VET’S DIARY: A day in the life of a veterinary student

Out and about with the equine team at Alnorthumbria.
Out and about with the equine team at Alnorthumbria.

As a vet student, part of our training involves seeing practice in the real world, so in a spare couple of weeks I came back home from university to spend a fortnight shadowing the vets at Fairmoor Equine Clinic.

I always enjoy coming here – the caseload is dynamic, there is always something interesting happening and the people are great!

My first morning was very exciting as we were off to perform an exercise ECG (something I had only read about)on a horse with a drop in performance.

Sarah and Lesley carefully attached the ECG leads and the transmitting device, and then horse and rider were away down the gallops. The data from the horse was wirelessly transmitted straight away to the laptop so we could read the ECG as the horse was in full flight – technology that is definitely more advanced than my old computer!

Student placements are a great way of seeing all aspects of veterinary practice. In between calls I had the opportunity to examine in-patients, practising measuring gut sounds, heart and respiratory rates, and also to help the nurses without getting in the way (or breaking the hose!)

Learning regular procedures is important for a potential new graduate and I had lots of opportunities to observe routine dentals, to help take radiographs and watch lameness workups.

Along with seeing cases within the hospital, I also spent a grand day out in the beautiful Northumbrian countryside on zone visits with Amie.

As a non-horse owner myself, I’ve found seeing horses in different set-ups really useful in understanding equine husbandry, as well as attempting to learn the lingo.

I was very lucky that in my fortnight here I was able to follow a variety of fascinating cases including an extremely rare event of a horse with a septic flexor tendon core lesion, and also to go into theatre to watch tie-back surgery on a young racehorse recently brought over from France – exciting stuff!

The working day doesn’t always finish when you expect and one evening Kate, the on-call vet, was called out to see a horse that had gone down in its field, sweating: Potentially colic.

It was dark by the time we arrived so navigating across a very muddy field presented an interesting challenge. Fortunately, the horse was able to stand up so Kate was able to perform a thorough examination and administer the necessary medication.

Owners reassured and the horse much more comfortable, we headed back to the practice.

My fortnight at Fairmoor Equine Clinic was over far too quickly, but in that time I was able to learn from the best, practise many new skills and gain a greater insight into the equine world. I hope to be back again.