Dr Dolittle’s Apprentice

Where to begin! I have completed my placement at the abattoir and recently qualified as an events first aider with the wonderful St. John Ambulance. Despite being on two ends of the spectrum; pre-hospital care and ante-mortems may differ in their outcome, but they are both essential roles in the medical and veterinary fields. Also, having received my exam results I am delighted with my 2:1 – bring on the dissertation and my third and final year as a bio-vet before the big 5 for vet med.

This blog is all about HOW to get work experience, not just prospective vets and why first impressions really count.

Firstly, I need your help! With my super sprint triathlon a matter of weeks away (July 21st), I need your support! PLEASE share my blog, sponsor my cause or message me and say I’m crazy. 50% of my sponsors will be saved up for my £45,000 uni fees and the other 50% will be going to Macmillan for their brilliant cancer patient support. For more info follow this link: http://medblog.medlink-uk.net/evie/sprint-triathlon/ or sponsor me via PayPal or my Just Giving fundraising page. Thanks in advance.

As promised in ‘The spice of life’, here are my top tips on how to get your hands dirty:

All vet applications require a minimum of 4 weeks work experience across a range of fields within an 18-36 month period. Lucky for me that meant revisiting my placements to ‘update’ them. Each vet school has different requirements, but these change from year to year. Most recently I have completed; abattoir, dairy, lambing, stables, mixed animal vets and cattery. Unfortunately, my kennels, zoo and small animal vet placements will be out of date by the time I apply in October. So many placements and so little time. I spent my Christmas holidays at the stables, my Easter holidays are dedicated to lambing and I’ve spent half my Summer holidays milking and at the vets, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Most placements are sadly unpaid… but I did receive small gifts for my work having returned, using the skills I learnt previously to be of good help.

So you can walk the walk, but can you talk the talk?

Whether you email, ring or enquire in person, being concise and showing good manners is essential. Vets and farms are busy places and practicing what you want to get across could be the difference between getting your wellies on or being escorted out by the sheepdog. Trying to sound enthusiastic may sound simple if you love animals but it’s not always clear-cut. I don’t know anyone who’s keen to visit an abattoir… Printing of a C.V or references not only looks professional, but it’s a chance to show your face and meet the team you want to work with. With talking comes listening, especially to show empathy and relay information appropriately as vets use these skills every day to calm stressed clients and deliver bad news.

There’s no I in team but there is in independent.

You may be helping with menial tasks to begin with, but don’t be disheartened. Showing you can follow simple instructions is the first step for progression. I love feeling useful and being reliable. I’m not afraid of asking for help either. Being trustworthy and honest is important to avoid troubles with insurance. There’s always ‘fake it till you make it’ but I wouldn’t rely on this for showing your resourcefulness. I like to keep busy but sometimes there’s nothing for me to do so I often say things like “I don’t know how to do … but if you show me I will know for next time”. Being keen to learn and using the old, common sense is vital. You’d be amazed how valued you can be to someone as a spare pair of hands, literally.

As you age patience becomes less of a virtue and more of a luxury.

Not all work experience is hands-on, there’s a lot of watching and learning. The countless times the vet has repeated, ‘Hi, this is Evie, she is seeing practice with us today’, as I stand observantly in the corner of the room. With time (and age for some placements), you can transfer skills. Not all placements have the same protocols, particularly farm visits, so it’s good to get a variety. If you are really struggling for work experience you can always go on VetMedlink or Vetsim courses. For a small price, I would highly recommend as you get to experience uni halls and tick off Gold DofE residential. Being patient with animals (donkeys in particular) is something no farmer or vet can teach you. Suckling animals can be ever so testing and herding them can bring out some choice words, even those we trust can react to flight or fight situations. We had a dog that was bearing its teeth, cowering in the back of the kennel. We had to don the oven gloves and stroke under its chin until it trusted us to put its lead on, we got there eventually. If anyone knows patience best it’s me, two years down, six to go…

Sometimes it’s not what you know it’s who you know. Ask your friends and family, older vet students, your local vet practice. Someone out there needs your help they just don’t know it. I was once recruited at a friends BBQ by two very enthusiastic shepherds with some very interesting dance moves too…
Make sure to ask for references (if you don’t ask you don’t get). All applications need evidence of your work so always make a good impression. Be punctual and prepared whatever the weather, especially in this heat wave!

After waitressing at a wedding this weekend, a very rude man wasn’t helpful in the slightest. Afterwards, we reluctantly offered him some left-over food, he was so apologetic for being rude to me before. I guess that’s the effect pulled pork has on some people. But still, manners cost nothing and first impressions really do count.

Now that my car is fixed (shout out to my roadside recovery team), it’s time to get dirty and sweaty, on the farm and on my bike. Big loves, Evie xx

Some animals don’t always trust us…

Others just take the mickey!The dog that joined our committee meeting
Our cat who sleeps in my bed more than me

3 thoughts on “Dr Dolittle’s Apprentice

  1. Love the blog, glad to be your roadside recovery support team! Lovely reading but I agree you are crazy doing a triathlon! But very fit to do one! Very proud of all you do. A lovely person inside and out! love you lots. Aunty Pinky xx

  2. Pingback: Trust me I’m a dogtor | The Wannabe Vet

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