VET’S DIARY: Practice makes perfect for vets

A few years ago (OK, a bit more than that!), I was a veterinary student at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh, which of course was, and still is, the best of the vet schools, writes Steve Carragher.

As you can tell, vet school rivalry has always been a major factor for students and now there are even more vet schools competing for undergraduates.

There is certainly demand for new vet schools with new ones being established, such as Nottingham, and other vet schools in the planning phase.

The veterinary degree has always been well oversubscribed with hundreds of applicants for each university place, all requiring a predicted four A-Levels at A-star grade and a list of animal-related work experience as long as a giraffe’s neck to even hope to get a place.

Students are a welcome presence in our practice and we attempt to provide them with the practical skills required to become a vet.

In my student days I was mentored by a young Dom Plumley.

I will be eternally grateful for the time and patience he invested into turning an inept, hamfisted student in to a (slightly less so) qualified vet.

Currently we have three excellent vet students who are spending time in our farm, equine and small animal departments. Seeing practice (or extra-mural studies as it is now called) is an essential part of the training process for veterinary students as they cannot possibly be taught all the practical aspects of being a vet in the five-year degree course in a classroom.

Under direct supervision of the vet, our students get hands-on experience which is invaluable to their success as a practising vet.

Students do also come in handy in other ways.

For a busy farm vet they are particularly useful for opening farm gates, of which there are many in Northumberland.

One farm has several gates to open and close on the way up the track so a student is always in high demand when a call comes in to this farm.

A good sense of humour is also a requirement of a veterinary student as practical jokes at their expense are commonplace.

A particular favourite of mine is to tell the London vet students that they need their passport when we go into Scotland.

No doubt, the presence of students seeing practice in our surgeries will continue and I hope we can continue to provide them with that all-important practical experience, which is an essential part of their training to become a vet.