Scotland’s largest independent veterinary group is overwhelmed with wannabe vets

Thrums Vet School Preparation Programme

A PIONEERING new three-day programme designed to give 16 and 17-year-olds a taste of life working in veterinary medicine, hosted by Scotland’s largest independent veterinary group, Thrums Vets, has been a roaring success and generated huge levels of interest from across the UK. 

After receiving applications from as far away as Glasgow, Leeds and even London, Thrums, which has four practices in Angus and Perthshire, is already planning to host several similar events soon.

The Thrums Vet School Preparation Programme is designed to give young people considering a veterinary career, an insight into the role of a vet in a mixed practice, which serves pets, farm animals and equine. Crucially, it has also been devised to help tackle the ongoing recruitment crisis currently facing the veterinary industry.

An initial post on Thrums’ Facebook page to gauge interest in the course was shared more than 300 times, which resulted in more than 45,000 people viewing it.

The applicants were then whittled down to eight young aspiring vets, who spent three days at Thrums. During this time, they participated in numerous farm visits and attended small animal appointments, as well as continually talking with Thrums’ existing team members, who also advised them on completing vet school applications.

In addition, participants were shown how to carry out a variety of clinical examinations on animals, as well as learning how to suture and bandage, and they also participated in a half day lambing course.

Gavin Durston, a director from Thrums, said: “This programme is one of the first of its kind in the UK and we launched it as a proactive way to help ease the veterinary industry’s recruitment crisis, over the long-term, rather than just staring into the void and blaming everyone else. We already run a very successful new graduate programme and we’re now planning to make this course an extension of that.

“We came up with the initiative after collaborating with colleagues at XL Vets, the community of independently owned veterinary practices that continually shares and develops ideas, and several other forward-thinking practices are already looking at how they can introduce similar schemes. 

“Crucially, it’s much more hands-on than traditional work experience, where school pupils come into the practice but are unable to join in. It’s designed to give young people the opportunity to experience first-hand what being a vet entails, as well as how rewarding it is as a career. After three days the participants had their eyes completely opened to what the job is like, and they all now have a mentor to support them in what they do next.

“The team from Scotland’s Rural College’s (SRUC) new School of Veterinary Medicine in Aberdeen also came and talked about the different routes to becoming a vet and explained how it’s not just about A-level results, but about having the right attitude and support.”

Stephanie Duncan, senior vet at Thrums who organised the initiative, added: “As well as offering lots of interaction with farm animals and pets visiting our practices, our team were also on-hand to share their experiences in the profession, talk about alternative veterinary careers and answer everyone’s questions.

“We’ve all been amazed with the response and the interest generated and we’re now organising further courses, as well as exploring how we can expand it into vet nursing and animal care courses too.

“If we get this right, it’s a long-term plan to help fix the industry’s recruitment issues and hopefully deliver a cohort of excellent, engaged, resilient and skilled individuals into the profession. It’s a win for the young people, it’s a win for Thrums and it’s a win for the industry.”

For further details about the upcoming Vet School Preparation Programmes, contact or call 01575 572643.

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