This summer I finally became a fully-qualified vet as I graduated from the Royal Veterinary College. What I had not expected was that throughout my final year of clinical rotations I would be followed by a film crew for a new TV series called Young Vets (starting on BBC2 on the 19th August)!
A lot of vet students you meet say how they knew they wanted to be a vet from when they were really young. I'm something of an oddity in that I decided to follow this career path quite late on in the day.
It was during my time studying zoology at Durham University that I decided this was the career for me. I realised not every zoology student can become David Attenborough and when a friend suggested veterinary medicine it was the light bulb moment! A career as a vet would allow me to pursue my love of science, animals and people as well as giving me the opportunity to work outdoors. I have a lot to thank that friend for!
Applying to vet school is a bit different than applying for any other course because you can only choose four universities - and there are only seven places to choose from in the first place. The RVC was always my first choice of institution for a number of reasons. It offered the accelerated course I was after, allowing me to combine the first two preclinical years into one year taking into account my zoology degree. Its central London location was also a great draw, enabling me to enjoy the amazing city whilst living close to friends and family. I also heard that the course at the RVC was very practical which appealed greatly as I learn best by doing.
Studying to become a vet has been a varied and exciting - if challenging - experience. I was prepared for the sometimes long hours of lectures and private study, however I was pleasantly surprised at the extent of practical learning throughout the course. This ranged from dissection and animal handling practicals in the first years, to a whole year of purely hands on learning during rotations in my final year (all captured on camera for the BBC!).
I have most enjoyed the time I spent out in practices, learning from some wonderful vets how best to excel at this profession. Through seeing practice, I have enjoyed getting to know and work with different vet and nurse teams, learning from them not only the practicalities of being a vet, but also how to build strong client and animal relationships. I was especially lucky to spend some time at a farm practice out in New Zealand. This was an amazing opportunity to learn about a different farming system to that in the UK, and how the veterinary profession there has adapted around this.
Now that I have graduated I am presented with the decision of what I want to do with the rest of my career - I am somewhat of a typical vet grad as I can't quite make my mind up as to the type of animals I hope to work with! A job in a mixed practice would be therefore be the dream as I loved the variety of work I have experienced whilst spending time at mixed practices.
It has been my experience that the majority of people wanting to become a vet are passionate and hard working; these are the best qualities that will support you through vet school. To people thinking about becoming a vet I would only say, come into this degree with your eyes open. Have a full, rounded knowledge of the career you are about to embark on - go and see practice, spend time at farms, stables and kennels, chat to a range of current vets.
There are going to be tricky times during your time on the course, not to mention when you're out there working, so try to make absolutely sure this is for you. For me, making the decision to become a vet at the age of 21 meant I was just about mature enough to make an informed decision. I also cannot highlight enough the importance of keeping a healthy work life balance - studying to be a vet takes up a good few years of your young life and I've always thought it's so important to enjoy those years as much as possible!