors and tutors are qualified in higher education or teaching as well as veterinary science.  You can also check to see if the school has won any teaching awards and what past graduates have to say about their classroom experiences.

5. Facilities

Which area of veterinary science do you want to specialise in when you graduate? Companion animals? Farm animals? Forensics? Maybe you want to work with exotic or zoo animals? Depending on your answer, that will determine which facilities you need to look for in a veterinary school. If you want a career working with horses, you’ll need to find a veterinary school with a specialist Equine Hospital where you can get hands-on experience and training. Similarly, if you attend an inner city school you may have to travel out to the countryside to get experience working with large farm animals. Ideally, you will find a school which has clinics, research labs, training hospitals and access to farmland animals all on the same campus where you complete your studies. That will save you travel time and allow you to observe surgeries and other interesting cases in your free time between classes.

6. Time to qualification

Depending on the university, you will have the option to complete your veterinarian training as either an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. Both options will result in you graduating as a fully qualified veterinarian, so when comparing benefits it really comes down to the difference in time and money. A five-year undergraduate degree is the shortest path to becoming a fully qualified veterinarian able to perform surgical procedures; however these programs often have limited places and high entry requirements. Postgraduate veterinary programs can be a fantastic option if you don’t have the grades or prerequisites to enter an undergraduate program, but it’s important to remember you will need to complete an undergraduate degree (minimum three years) before you can start your postgraduate veterinary training. This will considerably increase the overall cost of your university education.

7. Graduate options

Unless you’re 100% sure which area of veterinary science you want to specialise in, pick a veterinary school which will train you in the broadest range of options possible. This will not only give you a chance to decide what areas you most enjoy, but it will open up a greater number of employment options once you graduate. You might assume that all veterinary science graduates go on to work as veterinarians in private practice, but many become government advisors in health, trade and production fields, while others find jobs in research, or the agribusiness, animal or pharmaceutical industries. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where your career takes you, so long as your veterinary school gave you the best possible training to get you where you want to go.

8. Student Lifestyle

Studying is only part of your university experience. You’re going to spend between five and eight years completing your veterinary training so you want to pick a veterinary school that suits both your lifestyle and your future career. It’s important to consider the availability of things like accommodation and public transport to get to classes and clinics, and whether the campus has facilities like libraries, shops and cafeterias. It’s also worth checking if the university has community gyms, sporting clubs, hobby and interest groups which will add to your experience.

The University of Queensland’s School of Veterinary Science is celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2016.

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