Being a vet student is one of the most intense degrees

I am a third year vet student at the University of Edinburgh who has spent the summer working on reception with the Alnwick team at Alnorthumbria Veterinary Group, writes Charlotte Miller.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 6:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th October 2019, 7:09 pm
Alnorthumbria Veterinary Practice in Alnwick.
Alnorthumbria Veterinary Practice in Alnwick.

Most of you have probably heard how much commitment the veterinary degree demands. It is certainly one of the most intense degrees to pursue in terms of contact hours, self-directed learning and practical skills.

Three-month long summer holidays? Forget about them! Placements on farms, kennels and veterinary practices are mandatory; students have to have completed a minimum of 38 weeks of unpaid voluntary extra mural studies by the time they graduate.

This means that even when university term has finished students are out working and constantly learning.

Having spent the summer devoted to reception and administration, what goes on behind the scenes at a vet practice has certainly been enlightening.

While my friends’ summers have been spent practising clinical skills and enjoying last minute holidays before the upcoming clinical years, I have been interacting with clients, booking appointments and managing endless streams of paperwork.

Receptionists are with out a doubt the champions of multitasking. They mediate between client and vet, coordinate multiple consults, operations and emergencies, then when all that’s said and done they are often left with the unsavoury task of asking for payment.

Naïve as it sounds, nothing in my vet degree had, or will, prepare me for the sheer amount of work it takes to keep a practice operating, and not in the surgical sense.

Receptionists are the doormen of the practice, they’re the first and last ones you see or speak to. Whilst they’re busy multitasking they’re also making an effort to put you and your pets care as priority.

Clients and pets can be with us for years, combining this with a caring nature and love of animals means it can often be very emotional for all of us involved.

Aside from the benefit of cash to support my studies, working full-time has also given me a true insight into my future job requirements.

I have yet to see a vet or nurse leave the practice on time, this is a lifestyle, not a job, despite what the work contract states.

I am extremely grateful for everything I have learned during this time and incredibly proud of the work everyone, as a team, achieves.

I cannot wait to come back again for clinical EMS and hopefully when I graduate in the near future I’ll still be able to appreciate the receptionists who have always been there to support me.