To specialise or not to specialise?

Written by: Vet Times Jobs
Published on: 7 Mar 2019


Image © Lorenzo Finotti

After graduating from university as a qualified veterinary practitioner, you may be wondering whether you're ready to start work or if you should continue to study in order to specialise in a particular field.

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you're in the dilemma of whether to specialise or continue as a general practitioner.

Are you prepared for more study?

After at least five years of study to become a qualified vet, you should weigh up whether or not more study is right for you.

If your heart isn't into studying, or your mind is simply not in the right place, you won't make the most of extra study and could find yourself feeling unhappy. You may benefit from working in general practice for a few years until you feel ready to begin your studies again.

What are your motivations?

If you want to specialise in a certain area based on your love of a particular animal or field, it's likely the hard work of extra study is worth it; you'll get far more job satisfaction from doing something you feel truly passionate about.

However, if your motivation for specialising is financial, you should weigh up whether or not a higher salary is worth the extra stress – not only from study, but in finding a job in your chosen field.

Are you prepared to travel?

With thousands of domestic animal surgeries across the country, being a general veterinary practitioner will make it easier to gain employment. If you specialise, you may find it harder to find suitable jobs in your field as they will be a little less common.

If you're prepared to relocate for the perfect job in your specialist field, there's no question it's the right thing to do. But if you want to stay in a particular location, you should investigate the local job market to discover whether there is a demand for specialists in your chosen field.

Of course, veterinary surgeons who specialise can still work in general practice, but after extra years of studying you may find yourself feeling frustrated and dissatisfied that you're not working in your specialist field. Travel may be necessary in order for you to land your dream job, so be prepared for that if you do choose to specialise.