Case study

Farm veterinary surgeon — Anna Gerard

From cattle to alpacas, Anna works with a whole range of farm animals. Discover the benefits and challenges of working as a farm veterinary surgeon

How did you get your job?

I studied for a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine at the Royal Veterinary College, graduating in 2015. I found my job as a farm veterinary surgeon with Westpoint Farm Vets using a recruitment agency that I signed up to as a new graduate. They kept my details on file and called when they had something matching my skills and experience.

What's a typical working day like?

Pre-booked visits usually involve routine work such as dairy fertility visits, calf castrating, herd health planning and TB testing, to name a few.

We also get emergency calls, which vary depending on the time of year. In spring these are normally calvings, lambings or periparturient diseases. At other points in the year, calls are mainly about sick animals or injuries.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I love the variety, and that you can have calls for multiple different species of animal and ailments during the course of one day. We cover a range of species from cattle and sheep through to goats, pigs, game birds, alpacas and llamas. We even have some more exotic species like wallabies and emus.

What are the challenges?

Farm veterinary can involve a lot of solo work and a large amount of driving. It can be challenging to follow gold standard diagnostics due to costs. Breaking into farming circles can also be challenging at times.

How relevant is your degree?

Very relevant, although there was a limited amount of farm animal practical teaching, so it was useful to have a supportive teaching practice.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I hope to be still enjoying working as a clinical farm vet, and would like to complete a certificate in cattle medicine.

What advice can you give to others interested in veterinary medicine?

  • Be careful choosing your first job. For me, the most important thing at the start of my career was having a supportive team around to help with the transition into working life. Try to talk to some of the employees that are recently graduated or that are not partners in the business to get an idea of the place.
  • Use all the resources available to you when applying for jobs, such as job websites or talking to recruitment agencies, or while working, for example, colleagues, friends from vet school and online forums and Facebook groups.
  • Consider joining the British Veterinary Association (BVA) as they provide opportunities for professional development and networking, as well as support for students and newly qualified vets. Don't forget about the BVA Young Vet Network in your area - it can be really nice to meet other local vets outside your practice.

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