Educating the Veterinary Students of Tomorrow

December 2018

First of all, Merry Christmas everybody and the best of best wishes for the upcoming 2019!!

I, like many vet students and vet school hopefuls, have spent the majority of my Christmas break learning the ropes in a local veterinary practice and have seen all sorts, from kidney injury to emergency C-sections to chocolate toxicity cases. My favourite thing about being in practice is you just never know who is going to walk through the consult room door!

Whether you’re in your pre-clinical years, your final years or are preparing to go to vet school, every day is a day for learning whilst in practice but how do you get the most out of a placement? I am by no means an expert but here is a list of my tips for a successful placement in a veterinary practice.

Learn how to ask questions

Questions are both your friend and your enemy! On one hand, you’ll never learn unless you ask and this is as true in a veterinary surgery as it is anywhere else, but at the same time the last thing a vet wants to be met with in a busy surgery are 20 questions after each consult! So be tactful and try to limit yourself to just a couple of well thought out questions per consult and you’re on track for a happy vet and student.

Turn up armed with a notebook and pen
In practice, you’ll see so so many different cases each and every day and it is virtually impossible to remember everything! I have found it so useful right through vet school and even before I applied to pack a pen, a notebook and use lunch times to jot down particularly interesting cases and important tips I learned each day!

Don’t be a ‘wall starer’
First of all, I’d better explain this phrase! This is a description the head nurse at my first work experience placement used for students who did little or nothing to help around the surgery - definitely not a desirable trait!! So when you’re shadowing a vet, don’t just mindlessly watch and listen, try to think like a vet and follow the thought process and the decision making process, this is the best way to learn and in turn will do you huge favours when you one day have to do what’s the vet is doing! How you spend your time when you’re not with a vet is equally important- be as keen with a mop and bucket as you are with a stethoscope. If you’re not frightened of getting your hands dirty and helping with the cleaning jobs around the practice, you will build a much better relationship with the professionals you’re shadowing and make yourself quite popular, especially with the nurses!

Remember there are Vet Nurses
Although I have already mentioned asking questions, it seems like a fairly obviously good idea to ask the vet questions and try to learn as much as possible, but it’s rarer that students think of asking the vet nurses so many questions! Chances are, the vet nurses in the practice will know infinitely more about anaesthesia, patient handling, recovery, and how to approach clients than you will know for a very long time and they will not mind answering your questions. Use their knowledge, it is absolutely priceless!

So hopefully I have shed some light on how to get the most out of your work experience placements- These four tips have proven to be invaluable for me personally! Other than that, enjoy your placements!

Vet Student Blog 6 - "Twelve days of Christmas aka EMS"