How to Start a Veterinarian Business in the UK

Prior to starting a career as a veterinarian, one should volunteer at a local animal shelter to ensure that one has the qualities that will be needed for a life-long devotion to animals.

Veterinarians must possess empathy, a love of animals, excellent diagnostic skills, excellent people skills, and the business skills to run an office smoothly, professionally, and profitably. Unlike human patients, animals cannot accurately describe their symptoms. The veterinarian must be able to listen to the symptoms that the owner is describing, observe the symptoms that the animal is exhibiting, and render a plan of treatment. He must advocate for appropriate treatment for his patient and educate the owner regarding the proper care of his pet.

Once a candidate has chosen veterinary medicine as his career path, he must achieve high marks in high school. He must be particularly strong in math, chemistry, biology, and communications. He must continue his education with a bachelor’s degree that emphasizes pre-med courses including anatomy, physiology, biology, and pathology. Successful candidates then apply for admission into one of the accredited veterinarian schools under the auspices of The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Most such universities require its applicants to have experience working with large and small animals in a position of responsibility. Many universities also require that the applicant pass the BioMedical Admissions Test. Successful applicants complete a course of study lasting between five and six years. Upon graduation, the veterinarian then chooses a specialty. He may want to work with small animals, large animals, specific breeds, or focus solely on horses.

Legal Matters

All veterinarians must register with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and comply with the regulations and code of ethics established by the college. This registration allows a veterinarian to dispense appropriate medication to their patients.

Those veterinarians who wish to provide x-ray services must register with the Health and Safety Executive, and must appoint a Radiation Protection Supervisor to ensure compliance with current practices and regulations. Additionally, the veterinarian must comply with current biohazard waste disposal regulations for clinical waste, disinfecting chemicals, and pharmaceutical waste.

Any office that maintains informational records on its customers must register with the Information Commissioner to ensure that privacy requirements regarding personal information are met.

As an employer, a veterinarian must develop a health and safety policy to govern office procedures. This policy protects both the employer and his employees as they perform their duties. In his capacity as an employer, a veterinarian must comply with all applicable employment regulations, including the Disability Discrimination Act. The office itself must be accessible to all clients regardless of ability.

Business Matters

Prior to opening an office, one should meet with a reputable business consultant to create a business plan. The business plan will include such items as the type of practice, its location, and the anticipated demand for veterinary services within the community. The business plan also addresses financial issues including the amount of start-up money required to open an office, the type of accounting system that will be used, the type of record-keeping system that will be used, and how payments will be handled. A comprehensive business plan also includes a marketing strategy, a cost analysis, a five-year plan, and a ten-year plan. All of this information is essential to obtain the financing required for this venture.

One should consider joining regional trade associations and chambers of commerce in order to maintain a current base of practical knowledge. Such associations include the British Equine Veterinary Association, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, and the Society of Practicing Veterinary Surgeons. National websites regarding regulatory matters include the Department for the Environment – Food and Rural Affairs, and the National Office of Animal Health.


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