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20 Apr 2021

SCHOOL’S IN: Vet student life in a post Covid-19 world

SCHOOL’S IN: Vet student life in a post Covid-19 world

As restrictions lift in the UK, many of us are starting to have somewhat of a sense of normality returning to social, professional and family life. However, the lasting impact of several lockdowns and extensive social distancing will be felt for years to come, and it’s easy to forget about the subsections of our community who were impacted the most. We sat down with a fourth year veterinary student Becky (University of Surrey, class of 2022) to talk about studying veterinary science amidst a pandemic, and the lasting impact it will have on the next generation of veterinary professionals. 

What made you decide to go into veterinary, and what do you want to do with it next?

I have always known that I wanted to go into veterinary and all through secondary school, whenever there was the chance to do work placements, I always did mine animal-related. Be that on a farm doing lambing and sneaking an orphan lamb into the house to warm by the Aga, or in my local veterinary clinic. I have always loved horses and they were a huge passion of mine growing up, however I have now decided that I would like to go into companion animals.

How did Covid-19 affect the way that you were taught? 

As soon as lockdown hit everything went online and all lectures were pre-recorded. Our course is so practical and hands on that for the first semester, everything felt up in the air. Practicals all moved to being online which in some cases this works well such as case studies and viewing x-rays or MRI’s but when it came to things such as dissections we did miss out on the experience. Essential practicals are now back but we do still miss out practicals where we would have had to go somewhere. We were meant to go to a neuter clinic at a charity practice, instead we did it in the lab on models. This has both positives and negatives. Being able to do this on a real animal would have given us so much experience and confidence going forward, but doing it in the lab on models meant that we were able to practice multiple times using different techniques on both dogs and cats.

Did not being able to take part in EMS have a big impact on your studies?

This has been really really tricky, there are some online EMS sessions that you can engage with, but with the purpose being to gain practical hands-on experience this just isn’t the same. Massive parts of EMS are doing the basic everyday tasks such as canulars or scrubbing in and these are things that when you graduate you will be expected to be a pro at as you have had all of this practical skills time. Some people have been lucky and got into a practice that will allow EMS to continue - which is actually perfect as now clients aren’t allowed into the surgery, you have the ability to ask the questions and learn directly from the vet rather than just observing. But these are few and far between.

Do you think there will be any positive changes that come out of this?

A massively positive change was the transition to ‘flip classroom sessions’. This gave us the ability to watch the session in our own time with a scheduled hour in small groups for Q&A. Doing this allows you to ask the questions and build that relationship with your lecturer so that you are able to get the most out of every session. Although it was difficult, a major learning from the pandemic was self discipline and making yourself get up, get out and participate in the lectures when there wasn’t such a set schedule - this is something that will be hugely beneficial going forward.

How are you feeling about the future?

The pandemic was a tricky time for everyone, with stress levels high for those qualified vets, but also those on the journey to being qualified. The mood in the industry has certainly picked up and people are now beginning to feel more positive and optimistic about the way forward. 

It is clear from speaking with Becky that although things have been difficult and out of the norm, there have also been benefits and positive things that have come to light and that will hopefully continue going forward.

Students are eligible for a discount, £75 + VAT. Call or email us to book your ticket. You can also volunteer to help out in our theatres for free entry. Email a.smith@closerstillmedia.com for more information.

For more support, check out the AVS website or the student section of VetLife.

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