Writing a strong personal statement is a critical part of the application process to studying Veterinary Medicine. Not all of the Universities look in great detail at your statement, and tend to focus on interviews, however, some Universities hold the statements in higher regard, and may even ask you questions relating to your statement at interview.
Here are a few top tips on how to write a strong personal statement.
It is important to include why you want to be a vet. It is often the case that students feel tempted to write that they have been “wanting to be a vet since they were X years old”. While this statement does show an element of dedication to the profession, Universities are more interested in why you want to be a vet, and not how long you’ve wanted to be one. It may be helpful for you to organise your statement into distinct paragraphs to ensure that you have covered all of the bases. For example, the opening paragraph could be about why you want to study Veterinary Medicine, and what area of veterinary medicine interests you the most
A crucial part of your statement is mentioning the work experience that you have undertaken. A strong personal statement shows that you have engaged and learnt during your work experience - it may seem impressive to have racked up a large number of weeks working at the same kennels or stables, but the Universities are more interested in looking at your exposure to the wide variety that a career in Veterinary Medicine can offer. In the case of Veterinary Medicine, both quality and quantity of work experience are essential. When writing about your work experience, attempt to demonstrate the variety and breadth of your work experience, mention the soft skills that you have seen in practice (such as teamwork and communication) and highlight a few cases that piqued your interest. It is important to be aware that whatever you mention in your personal statement may be brought up at interview so make sure you are well versed in any treatments or diseases you mention. I would recommend keeping a journal throughout your days of work experience - and write down the answers to any questions that you have asked! It may also be beneficial to mention any extra research or reading that you have done in this paragraph, and link it to what you have seen on work experience.
It could also be helpful to mention any supplementary study you are doing alongside your chosen A Levels, such as an Extended Project Qualification, or if you have attended any lectures, or entered any science or essay writing competitions.
The final part of your statement is equally as important as the other paragraphs, as it gives the Universities a sense of who you are as a person. This is the best place to mention any activities (such as music, theatre and sports) that you are involved in, positions of responsibility you’ve held, and any non-vet related charity work that you have done.
Personal Statement Examples
I want to study Veterinary Medicine as I am interested in how worldwide animal health can impact the welfare of people and human-animal relationships. I was particularly inspired by the movement to limit the prophylactic use of antibiotics by farmers after the rise of superbugs was thought to have been affected by this practice, highlighting to me the wider responsibilities of vets beyond caring for animals. In Suffolk, I met a vet who had become a research scientist and she gave me a great insight into the scientific nature of the job, teaching me how to do blood smears and fecal egg counts. This heightened my awareness of the profession's increased focus on preventative medicine, for example FEC kits allow clients to monitor their worming treatments and thereby the amount of medicine required. During my week at CEMAS, I shadowed their Pharmaceutical Analysis team carrying out tests on Apitraz strips, which act as an insecticide against Varroa mites in beehives, another preventative treatment. When writing my Extended Project, 'Is the negative impact of the rise in the badger population since the 1970s on the cattle farming industry justification enough to continue the badger cull in the southwest of England?', I learnt how our health is dependent on the health of a range of other species, inspiring my interest in the 'One Health' initiative. The BMC journal 'The potential impact of BCG vaccine supply shortages on global pediatric tuberculosis mortality' highlights the prioritization of human patients during the shortage, despite the impact it had on the Welsh badger vaccination trial.
While doing work experience at a range of vet practices, I came to appreciate the role of the vet in educating the community. Farming is a profitable business and farmers must weigh up the value of animals against a costly vet call. If farmers remain informed about the welfare requirements of their animals, 'home treatments' can prevent animal suffering. While working on Blackland Farm in Wiltshire I met a dairy farmer treating cows with displaced abomasa by rolling them on their backs to return the abomasum to its normal position. When lambing in Scotland I helped reinsert a vaginal prolapse using a plastic retention device, saving the life of the ewe and the lamb. Both are quick and cheap solutions to unpredictable problems in the field.
Having passed my BHS stage 1 award, I was trusted to trot-up and restrain horses during a week at an equine practice in Suffolk, experiencing the physical requirements of the job. I was asked to give my opinions on possible diagnoses and helped to locate a corneal ulcer on a horse using fluorescein stain, drawing upon previous experience of seeing a similar one on a dog's eye at a practice in Dorset. During my weekly volunteering at Deen City Farm and my Farm Vets Taster course at Kingston Mauward college I worked with a variety of animals, including ultra-sounding pigs and running animal handling sessions for a diverse range of people. These sessions gave me the confidence to speak up when I felt someone was too rough with an animal, showing me the importance of putting the rights of animals first and upholding the 'Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons'. I experienced this first hand at a practice in Ross-shire when a puppy that was brought in two days in a row after eating rat poison had to be given 3% hydrogen peroxide on both visits. The vet had to step-in and firmly advise the owner not to let it happen again.
Over the last two years I feel I have built up a realistic understanding of the requirements and responsibilities associated with the veterinary profession and am convinced this is the career for me. I am determined to contribute to the profession by committing myself to research and professional practice to improve treatments, animal care and farming. I look forward to the challenges I will face and the chance to play a role in the promotion of both animal and human health.
Despite being bitten in the face by a royal python during work experience, I remain determined to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. It gives me the opportunity to investigate medical cases and solve problems, as well as explore my interests in biology and chemistry, and animal rights, welfare and husbandry. I am interested in antibiotic resistance, inspired by a lecture by Dame Sally Davies on drug resistant infections. My EPQ examines the impact of veterinary medicine on antibiotic resistance and I have worked in the laboratories at an equine hospital identifying bacteria to select the most effective antibiotic to treat an infection.
At two small animal practices I watched first opinion consultations and routine surgeries such as spays, castrations and a rabbit enucleation. I learnt that empathy, professionalism and the ability to read emotions are essential skills for a vet, particularly when engaging with owners. The importance of teamwork was evident at the equine hospital as many surgeries required numerous vets and nurses, especially in the aftercare of colic cases. At an urban farm I worked with a broad range of livestock and exotics, observed lambing, and assisted with animal handling displays (where I was reminded of the unpredictability of animals). I participated in the Zoo Academy course at London Zoo where I learnt about anatomy, exotic species, animal behavior and welfare. I am interested in how enrichment triggers natural behaviors, and so I read ‘Animals in Translation’ and ‘On Aggression’, amongst others, to understand animal behavior. The importance of pet passports and protecting the UK from imported zoonotic diseases were emphasized at Gatwick Airport's Animal Reception. This is important given the most recent outbreak of H5N6 avian influenza which led to the implementation of a Bird Flu Prevention Zone. I saw the significance of protecting British wildlife at a wildlife hospital. I volunteered in October when the number of hedgehogs requiring care was overwhelming the hospital. I removed ticks, treated lungworm and fed the hedgehogs to ensure they had sufficient fat reserves to enter hibernation.
I founded a dissection society at school to interest younger students in anatomy and hone my organization skills. It has prepared me for practical’s as a student, as I am more familiar with the anatomies of various animals. I mentor GCSE students in science, which has aided my skills in simplifying complex information and communication, which will be beneficial when talking to owners. I enjoy improving my biological knowledge by attending Biology Book Club, where a book chapter is selected weekly and discussed. I am curious about cancer treatments in animals and humans, and am presenting at my school’s science society on CAR-T therapy as it is being introduced into the NHS and is a potential treatment of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in dogs.
I play senior netball and enjoy outdoor activities. I find sport allows me to clear my thoughts, disconnect from school life and improve my teamwork skills. I enjoy performing, and attended Stagecoach Theatre Arts for 12 years, have taken LAMDA and singing exams, and played Jane Bennett in the school production of Pride and Prejudice. In April I went to Nepal to volunteer at an HIV center and experience another culture. The lack of a common language meant that we relied on nonverbal communication, which is relevant to a vet as body language can reassure owners and patients. I am confident in my ability to cope in challenging situations as I was present in the worst hit area of Lombok, Indonesia during the earthquake in August. A level of desensitization to death whilst remaining calm and focused was invaluable. I will be able to cope with the decisions that a vet has to make. As a member of the school charity committee, I am fundraising to help the rural communities that sheltered my family in the earthquake. I believe I have the capability to succeed as a vet.
My work experience provided a vital insight into the demands and intricacies of being a vet. Observing tuberculin skin testing re-emphasized the link between animals and the food chain; assisting the farmer and vet at Buckmoorend Farm was invaluable. The process and importance of the testing fascinated me; using calipers to measure skin thickness, timings of the procedure, receiving an inconclusive result and retesting that cow 42 days after the first test. This proved negative and the herd wasn't restricted. This increased my awareness of large animals and cattle husbandry.
Small animal practice weeks exposed me to a variety of cases; a rare case at Wendover Heights was a prolapse in a ribbed python. Nurses explained the importance of relaxing the snake with ketamine then intubating to avoid the snake holding its breath. A tumour was found, so the snake was put to sleep; ethically this was the correct outcome to avoid an untenable quality of life. Such decisions are difficult but prioritising the wellbeing of the animal is paramount. Witnessing euthanasia has been valuable preparation for future difficult ethical decisions and illustrated the importance of communication skills between the vet, team and client in order to deliver difficult news.
Visiting Bristol teaching abattoir reinforced the importance of animal welfare. I also learnt more about the ethics behind slaughter and the ethos behind non-intensive farming whilst working in a local farm shop. The job demands good people skills, adaptability during busy periods, excellent customer service and co-operation with co-workers and customers of all ages. My job as a Kennel Maid required commitment to the animals in my care, teamwork and rota duties covering Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. These jobs mirror the demands and communication skills required to build good relationships with clients and colleagues within practice.
Completing the Edinburgh University MOOC, 'EDIVET: Do you have what it takes to be a veterinarian?' in 2017 gave an insight into anatomy and histology. This led to a desire to broaden my knowledge of anatomy, specifically the horse; I have been reading the British Horse Society Veterinary Manual focusing on the limbs of the horse due to their fascinating complexity.
My A levels have developed my analytical skills, an essential element of solving cases. My 4th A level, Geography, has given my studies breadth, utilising my organisation and time management skills. My Independent Investigation has relied on research, planning and deadlines which are key skills in case management. At school I was elected Chemistry Ambassador, supporting younger pupils at a weekly clinic. Providing academic support is rewarding and beneficial; improving my patience and teaching style whilst building trust to create an approachable environment. My nomination for Science Oxford’s Young Scientist of the Year has encouraged me to further stretch and challenge myself academically; a Veterinary degree would build on this.
Playing netball at school, club and county level has developed my interpersonal skills with teammates and coaches. Captaining school netball teams for 4 years has strengthened my leadership skills and coaching Year 8 netball for my Gold DofE has been great fun. Playing in school jazz band is exciting and requires close co-operation; all great preparation for professional life. I also enjoy individual achievements; achieving Grade 7 piano and qualifying for GB Age Group Triathlon in 2018 and 2019 demand independent motivation and resilience. My love of sport and music allow me to relax and I look forward to continuing both at university.
Growing up, I spent my summer holidays on the family farm in Wales and being involved in the rearing of livestock made me recognise the role animal farming plays in society. It also sparked an interest in animal welfare and as a result I became vegetarian. My concern for the health and wellbeing of animals significantly influenced my decision to become a vet.
In addition, my enthusiasm for science has led me to pursue the study of veterinary medicine. I recently visited the Hunterian museum, attended chemistry lectures at UCL, and enjoyed a presentation by the author Nessa Carey. I was interested in her work on epigenetics because I was fascinated by the link between early environmental factors, such as parental attention, and the behavioural traits of offspring and I witnessed this during my time lambing. Studying organic Chemistry at A level alongside Biology has given me a basic understanding of the synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs and their applications in science. Another aspect of my course that intrigues me is the manner in which the body defends itself against infection as I observed during my work experience at various veterinary clinics. I am looking forward to my internship at Kew Gardens Laboratories next year which will supplement and reinforce my studies.
My work experience over the past few years has not only boosted my enthusiasm for becoming a vet but it has also provided me with invaluable insight into a career working with animals. One of my first experiences of surgery was a canine extraction in a young dog which demonstrated the hands-on physical nature of the profession. I was interested to see that the hole in the gum is often left unstitched to prevent infection. After observing numerous consultations I learnt that a large part of a vet's job is communicating with people. Sensitivity and clarity are of utmost importance as well as the ability to elicit information from pet owners. A difficult aspect the job is the reality of euthanising animals but I came to realise from my time spent at veterinary practices that it is often the most merciful option. The most demanding of my placements was my time spent lambing in Crawley; in particular, it was the newly born lambs, rejected by their mothers, that for me was the most challenging aspect of the job. I learnt that for economic reasons the shepherd could not spend valuable resources and time providing care. I therefore found it rewarding to see the adoption of these lambs by older foster mothers because of my involvement in choosing the surrogates. Prior to moving the ewes and lambs out into the field I would feed them an antibiotic solution that would promote growth and prevent infection to the sheep. I was intrigued by the effects this would have on promoting antibiotic resistance in agriculture particularly as I have attended talks by my peers on the subject.
I also visit the Mary Seacole House on a weekly basis as a volunteer, where I help and support old people, some of whom are recovering from strokes and others who have various degrees of communication difficulties.
Studying for the Biology and Chemistry Olympiads was rewarding and I was pleased to receive bronze certificates for my work. I was also proud to be awarded the school Biology prize this year.
Tutoring a student at my school has taught me valuable lessons in planning and organisation as well as how to communicate in a concise and empathetic way. I attend debating club and Chemistry and Biology societies. These have fostered my listening skills and provided a public platform for me to articulate opinions and arguments. Playing rugby for my school and working with my peers to design an aircraft for the School Aerospace Challenge have showed me the benefits of teamwork. My work experience, commitment to science and extracurricular activities have motivated me to pursue a career as a veterinarian. I feel I have the capacity for the sustained hard work that the profession requires.
Being a vet is more than the empathy you feel towards an unwell animal and curing them. The profession requires physical and emotional strength when handling difficult tasks. It is also not only about curing one individual, but using your knowledge to treat a variety of cases. The book "Zoobiquity" made me realise that I don't want to do veterinary medicine just because I like animals, but because of the research and ultimate goal of reducing the split between animal and human standards of treatment.
Work experience confirmed to me that I have the qualities to succeed as a vet. Physical strength is vital, which I have built up by playing squash for six years as a hobby and competitively. During two weeks of lambing, I delivered a lamb that was orientated backwards. If I was not as strong as I am now, I would not have been able to deliver the lamb safely without breaking its ribs. Walking out horses that have been on box rest also showed how strength is important, as if they were able to pull free it could result in further injuries. Accompanying physical strength is emotional stability. During two weeks of work experience at veterinary practices, I was asked to monitor the respiratory rate of a malnourished dog with breathing difficulties. The dog was in an oxygen tent, that I helped create, and I monitored him for five hours. His condition did not improve. I understood that his quality of life was low and that euthanasia may be the best option. The next day I learnt that the dog had passed away. Getting attached is not advisable, especially if the outcome could be negative. This makes moving on to another case emotionally difficult. I carried out three weeks of work experience in Slovakia, one of which was with a small animal vet. After the practice closed, we would visit the petting zoo to check on the exotics they had. Here I saw that the staff weren't as educated as the staff I worked with in an urban farm/petting zoo in London, which is why the vet chose to visit the zoo every day. Educating people in animal welfare is just as important as treating the animals themselves. Consultations I observed showed how important communication was so that owners could understand their pet's condition. Volunteering for a year at a primary school teaching mathematics and tutoring a Slovakian student over Skype, has made me value the knowledge I can pass on and shown that I can effectively communicate in a way everyone can understand. I like to challenge myself in my own education. I participated in the Biology Olympiad, Chemistry Olympiad and Maths challenge, successfully receiving certificates in all of these. What is even more important to me is that I expand my knowledge and tackle complicated concepts. Personal experiences with canine epilepsy led me to read research papers and realise that the medication my dog receives is actually for humans. This lead me to write an essay on the use of human aspirin in veterinary medicine for a chemistry project. The vets I met all admitted that the journey to becoming, and the practice of being a vet is stressful and takes up a lot of free time. I am not deterred by this as I am often faced with a large workload. For four years I attended school in Slovakia alongside school in England. My holidays were full of visits abroad to go to school and take exams. But I never regret the hard work I put in, as it made me more organised and fluent in a European language that is considered to be one of the hardest to learn. Working without breaks does not allow me to reach my full potential. Squash allows me to relieve stress while staying fit, strong and healthy. While horse riding and volunteering with horses every weekend lets me focus on the present and learn more about equine health. I know that I have the emotional and physical strength to succeed as a vet. More importantly, I have the dedication, confidence, patience and persistence to commit to a long and intense university course.
"26,412 cattle were culled in England due to Bovine Tuberculosis in 2014"; this figure illustrates how important veterinary medicine is, especially for farmers whose entire livelihoods depend on a healthy, TB free herd. I saw the importance of testing for TB in wildlife firsthand when volunteering at a wildlife centre and assisting with their bi-annual bird catch to test for avian TB. During my research on TB prevention and transmission between species I read 'Spillover' by David Quammen, a study of major zoonosis such as Ebola and Hendra virus. When spending a week at a dairy farm calving I helped with HUSK vaccinations for lung worm, the economic importance of these vaccinations hit home when later I saw the meat inspectors at an abattoir disposing of any lungs with lung worm; disease prevention is a huge part of animal care especially in livestock.
During my lambing week I thoroughly enjoyed the responsibility of ensuring safe birth of the lambs, injecting the lambs suffering from erysipelas polyarthritis with Synulox and checking on the flock; that sense of purpose is a feeling I would like to enjoy throughout my career. It was also a sobering experience as I came across many lambs who had either died from a fox attack or were dying, which, whilst it was upsetting at first, taught me that as a Vet you need to develop emotional resilience and that not every animal can be saved. I spent a week with a University Professor who specialises in small animal ophthalmology and animal welfare where we discussed ethical issues such as whether you should breed blind battery farmed chickens so that they didn't peck at each other. Following this, I wrote a presentation on animal ethics which I gave to my class and at the school's Biology Society. I analysed the different arguments for animal rights and included Tom Regan's 'inherent value' philosophy outlined in 'The Case for Animal Rights'. Through this experience I developed my ability to communicate complex issues in a clear manner. The value of effective communication was underlined when I witnessed the diagnosis of corneal ulcers; owners found it difficult to accept that the ulcer would heal without medicine as they felt helpless not doing anything. I would like to study Veterinary Medicine because I love interacting with people as well as animals. My seven weeks of work experience have reinforced my passion for veterinary medicine and to consolidate my observations during these placements I created XXXX.blogspot.com.
I have taught horse riding at a stables for 6 years where I practice client interaction; talking to parents about their children's progress or teaching adults and children. I also teach younger helpers care and management of the horses, which along with mentoring younger years in science at school, has enabled me to become more efficient at breaking down complicated pieces of information into simpler terms which will be an essential skill when talking to owners. I also find the continual learning aspect of Veterinary medicine appealing as I like to be challenged intellectually.
I sat the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge and Senior Maths Challenge achieving a copper and silver, and will be taking Biology Olympiad this year. I am a prefect and was recently instrumental in persuading a scholarship applicant to take a place at the school as she is also keen on Veterinary Science. I understand how intensive Veterinary Medicine is and the importance of having other interests. I would like to contribute to university life through acting, singing and sport. I have performed in a children's opera company for nine years and I also perform in the school choir and school plays. Drama AS taught me a lot about teamwork as the marks partly rely on the rest of the group; organising rehearsals and motivating my group helped to improve my leadership skills. As a keen swimmer, horse rider and member of a triathlon club I would be interested in taking up modern pentathlon.
The sudden death of a seemingly healthy cheetah in a sanctuary sparks many questions. Spending time in the wild and subsequently reading the autobiography of Dr Clay Wilson, ‘Bush Vet’, I organised work experience with a wildlife vet based in Hoedspruit, South Africa. I spent two weeks with Dr. Peter Rogers working with several endangered species, finding the varied challenges of vets in the area both fascinating and inspiring. On this cheetah, we performed a post mortem, and after a thorough examination of its digestive system found a rope lodged in the oesophagus. Dr Rogers continued to do a complete dissection using it as a teaching opportunity to better my understanding of the anatomy, which interestingly mirrored that of rats dissected in biology practicals.
My first experience of a working small-animal clinic was an emergency case; a cat, having been run over, was rushed into theatre on arrival. From initial checks, the vet assessed it to have several broken bones and possible nerve damage – an X-Ray and bloods were taken for detailed analysis. Throughout, the vet and staff had to monitor the cat, console the owners, and relay critical updates to one another. This made me realise the importance of communication skills and empathy for others, along with the scientific knowledge necessary for the job.
Working at a Welsh farm allowed me to experience a completely new aspect of veterinary work; the need to be on-site and constantly vigilant during the lambing season kept the hours long, and despite this it became the most enjoyable week of my work experience calendar. Although the sheep rarely responded in the way I willed them to, each hour came with new, sometimes rewarding, surprises. During my time on the farm, I learnt that decisiveness and action was paramount to minimising veterinary intervention. Wishing to further explore the different branches of veterinary medicine, I chose to work at a nearby horse-riding stable, which allowed me to build confidence around horses. It quickly became apparent how dissimilar these two animals were, thus requiring completely different handling and management techniques.
Having written the lead article in the first edition of my school magazine entitled “How Science Can Reduce the Illegal Trafficking of Rhino Horn”, I was eager to learn the primary methods of protection being used by vets out in the field. In my research, I found many available strategies for countering the levels of poaching, but according to Dr Rogers, some of these have proven ineffective, whilst others such as de-horning have been more successful.
I am a keen sportsman and musician and was awarded a Sixth Form Music Scholarship. Having played in the Ealing Youth Orchestra for several years, as a trumpeter and principle percussionist, I toured Hungary and Belgium.
The fact that the typical day of work can vary considerably, requiring adaptability and quick thinking, is attractive to me and suits my work ethic. The extensive branches of the profession are also appealing, as I could either work with a number of species or specialise. Furthermore, communication and teamwork skills are vitally important attributes, which I demonstrate by actively participating in the senior debating society and by playing in the 1st XI Hockey team.