General practice is the most common career path for us veterinary students. In comparison to other specialist areas and referral practice, general practitioner vets tend to treat a large range of animals, both large and small. Most general practices you come across for work experience may be entirely small animal, large animal or be mixed.
Vets in general practice will examine and treat a range of conditions based on the facilities and experience of staff they have within their practice. In the case of a new graduate, this is the perfect opportunity to develop key surgical and clinical skills to enable specialism or just to become more efficient.
Most practices also offer tailored advice to owners on caring for their animals, such as how to feed, exercise and be aware of the appropriate vaccinations required for each species by offering information evenings and puppy parties which you may get involved with on work experience!
General practice jobs range in their working hours. Many small animal practices are 9-5pm Mon to Fri or Sat am's, with no out of hours work, whilst large animal practice tends to have longer hours with plenty of weekend out of hours work- especially at lambing time! Working as part of a team is imperative in general practice, and how big the team you work with depends on whether the practice you are working for is a small independent practice, or corporately owned.
Of course, just because you are a general practice vet does not mean you can’t have an interest in another veterinary area, or species. Whilst working in practice, most vets can study for a certificate-either species specialism (bovine, ovine, equine etc.) or subject area (cardiology, neurology etc.), or both! These certificates vary in their duration with most taking around 2 years to complete. In the long run these qualifications open more doors to the varied and rewarding job of being a vet in general practice!