Vets Abi McCarthy and Danny Frost, who have both been part of the Linnaeus Graduate Development Programme

One of the UK’s leading veterinary groups is reporting record numbers of applicants to join its two-year Graduate Development Programme (GDP).

Linnaeus, which is part of Mars Veterinary Health, has been welcoming applications from final year undergraduates and newly-qualified vets since January and has received nearly 200 expressions of interest.

While many of the positions are now filled, there are still vacancies across the Midlands in Birmingham, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Northamptonshire, as well as Sheffield and South Yorkshire. Applications close at the end of May.

The GDP offers one-to-one mentoring, alongside professional and clinical skills development in primary care practices across the UK.

Chloe Roberts, clinical and educational development manager at Linnaeus, said: “This fourth cohort of graduates is looking likely to be the biggest yet, which is testament to how successful the programme has become over recent years.

“We’ve received so many high-quality applications and look forward to welcoming many of them into our practices.

“There’s still time left for people to apply via our online portal, so we’d love to hear from any prospective candidates interested in roles in the Midlands and Yorkshire.”

Linnaeus delivers all clinical training in-house through its extensive network of specialists, referral clinicians, certificate holders and experienced primary care clinicians.

Graduates take part in 20 core educational days as part of their clinical and professional skills training, with access to an additional 10 CPD days to undertake training of their own choice over the course of the programme.

University of Nottingham graduate Danny Frost, 25, joined the programme straight from university. He took up a role as a veterinary surgeon at Park Veterinary Group in Leicestershire, one of the practices with a vacancy for the new intake.

His role involves working alongside experienced clinicians as part of the hospital vet rota with exposure to a wide variety of work, including emergency cases.

“I found out about the programme when I was looking for jobs and thought it would be a good place to start my career,” he said.

“Having spoken to Linnaeus, they gave me a list of practices which would help me develop my areas of interest – client communication, dentistry and hospital work.

“We offer 24-hour care at Park and this has helped me get involved in the more intensive cases. It is a very dynamic, rewarding environment.

“I have been able to develop my skills more quickly by working in a hospital and playing a role in helping the decision-making with the other vets.

“Regardless of COVID-19, the programme has put me in touch with a cohort who are in the same boat. Whether you’re meeting on Teams or face-to-face, you have people to chat to who have all been in the same situations as you.

“It has also led to a great amount of networking potential with certificate holders and specialists.”

Bristol University graduate Abigail McCarthy, 25, is a veterinary surgeon at Blacks Vets in Dudley, joining straight from graduation in June last year. Blacks is another of the practices with a vacancy for the 2021 cohort.

She is halfway through the Linnaeus programme and chose to join as she felt it would go beyond what she learnt at university, and had other new graduates all at the same stage of their careers.

She said: “I particularly liked the Linnaeus programme as it looked very well structured in terms of specific graduate days and also had a social element.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 has meant the events have been online rather than in person, decreasing the social side of it but, overall, the support from both peers and internally at the graduate programme has been great.

“The clinical days have been hugely helpful in recapping things we learnt at university. I’ve also found it much more relevant to do lectures and clinical graduate sessions after starting my job, compared to sitting in lectures at university. It has been very useful to see how I can improve my clinical practice for future cases.

“Overall, the level of support has been fantastic, both at the practice and within the programme, and it’s been a really good way of starting my career in vet medicine.”