Advice from LINDA BELTON, equine partner of The George Veterinary Group

Choosing a career is often much easier for some than others. The decision to pursue a career as a veterinary surgeon is not an easy one, but one I think is well worthwhile.

So I'd like to give some pointers as to what you can do to try to decide if life as a vet might be for you - and hopefully this may be of interest to both school age children and their parents!

There are now more vets being trained in the UK than there have been for many years.

A new vet school at Nottingham University recently opened, in addition to those at the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and London.

All the schools require excellent A Level results for you to gain entry, coupled with a personal statement, showing evidence of your commitment to training and other achievements while at school.

Do not underestimate the value of these other achievements in helping you get an offer of a place at vet school.

Talents apparently unrelated to veterinary science often demonstrate skills or aptitudes that are very impressive to university selection panels.

One thing they will definitely be looking for is evidence of relevant work experience.

They will want to see that you understand what the job entails in reality rather than just via the TV programmes such as Supervets.

Work experience on farms, in boarding kennels and catteries, as well as in stables, is also useful.

Here at The George Veterinary Group, we receive literally hundreds of applications for work experience, and there is obviously a limit to the number we can take.

We only take one student at a time, to ensure they have a chance to see as much as possible, and that staff can spend some time with them, to explain what is going on.

It is not possible for then to actually have much hands-on contact with the animals. Looking after someone's much loved horse, cat or dog is a huge responsibility, especially when that animal is unwell.

Thus, the hands-on care must be left with the vets and nurses.

However, there is lots for you to observe, and if you are willing to muck in and help, there is lots you can do to assist behind the scenes.

The more you do to help, the more time the vets and nurses will have to help you!

It is often best to organise your own work experience in the school holidays rather than just relying on the school week.

This releases you from some of the constraints of the school-arranged schemes and increases your chances of finding a placement time.

If you are a serious candidate, you will want and need to do a considerable amount of work experience, and if using school holiday time is not for you, then probably neither is a veterinary career.

As a vet, the hours are variable and can be long. Night and weekend work is a feature of the job.

However, for me, being a vet is more than a job. It is a great way of life.

Enjoying going to work every day is priceless and I consider myself lucky.