Saving lives every day

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 February, 2009, 12:00am

There may be no vet schools in Hong Kong, but that shouldn't stop you from pursuing a career which brings out the kindness in you

Requirements: A veterinarian has to be an animal lover who cares about the welfare of animals.

They need to enjoy what they are doing. They should also have good communication skills because some of their clients may be very worried about their sick pet.

A vet should be patient and caring while explaining the situation to pet owners.

Qualifications: To become a vet, you have to be good at science subjects, especially biology and chemistry. Students with good A-level results in those two subjects have a better chance of getting into vet schools.

There are no such schools in Hong Kong so students often go to Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand or Britain.

A veterinary programme lasts five years. During this period, students will be sent to work on farms and in stables, kennels and animal clinics in order to gain hands-on experience.

Average salary: The starting salary for a vet is around HK$25,000 to HK$35,000, with a lot of opportunities to move up. Vets can start their own business or become partners of their clinics.

Work prospects: A vet has to handle three main duties - consultation, hospital admissions and surgery.

During consultation, a vet has to make the correct diagnosis, prescribe drugs and explain the pet's condition to its owner. To offer an effective service, a vet needs to be familiar with various kinds of animals.

An animal may need surgery or hospital care depending on its condition. It is also the duty of the vet to monitor animals in hospital. Operations are usually performed by specialised vets.

The treatment of animals is fast improving. It is important for a vet to keep up with the latest treatment methods.

Long-term prospects: As a vet becomes more experienced, they can consider starting their own business. They can also choose to become a partner of the clinic where they are working.

Some vets choose to continue their studies to specialise in certain areas, such as ophthalmology, dermatology or surgery.

Others choose to work with animal welfare organisations and educate the public to be responsible pet owners and prevent cruelty to animals.

Where to apply: Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Hong Kong Jockey Club, private animal clinics, Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and companies that produce drugs or food for animals.

A day in the life of a vet

Like any normal hospital, most animal hospitals are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The normal working hours of a vet are from 9am to 7-8pm. Sometimes a vet is so busy they have no time for lunch. At other times, they have fewer clients so they can relax a bit.

Vets work five days a week but do not necessarily get Saturday or Sunday off.

In small clinics, vets may also need to work overnight shifts a few times a week. This can be very tiring.

Sometimes vets have to stay on call after regular office hours. If there is an emergency, they may need to come back to work even in the middle of the night.