As many of you know over 4 years ago now I made the decision to go to vet school. I am now in year 2 (having dropped back a year due to COVID taking away childcare) and I am absolutely loving it! Sarah Sorgi very kindly took on the role of manager several years ago and has been running things amazingly! She has temporarily stepped back whilst COVID has put us in a lull (lets hope it's all over soon!) so I am back to running the ship for the time being!
This has naturally caused a bit of a decline with my blogging (apologies!) but I thought I'd break the quiet spell with a blog about some of the things I didn't know about vet school until I arrived there!
Firstly (and this is probably obviously to many, but it wasn't to me!) vet school is hard - really hard! Each day, 5 days a week, for 11 weeks a semester, 2 semesters a year, it feels like being under an information siege that you need to retain, assimilate and put into context with other information that is being bombarded at you, whilst also needing to read and keep up with your own independent learning at the same time. It is intense! I personally feel the reason vet schools have such high entry requirements is not that the content itself is difficult, but that the volume is incredible - so students have to be capable of keeping up with it all! I think there has been a real tendency to dumb down professionals such as vets in recent years, as information becomes more and more freely available and people do their own research. This research is invaluable because it is wonderful for owners to be informed on their pet's health and wellbeing, but equally it is worth remembering that researching something on google is very different to being taught content through a degree.
Also, along the way I have seen several friends on the course drop out, drop back or take time off and I know that some of them have had a hard time with disappointed family or friends. But the reality is that vet school is hard and a huge commitment - many of us struggle with anxiety in keeping up the pace. Until you are on the course, you have no idea what it is like and if you are not enjoying it - it's a long time and a lot of work if you've realised it's not for you! It's also not unusual for exams to be failed and need resitting, possibly repeating a year - this is not a bad thing, often these students have a much better grasp of the subject the second time round than the rest of us! So if you have a friend or family member that has failed an exam or dropped out of vet school, either temporarily or permanently, do be supportive! It's not a 'normal' degree - it's pretty tough!
Lastly (and these are just a few of the preconceptions I have had, I will write more as I have time) I was not aware until I joined that the rates of suicide in the veterinary profession are disproportionately high. There are a lot of issues here, it is a complex problem, but I cannot help but think that the general public attitude towards vet is quite poor. Vets are often accused of 'being in it for the money' or of 'not caring about pets' for various reasons including treatment charges - but the reality is that they are not a charity and cannot use their time, equipment and skills for free without either running at a loss, not having a salary or burning out. I have met a lot of people on the course, we have lots of differences, but one common goal, we love animals and want to help them. As I've started practical work experience I have been staggered by the costs that most practices have to cover, including:
- The vet surgeon's salary
- The salary of the receptionist who schedules client appointments
- The telephone line/broadband/email/website and utilities
- The building rent/mortgage and the business rates
- The salaries of the nurses
- The cost of buying and storing medication in the premises, ready to be prescribed immediately when needed.
- Professional memberships and CPD which have to be updated annually
- A student loan that for tuition alone will be around £46,250 for current vet graduates, let alone maintenance loan on top. Nurses will usually all have student loans too
- Equipment such as kennels and cages, operating table, scalpels etc etc
- 'Cheap' materials such as swabs and bandages, that are not cheap to buy in bulk
- Gas for anaesthetics.
- Pet food for clients staying in overnight
Each consultation fee has to stretch a long way - a lot longer than I ever considered before I started work experience!! So be kind to your vet, very few are 'in it for the money' most are doing a job they are incredibly passionate about, but they do need to pay the bills too!
So there you have it - my first blog in a year! I am hoping to write all about vet school as I know so many would find it interesting - many more posts to follow!