Seeing Practice with PDSA

What is 'Seeing Practice'?

Seeing Practice is the term used when an undergraduate veterinary student accompanies a practicing qualified vet and receives on-service training. It’s also known as Extra-Mural Studies (EMS).      

Apply for a Seeing Practice Placement with PDSA if you are studying to become a vet or vet nurse, or if you are already enrolled on an animal care course. Seeing Practice with PDSA gives you a host of benefits.

See a wider variety of interesting cases than in most general practices. Our PDSA Pet Hospitals have an annual case load of over 2 million treatments. Because of the scope of our service and the range of pets we see, you can expect a broader experience than in most general practices.

Gain hands-on experience. At a PDSA Pet Hospital you won’t just be observing experienced vets in action.

Experienced veterinary students can expect to try their hand at minor operations, procedures and consulting. Our team are very welcoming and will be on hand to support you throughout your time with us.

Use the latest equipment. Our Pet hospitals, most of which are purpose built, use the latest equipment to be found in general practice (ECG, endoscopy, ultrasound, ASIF implants etc).   


  • MRCVS qualified vets and vet nurses: You can volunteer with PDSA if you are confident in practice. You will be helping with the case load, so you’ll need to hit the ground running. Please use our online MRCVS Application form to apply.

  • PDSA have many non-veterinary opportunities for volunteers: We are supported by a team of 4,500 volunteers, mainly in our shops, offices and fundraising groups and we would love you to join us. There are only a few volunteering roles which have contact with animals. This is because the pets we treat are cared for by our qualified vets and vet nurses in our PDSA Pet Hospitals. Occasionally we have vacancies in our Pet Hospitals, assisting the nursing staff, helping on reception or keeping the grounds tidy. Please see our current Pet Hospital vacancies for roles in your area.


When a hospital is in a position to offer a placement they will advertise the vacancy in the careers section under Seeing Practice. If you have not already done so, we recommend that you register your details and set an alert to notify you when a vacancy is advertised.


So what would I see as a student?

1000s of cases. Any PDSA Pet hospital can proudly say that it deals with more trauma and medical cases than the average private practice. It’s exciting, busy and you’ll never be bored. You’ll see a huge range of surgical and medical procedures, some that you may not see in private practice.

What would I get out of it?

Great experience. You’ll gain vital veterinary and nursing skills. You’ll also learn about vet teamwork. Each PDSA Pet Hospital has an average of six vets, seven nurses and eleven ancillary staff. You’ll also soon pick up how to relate to owners as you’ll be seeing thousands of sick and injured pets. This is a key skill for your future career, whether it’s with PDSA or elsewhere.

If PDSA only offer free treatments, are they only basic treatments?

No. PDSA Pet Hospitals are equipped to a high standard. We have ECGs, endoscopes, ultrasounds, ASIF equipment and much more. We see dogs, cats, rabbits and small furries including hamsters and guinea pigs. PDSA does not provide treatment for exotic species like iguanas, but we always provide life-saving care in an emergency for any species.

Does that mean you can do anything for any pet?

No. We do have certain restrictions. PDSA is a registered charity. So we must use our precious resources to their best effect: e.g. we don’t provide post-mortem examinations.

Does PDSA provide preventive treatment?

Yes. We offer neutering, vaccinations, flea and worm treatments and microchipping for an accessible charge at PDSA Pet Hospitals and PDSA Pet Practices for eligible owners.

So will I just sit around and watch?

No. Veterinary students often become involved in procedures, under close supervision, if the vet thinks you are capable. You may help with inpatient care, such as fluid administration and medical treatments. You could help in the theatre by being an extra pair of hands if appropriate.

Contact us if you any more questions about volunteering with PDSA or take a look at our current Seeing Practice vacancies