On 6th February 2012 I went to Kingsnorth Veterinary Centre to do work experience for one week. I hoped to be able to gain valuable experience and learn what it takes to be a vet and what their daily routine in the surgery is like. I was especially looking forward to watching operations because I felt this would be the hardest thing to over come when becoming a vet. I knew that it would be hard for to do much because of the health and safety surrounding my placement however I hoped to be able to assist in jobs such as holding animals.
When doing my work experience I hoped to learn what skills are needed to become a vet and to find out what it is like to work as a vet. I hoped to be able to so this through observation and asking questions when watching things being done. I also wanted to improve my self-confidence by being able to pursue tasks with confidence and authority, using my initiative to adapt to the environment surrounding me and therefore having assertion to ask questions and develop my learning. Furthermore I wanted to learn more about animals, building up my interest in them and taking away valuable knowledge that I could use in the future when encountering other animals. Finally I hoped to be able to develop my communication skills through interacting with clients and other employees. I wanted to be able to make useful contacts for further work experience and volunteering as I knew how important this is when applying to a veterinary course at university.
Throughout my placement at the vets, I interviewed three people: a veterinary surgeon, a veterinary nurse and my dad who is a chief engineer. From doing these interviews I learnt how important it is that different skills are needed within different jobs. I also found out that the people around you, both clients and colleagues are important in how your job evolves. This is especially clear within veterinary surgery when the clients can affect how the animal is treated. I now know about Continued Professional Development which is needed as further training to be a vet. It is important to gain extra training in the areas of work that I interviewed because of the times which are constantly changing in medicine and engineering as new products and discoveries are being made.
During my week of work experience I really enjoyed myself, however unfortunately the practise was very quiet due to the snow. I found this good to start with because it gave me a chance to get used to my surroundings. On the first day I watched some consults as well as a castration of a cat. Most of the consults consisted of check ups and vaccinations showing me the basics of what vets experience however I was able to see how every case was different because of the animals and owners. I was allowed to listen to a collie’s heart during one of these which I loved because I was able to compare it to other dogs when I listened to their hearts later in the week. I heard the heart much clearer and louder in the bigger dogs’ hearts because of their large chests which help to amplify the sound. I also observed different kinds of vaccinations which I saw were needed in different cases. For example all kittens need the same three vaccinations however only some dogs are given the kennel cough vaccination if they stay in kennels or are often around lots of other dogs because kennel cough is very infectious. It was also interesting to see the different ways in which the vaccinations can be administered. Most are injections whilst kennel cough is given through the nose. The most exciting case of the first day was aChihuahuawhich had been trodden on. It was given three X-rays all of different positions which the vet showed and explained to me, revealing three fractured ribs causing the dog to have difficulty when breathing. All that could be done for it was to administer pain killer and allow it time to rest.
On the second day I spent most of the day observing consultations. I found it most interesting seeing the different animals and their conditions as well as their owners. I realised how hard it can be to make a diagnosis and that often tests have to be done for confirmation. This was also the first day I saw an animal being put down. It was a very old cat and the owners had decided that the kindest thing for it would be euthanasia. I realised that this is often one of the hardest things that vets have to deal with, however I saw that it was the only option and definitely the most kind. When watching it I thought that if it had been a human it would have been kept alive and suffering because of the current laws on euthanasia.
My third day at the vets was really enjoyable; this was mainly because of the two operations I watched. One was a cat spay and one was a bitch spay, both of which I found really interesting as well as fascinating to watch. I was especially proud of myself because I was told that I might pass out but I didn’t even feel faint! I saw the precision needed when stitching and how mistakes can be fatal. I observed how the different instruments had different purposes such as clamps. I loved being told what was happening and I learnt so much. The bitch spay was really good to watch because although it is a standard procedure, it can be very tricky because of the deep positioning of the uterus within the dog. The amount of blood lost also really interested me because I thought there would be much more than there was. However I was told that when an animal is in season there are many more blood vessels so therefore bitch spays have to be carried out three months after the dog is in season to avoid dangerous levels of blood loss. I saw how important it is to keep the conditions in the theatre clean and sterilised and the equipment was not touched unless the vet was wearing his gloves. Furthermore, when I mopped, the theatre had to be done first with clean water. I was also shown two X-rays which I really enjoyed deciphering to show heart failure and lung cancer. It was remarkable to see the anatomical similarities the two such different dogs had. Unfortunately the dog with lung cancer had to be put down as cancer is just as big a problem in animals as it is humans.
The fourth day I did a variety of things which I really enjoyed. I began by observing consults. We were all given a shock when an elderly man collapsed in the first one of the day. It was terrifying for me to watch, but action was taken immediately and an ambulance was called. I acted as messenger fetching nurses and blankets as the instructions were shouted at me. We did not know how serious it was and by observing the vet who took charge I saw how important it is to stay calm with all patients, both humans and animals. Afterwards the vet told me he had thought the man was going to die but luckily later that day we were told the man was back at home. After some more consults, including the issue of a pet passport, I watched part of a bitch spay which I found really interesting to compare and reflect on the one I watched the day before. Also I was shown an ultrasound of a cat’s heart which was brilliant and helped me to develop my knowledge. Unfortunately the cat was very fat so the picture wasn’t very clear, however the ultrasound showed it to be otherwise healthy. In the afternoon, I was shown how to examine an animal using the nurses’ dogs. I practised using the stethoscopes, found a pulse and looked at the dogs’ teeth and ears. I really enjoyed this and looked forward to using the knowledge I learnt to practise o my own dog.
On the final day I observed some really interesting cases. A cat had been retching so the vet looked down its throat using a bronchoscope. I was shown that there was a piece of grass trapped by the soft palette. They used an instrument with a grabber on the end and eventually managed to capture the blade of grass and remove it. It was amazing to see the time and effort put into making the cat better as well as the teamwork and the communication between the vet and the nurse which was so important in making a successful case. I also watched a cat castrate as well as an examination of a throat mass in a dog. Unfortunately the dog was too ill and had to be put down, however I was able to listen to its heart and compare it to a conscious dog’s as well as listen to an empty chest. It was very sad but I realise after reflection from Tuesday that it was necessary and the best thing to be done. I observed a dental on a cat and was able to compare the procedure and the equipment used to a human dental practise. Furthermore, I sat cleaned out some kennels and watched some consults. I sat with an ill cat and encouraged it to eat. This gave me an insight into the different temperaments animals can have and their relationships with humans.
After my work experience I was able to reflect on the targets I achieved and the skills I developed. Through observing the vets and nurses I was able to find out what skills are needed to become one and what it is like to work as one. I realise how important good communication is and that handling animals in the correct way is also very significant. The teamwork I saw throughout the practise was inspiring and I realise that this is something I can develop throughout everyday life. I wanted to improve my self-confidence and although I realise for a lot of the week I was very quiet, I think towards the end I was more confident and developed my communication as well as teamwork skills including overcoming some difficult hurdles. I talked to the head nurse about this as well and she encouraged be to become more secure with my surroundings and be more outgoing when around other people. I learnt about animals and although not all of it I understood thoroughly I hope to do more research into it and develop my knowledge further.
Throughout my week of work experience I have learnt so much. Although most of it consisted of observations, this gave me a chance to see what it is like to be a vet without being put under pressure. The people who worked there were really nice to me and supported me as I learnt more and more about animals. By talking to the vets, I have also found out more about universities and many tips in succeeding in becoming a vet. However, the overall week was very quiet so I was often left with nothing to do or given jobs such as mopping and cleaning. But when reflecting on this I was able to see the basics of what vets do such as neutering and vaccinations which form a large amount of a vet’s job. I am also now more determined to succeed in getting a good job and avoid spending my life cleaning! Thank you to everyone at Kingsnorth vets, I had a brilliant time!