Important to ‘see practice’ before deciding to become a vet
Students. There is a very important part of any veterinarian’s work which involves passing on knowledge to the next generation.
The way the training works to become a vet is that you spend a lot of time at university, and in the holidays you go to “see practice” at local veterinary hospitals in the hope that you will be given the practical knowledge to prepare you for your first day as a working vet.
You cannot possibly learn all you need from the books and those valuable nuggets of information gleaned from a battle-worn, grey-haired vet can really help you out.
The nurses too are wonderful practical resources and often times more approachable to youngsters who feel a bit out of place in a busy clinic.
At CedarTree Vets there is rarely a day during the school holidays where we don’t have at least one bright-eyed young wannabe vet or nurse hanging off our every word, and for the most part they are a pleasure to get to know and teach.
It never ceases to amaze me how many great questions we get and you can really tell the students who are right for this career path from very early on.
I, myself, decided I wanted to be a vet at ten years old and vividly remember seeing practice with my local vet and just soaking in all he had to tell me.
It is vital that youngsters thinking of this career path go and “see practice” to find out if veterinary medicine is really for them.
We have seen all sorts of reactions from our keen young scholars to what we do daily.
The sight of blood can be a good benchmark for their future career choice. Several students have fainted whilst watching a cat spay or other routine surgery, so much so that we now pre-empt them with an “if you feel faint” chat before we start.
Many of them gag and wretch as the dog vomits over their shoes, or has a bloody diarrhoea across the floor. Some of the smells in a vet practice can be very overwhelming and it takes a certain type of person to stomach it daily.
We recently had a lovely student who found out that she was completely allergic to cats whilst in a consult with a lovely, fluffy feline.
Her eyes swelled up and tears streamed down her face, poor thing, and she had to leave the room. This is a good lesson to learn before you embark on a five-year university degree.
We had one student, we will call him “Sleepy”, who had obviously been burning the candle at both ends and fell asleep in the truck in between consults. We left him to catch up on some shut eye and carried on with our appointments. It’s best to get a good night’s rest before “seeing practice” as the days are fast-paced and physical, to say the least.
Many students who get past the first visit to the inner working of a vet practice, return to “see practice” throughout their school and university years and we really get to know them.
It’s a pleasure to watch them develop from wide-eyed students to mature and capable adults. Our own Dr Erin Jackson came to “see practice” when she was a young girl and I was the budding young vet keen to teach her.
Who knew that all these years later we would be colleagues and I would watch her teach the next generation of bright young vets? It’s like watching my career go full circle and, whilst making me feel a little battle-worn and grey-haired, also makes me very proud.
• Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband, Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda