Types of UK Veterinary Practice

A little information about your local Veterinary Practice, and what type of practice your vet may have and what it does.

A veterinary practice, which can also be known as a veterinary centre, veterinary clinic, veterinary surgery or animal hospital, is in most cases a small business offering a range of services to clients and animal patients.

Many people are involved in delivering the Veterinary service and ensuring that you as the client get the best care for your horse, in the most efficient manner.

The Vets in the Veterinary Practice …

Veterinary surgeons
The veterinary surgeon in your practice may be the sole principal, or a partner, an associate or a locum.

In the case of corporate animal practices, the veterinary surgeon may be a clinical director or a salaried employee.

Veterinary Practice

A principal is the sole owner of the practice, whereas partners have a financial stake in the practice. The business responsibilities of principals and partners are often onerous – as is the case in any small business – since they are involved in the management and running of the veterinary practice. The salary of a principal/partner will vary depending on how well the practice has fared in the last financial year.

Associates (Assistants)
Are other veterinary surgeons employed by the partners. They are mainly involved in the clinical side of practice in seeing clients and their patients. They generally do not have financial or managerial responsibilities for the practice.

Locum Vets
Are employed on temporary contracts of varying length. They are often employed to cover colleagues on sick leave, study leave or maternity leave.


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Veterinary Surgeons and their training …

Veterinary surgeons all possess a recognised veterinary degree from one of the six UK veterinary schools or an overseas school that is recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) which is the UK regulatory body.

It usually takes five years (except for Cambridge where it takes six years) to obtain a veterinary qualification. There are six universities in the UK which offer a veterinary course; Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and London.

The degree course is a combination of clinical and practical training with over 40 weeks spent working in veterinary practices, farms and other animal establishments, laboratories and abattoirs.

The Role of the Veterinary Nurse …

Veterinary nurses (VNs) play a key role in the veterinary practice. They work alongside veterinary surgeons in order to provide a high standard of care for animals. Normally working within a veterinary surgery or hospital, veterinary nurses provide skilled supportive care for sick animals as well as undertaking minor surgical procedures, medical treatments and diagnostic tests under veterinary supervision.

VN’s also play a key role in educating owners in how to maintain good standards of animal care.


Veterinary Practice

The types of veterinary practice a vet can run.

Some practices only deal with small animals, others only equine. The majority however will deal with all animal species.

Some veterinary practices also offer particular facilities and/or services which classify them as different types of veterinary practice.

Getting to know what some of these veterinary terms mean will be useful in helping you choose a goo veterinary practice for your horse.

RCVS Accredited Practice –

The RCVS Practice Standards Scheme was launched on 1 January 2005. It is the only scheme representing the veterinary profession and was set up to :

Establish a quality assurance framework to promote and maintain the highest standard of veterinary care. To make more information available about veterinary practices, and so give clients greater choice.

The RCVS Practice Standards Scheme has been embraced by the entire veterinary profession and supersedes two schemes, one run by the British Veterinary Hospitals Association (BVHA)/Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and another by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA).

BEVA Listed Practice

A list certifying that for 2005/6, Annex A of the BEVA Code of Practice for Veterinary Surgeons using Artificial Insemination for Breeding Equids will be complied with and that facilities exist for the the correct handling and insemination of frozen and chilled semen. The list has been compiled by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) as a service to the equine industry, and inclusion on the list is by self-certification.

Charity Clinic

A non-commercial practice run by a charity such as the PDSA, RSPCA or Blue Cross that normally offers veterinary services only to clients who meet specified criteria (e.g. income). Please check with the clinic what restrictions apply when you first contact them.

Secondary Referral Only

This is a practice that only takes cases referred by other practices and does not undertake consultations directly with members of the public.

Non-Clinical Practice

This is a practice that does not examine or treat living animals. It may undertake pathological, legal and food hygiene work.

Veterinary Nursing Training and Assessment Practice (VNAC or TP)

Veterinary Nursing Approved Centres (VNACs) and Training and Assessment Practices (TPs) are involved with the training of student veterinary nurses.

VNACs are organisations approved to enroll student veterinary nurses with the RCVS and to manage their training and assessment for National/Scottish Vocational Qualification (S/NVQ) awards. These centres often comprise a group of veterinary practices, all of which can offer the resources and veterinary caseload necessary to support student VN training.

TPs are practices that have the requisite caseload, equipment and staffing resources deemed necessary by the RCVS to support the in-service training and assessment of Veterinary Nursing students.

EMS (Extra Mural Studies) Practice

An EMS (Extra Mural Studies) Practice is one which has indicated it is prepared to offer placements to veterinary undergraduates who are enrolled at a university and are training to be veterinary surgeons.

EMS is a compulsory part of all UK veterinary undergraduate courses, and practices play a vital role in helping to train the next generation of veterinary surgeons.

Students must undertake a minimum of 38 weeks during their course gaining experience outside their university, in a variety of practices, on farms and on other veterinary-related work placements. As part of their training students may be involved in the diagnosis and treatment of animals whilst they are undertaking EMS, but only under the direction and supervision of a qualified veterinary surgeon