Graduate Programme case studies

Hear what some of our Vets had to say about the scheme:


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.