New Grad Luke’s career is off to a flying start

New Grad Luke’s career is off to a flying start

VETPARTNERS has four graduate programmes – small animal, equine, farm, and mixed practice which we’ve developed to give newly qualified vets the best possible start to their career in practice.

 The programmes are designed to build upon the knowledge and skills learnt at university and to help bridge the gap from being a student to a working professional.

 Whether they’re in their first small animal, equine, farm or mixed practice role after graduating, our graduate vets are a talented and skilled bunch!

 Here, Luke Harris, vet at Woodcroft Vets in Heaton Moor, Stockport, reveals how the VetPartners Small Animal Graduate Programme has given his career a flying start…


How did you secure your first veterinary role?

After leaving university I knew I wanted to continue to grow my skills as a veterinary surgeon and I was excited to find my first role in practice. A friend recommended me to Woodcroft Vets which was recruiting for a new graduate vet, so I applied and thought the support offered via the graduate programme would really help me develop my skills after leaving university and would be the perfect start to my career.

I also felt reassured starting at a practice where I had a personal recommendation from a friend as it made it feel slightly less daunting and I knew I was going to work somewhere with a good reputation.


How does the graduate programme help new vets find their feet in the profession?

We have monthly CPD sessions which have provided plenty of opportunities to meet others at the same stage in their career as me. I’ve met many new friends through the CPD sessions that I now meet up with outside of training for social gatherings.

Meeting other graduates has definitely helped my confidence. It’s great to talk about the different experiences we’ve had so far and share how we’ve dealt with different cases in practice.

Talking with the other graduates also reminds you that you’re all in the same boat and that it’s okay to make mistakes as it’s all part of the learning process for us to grow as vets. It’s sometimes really easy to beat yourself up about these mistakes that everyone makes, but sharing the experiences takes a weight off your shoulders.


How much support do you receive on the new graduate programme?

The support network is fantastic. I have an assigned graduate development programme mentor who is a great teacher, and we also meet up once a month to discuss cases, answer any questions I have, and track my progress and areas for improvement.

The other vets at Woodcroft are also great and always happy to offer advice, whether it’s at the site I’m working at or over the phone at one of our other branches, and I feel very lucky to have such an amazing team of nurses around me because they make my day so much easier, and I think I’d be lost without them.

Woodcroft has been very flexible in terms of the amount of support I have during my shifts, as I’ve grown in confidence, there’s scope for me to be as independent as I want, whilst still getting help with things when I need it.

I’ve always felt comfortable to ask for support whenever I wanted to and have never been put in any situations where I felt like I was completely alone, and I think this has played a key part in building my confidence as a practitioner.

What was the learning experience like?

Aside from what I’m learning first-hand during my shifts and from my colleagues at the practice, there are monthly organised CPD sessions with other new graduates from VetPartners’ small animal practices.

The graduate programme has covered a large range of topics which has helped to increase my knowledge in certain areas I was less confident in.

Some of the more notable ones are exotics, canine medicine, feline medicine, as well as communication and cases on a budget.

I found learning as a group in the sessions useful because you come up with such varied answers and it’s interesting to learn how other people may approach a case. These sessions have mostly been in-person, with a couple being held online and are always with the same group of graduates so it’s nice to see familiar faces.

I have also attended some online clinical interest group meetings which I find interesting, and I always try to attend these when I can. Woodcroft have also organised multiple in-house CPD sessions on topics such as dentistry and emergency and critical care medicine, which have also definitely helped me brush up on certain areas that I am less confident in.


How are you finding life in practice after graduating?

Life as a vet is hard work, but it’s a very fulfilling role. The graduate programme has made sure that starting work wasn’t too much of a shock to the system and I’m glad that I’m a part of it.

Woodcroft is also such a great place to work. My team are amazing and very supportive, and I’ve progressed so much in the last year thanks to all of their help. I’m very happy with my job and I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

Would you recommend the VetPartners Small Animal Graduate Programme to others?


The programme is a great opportunity to have a supportive start to your career and not be pushed in at the deep end. There is a lot of opportunity for developing your skills and meeting other new graduates who are in the same situation as you. Having the support network from my assigned graduate mentor, other graduates as well as my practice team has been invaluable in growing my confidence as a newly qualified vet.


  • Luke graduated from the University of Nottingham in July 2022 where he studied Veterinary Medicine before joining the graduate programme in September 2022 alongside his new role at Woodcroft Vets. He is currently in his second and final year of the small animal graduate programme.


Are you interested in taking part in the VetPartners Small Animal Graduate Programme in 2024?

Details of all of our graduate programmes and how to register can be found here: 

For an informal chat about the programmes, email


Article written by Rachel Neill, VetPartners PR & Communications Executive.