PDSA Graduate Programme

At PDSA, we are investing in our future, so we want ambitious graduates like you to join us.

As the UK’s leading veterinary charity our unique graduate programme will stretch and support you. We provide around 2.7 million treatments every year to sick and injured pets and to continue this work, we need people with a business mind and a social heart who want to make a difference.

Our Graduate Programme is now open for applications.

Positions are available all over the UK, we are currently recruiting for Edinburgh, Newcastle, Liverpool (Huyton), Derby, Birmingham (Aston), London (Bow), London (Thamesmead), Gillingham and Cardiff.

Graduate Programme and Career Development at PDSA

At PDSA, we are looking for graduates who want to move our organisation forward. You’ll be able to show us your special mix of skills – not just academic achievements, but your experiences, opinions and values too.

Our one-year structured graduate programme enables you to put your day one knowledge and skills into practice straight away, promoting pet wellbeing and treating sick and injured pets whilst developing new skills on the job, whilst also having time off rota to reflect and focus on your development.

Feedback from our recent graduate vets, is that the support you get on the programme, gives you a really solid foundation on which you can build a rewarding long-term career and many graduates have chosen to stay with PDSA in permanent roles to do this.

Recruitment for the Graduate Vet Programme opens in March of each year with selection for the roles taking place in April; we do things this way so you’ll know that you have a role with us well before graduation as the programme itself starts in early September each year.

To make sure you don’t miss out create a profile with us and register for job alerts. Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to find out more about PDSA and register your interest by emailing us at joinus@pdsa.org.uk

Our Graduate Programme

Our aim is to provide you with a supportive environment for you to develop your clinical professional knowledge and skills whilst having responsibility for managing your own cases.

Support, Development, Responsibility……What does that look like on the PDSA Grad Vet Programme?


  • Our programme is structured around the RCVS PDP Year one competencies and we have a 100% success rate for grads completing their PDP during the programme, usually between 6 - 9 months after starting with us.
  • You will have a Clinical coach, an experienced Vet trained in being a coach, to help support you day to day.
  • Your Line Manager, a Senior Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Surgeon Team Leader, will give you regular feedback on how you are doing.
  • You will have a peer group of other graduates on the programme and you will meet up every 4-6 weeks, for workshops and CPD.
  • Clinical learning plans have been developed for key clinical areas, to direct your learning on development (off rota) days.


  • On the job learning is the main part of the programme. You will be working on the rota and treating your own cases, with the support of the whole Pet Hospital team if help is needed.
    You will work in clean and safe purpose built Pet Hospitals and use the latest equipment to be found in general practice.
  • You’ll see a high volume of cases so you’ll gain experience and skills in managing your own first-opinion cases quickly.
  • Approximately 70% of your clinical time will be consulting; this teaches you to be effective and efficient. You’ll be treating sick and injured pets, advising about pet wellbeing and delivering preventive services.
  • Approximately 30% of your clinical time is spent operating. Initially you’ll develop surgical skills in neutering and other basic procedures, then progress to more complex operations as your competence develops.
  • Off rota time. You will have one day per week ‘off rota’ to focus on your own development, including completing your RCVS PDP online. Half a day of this time is spent with your clinical coach, to have clinical discussions based on reflective learning and for coaching on clinical skills.
  • You’ll attend workshops, giving you the opportunity to discuss an area of clinical practice in relation to working at PDSA, such as Clinical Governance, introduction to orthopaedics, leadership and delivering great Client Service to name but a few!


You’ll work on rota at your base and up to two other Pet Hospitals seeing your own cases. It’s fast paced and busy, but don’t worry:

  • The number of consults and operations that you’ll be expected to complete will be phased over time.
  • You’ll always have the opportunity to discuss case management options with your clinical coach and other colleagues.
  • You’ll have the support of the whole Pet Hospital team, including qualified Veterinary Nurses and Veterinary Care Assistants.
  • Your working day will be structured with regular breaks.
  • You are not required to work out-of-hours in the graduate programme, but you can spend time working alongside colleagues out-of-hours work if you wish to develop your emergency skills.

What we are looking for at PDSA

At PDSA we aim to minimise the selection process stages – and maximise the quality of veterinary graduates. We wish to attract people who are passionate about pet wellbeing and who can either show experience of, or potential for the following values and organisational skills:

  • Head and Heart (Expertise with Understanding): Using your own initiative, learning to make effective decisions and building trusted relationships based on honesty, empathy and respect with the rest of your team and our clients. You will be an effective and confident communicator, understanding the unique service we provide.

  • Better Together (Empowering through Unity): Working effectively as part of a team to develop your knowledge and skills, share ideas and achievements and adapting your approach to meet the needs of others. Expect and give feedback to achieve greater results.

  • Passion with Purpose (Driven in our Dedication): Being dedicated to delivering both pet wellbeing advice to PDSA clients and treatments to their sick and injured pets. Using your knowledge and skills to get the best results for the pets and people we help, becoming an effective clinician.

  • Plan and Organise: Prioritise, plan and organise your activities to meet deadlines and deliver the desired results.

Please note: You will need a full UK driving license and be flexible to travel as you will be working in a number of regional PDSA Pet Hospitals.


I have applied for the Veterinary Surgeon Graduate Programme, will I receive a response?

Yes. After you apply via our careers website, we’ll email to let you know we have your application and when we’ve made a decision. You can log into your account to check your application status at any point.

If I am not successful, will I receive feedback?

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide feedback on unsuccessful Applications (Stage 2) due to very high volume of applications that we receive. We do provide feedback if requested to those candidates that have attended an Assessment Centre (Stage 3).

Do you pay expenses to candidates travelling to interviews/assessment centres?

No. Unfortunately we do not pay any travel; or other expenses, although we will pay for accommodation to cover the night before the Assessment if required.

Will I be required to travel during the programme?

Yes. During the graduate programme, you’ll need to travel regularly between PDSA Pet Hospitals and offices

Can I pick my base PDSA Pet Hospital?

We’ll ask for your preference in the application process and try our best to take this into account; however, we cannot guarantee this is where you’ll be offered if you’re successful.

What happens after the programme finishes?

During the second half of the Programme we encourage grads to, apply for any permanent or temporary vacancies within PDSA and we have a great track record of our grads choosing to do this and further their careers with PDSA.

Do you have any other graduate opportunities?

As part of PDSA Talent we will have other graduate opportunities that we will advertise as they become available.

Do you support work permits?

Yes. We support valid work permits but we do not sponsor them. You will need to have a right to work in the UK for the duration of the graduate programme.

I have a disability – will this affect my application?

PDSA is an equal opportunities employer and all applications are welcome. If you need us to make reasonable adjustments for you, please let us know as part of your application.

I have not graduated yet, so how can I tell you my degree classification?

Please indicate your expected degree result.

If my application is successful, when would I start?

We are looking for successful graduates to start in September 2017

Can I defer my start date?

No. Unfortunately we cannot accept deferred applications. If you are looking to have a gap year, we would be pleased to receive an application from you when you are ready to start with us.

If I am a postgraduate or already have work experience, am I still eligible to apply?

Yes. We would be delighted to receive an application from you if you have graduated in recent years. We do not have an age limit. However, the Veterinary Surgeon Graduate Programme best suits graduates with under 18 months’ relevant experience.

Does the London position have a weighting payment?

Yes. Should you secure a position at a London PDSA Pet Hospital within the M25, you’ll be entitled to receive a London weighting allowance in addition to your salary.

How do I contact HR?

Call: 01952 290999

Email: joinus@pdsa.org.uk

Matthew Forshaw – Senior Veterinary Surgeon at Huyton Pet Hospital

I'm Matt, the senior veterinary surgeon at Huyton Pet Hospital in Liverpool. I joined PDSA in 2009 as a new graduate from the University of Edinburgh. In the hope of not showing my age, the new graduate scheme didn't exist at that point. However I was immersed into a very supportive environment at PDSA Pet Hospital Kirkdale where I was able to develop my skills as a veterinary surgeon tackling a pyometra in my first week and having time for one to ones with the senior vet to allow time to reflect on the cases I'd seen in order to help me complete my PDP in good time.

Since my first year in practice, PDSA has provided so much support and professional development. I have since gained post-graduate certificates in advanced veterinary practice and veterinary business management and am currently working towards a post-graduate masters in veterinary professional studies.

PDSA has also helped me to progress as a leader. I was appointed as a Team Leader in 2014, helping to manage and lead the veterinary surgeon team at Kirkdale. In November 2014 I was seconded to Margate to help to launch PDSAs new clinic, as Lead Veterinary Surgeon, where we saw concessionary clients for the first time since changing our charitable objects. Now I am the senior veterinary surgeon at Huyton where I and my fellow managers lead a team of about 45 in a busy hospital seeing a whole host of cases, as well as providing education and preventive treatment to our clients and their pets.

We provide a supportive and caring environment for all of our team. I have been involved in training and supporting three cohorts of new graduates and am very fortunate to work with Hayley McKenzie who took part in the new graduate scheme in 2013. I cannot recommend both the new graduate scheme and PDSA enough – come and join us!

Tom Underwood – Senior Veterinary Surgeon at Glasgow East Pet Hospital

I’ve been working for the PDSA since graduating from the University of Glasgow in 2013. I was part of the new graduate scheme started that year and worked between Glasgow East, Glasgow Shamrock Street and Edinburgh Pet Hospitals.

The scheme provided a fantastic opportunity to develop my clinical and professional skills, drawing on experience from lots of different members of staff across different sites – all with different things to teach me. I was appointed a clinical coach to help develop specific areas I wanted to, and had regular scheduled catch-ups which allowed me to complete my PDP within 9 months. The cohort structure of the programme meant I had regular meetings with other new graduates placed in hospitals all over the UK to discuss issues we were having, which was great to have contacts that were going through exactly the same things as you were! I achieved far more than I thought I would in my first year in practice, and with the high case load, and large opportunity for surgery, I was performing ops I never thought I would in my first 12 months.

I was then offered a permanent post as a Veterinary Surgeon within the hospital and further developed my surgical skills, focussing more on orthopaedics and specifically fracture repair.

Recently I took on the role of Veterinary Surgeon Team Leader, and now Senior Veterinary Surgeon at Glasgow East, and I am currently halfway through the BSAVA Postgraduate Surgical Certificate.

I cannot recommend the new graduate programme at the PDSA highly enough, the start it gave me in my career and the opportunities to progress so quickly allowed me to easily find what I was interested in and develop my abilities in that field. I never thought that in less that 4 years I would be running a hospital, but since starting here I haven’t even thought about working anywhere else!

Emily Bligh - Veterinary Surgeon at the Bow and Ilford PDSA branch

My name is Emily and I am a Veterinary Surgeon at the Bow and Ilford PDSA branch. I initially started working at Bow on the Graduate Veterinary scheme. The graduate scheme provided me with a structured and supportive environment to start my career. My rota time was split between consulting and operating with one day a week off rota with my designated clinical coach to develop my skills however I wished. This could range from scrubbing in on surgeries, looking through radiographs or spending time on my PDP.

Working at the PDSA is very full on- no day is the same and the caseload is very varied. This means, on the graduate scheme, you develop a wide range of skills- not just surgery! Having said that, the amount of surgery you get to do is unparalleled- from neutering to orthopedics. You have to be prepared to work hard and be busy in the day- there is rarely time to be bored but the PDSA is well structured and, on the whole, you finish on time and get to enjoy a great work/life balance.

I have never felt unsupported during my time at the PDSA- through having a clinical coach, a great team and a supportive management system. The PDSA are invested in your clinical development so the learning continues, even after the graduate scheme finishes. I love working for the PDSA and credit that to the start I had on the Graduate Veterinary Scheme.

Amélie Thickitt- Veterinary Surgeon Team Leader at Liverpool Kirkdale. Jeanne Marchig Centre

I have been working at PDSA for 3 and half years since I graduated from Nottingham Vet School

In my first year I completed the graduate program. I spent my time between Liverpool Kirkdale and Liverpool Huyton and Manchester hospitals. Liverpool Kirkdale was my base centre and this is where my clinical coach was.

4 and a half days of my week were spent doing clinical work, on the same rota as the other vets but in the beginning my diary was rota’d down so I didn’t get overwhelmed. I was given the same time in theatre as any other vet and given the freedom to progress at my own pace, with plenty of opportunity to learn and carry out new procedures. My clinical coach spent the half day every week with me discussing any cases I had during the week and helping with any worries I had. It also gave me time to complete my pdp

Every few months I met up for a day with the other graduates on the program and we had a teaching day (for example on pragmatic case management) this was an excellent chance to share and de-breif with people in the same position as myself.

The graduate program was an excellent way for me to learn quickly and thoroughly a wide range of medical and clinical skills with that little bit of extra support when I needed it. I still felt totally included in the team.

I enjoyed my time on the graduate program so much that I applied for and successfully got a permanent position as a full time vet at Liverpool Kirkdale.

Since December I have been Veterinary Surgeon Team leader. This is a great position because I get to continue my clinical work which I love but am also learning new skills in management.

I love working for PDSA, I get to treat the pets of people who need our help. We have busy days, the case load is so interesting and varied and the team atmosphere is great. All this coupled with fantastic work life balance.