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    Getting work experience in a vets

    blog,

    It’s exam season right now for many… But for those in school or college and not taking exams, this usually the season for the wonderful ‘work experience’ week. Despite not being in school, this is still a factor in my life as vet clinics are popular places for people to come and have work experience.

    This all sounds lovely, but work experience in vet clinics is quite hard to get (as I’m sure some of you know). With this blog, I’m intending to break down some of the issues that can make it hard to get a veterinary work experience placement, how to maximise your chances, and what alternatives there are.

     

    The practicalities

    Vet clinics are always busy places, and some clinics really don’t have the space to take on work experience students, that’s not your fault. There are many people who need access to vet clinics, in particular, vet and vet nurse students who will be asking clinics to take them for important training placements. It may be that the time you are free from school is not a time that they can accommodate you.

    There is also the safety issue of age. Under UK rules on exposure to radiation it is advised that those under 18 are not allowed in a room with an X-ray. Even the safest of clinics may have their X-ray machine in their prep room, and thus if you are under 18 and looking for work experience some smaller clinics may not be able to take you.

     

    Applying

    Apply in plenty of time, if a clinic knows you are coming they will have time to organise a rota (some places do a rota 6 months in advance) and ensure there are staff there to support you. They may also have you in for a few hours to make sure you really want to come and be a vet or vet nurse.

    You are likely to be asked to send in a covering letter and a CV and you may need to attend a short interview. These are all positive things as they are good experience for the future, and will ensure you are going to the right place for your work experience. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been in clinics where one student didn’t want to be a vet or vet nurse but wanted to be an actor! Taking up a space I’m sure someone else would have loved and been very pleased with!

     

    Flexibility

    Hopefully this isn’t sounding too off-putting as there are still many places that could take you – if you can be flexible. Although many schools have set weeks for work experience, there is nothing to stop you applying to volunteer in a vet clinic after school or at weekends. This can be a great way to see how the vet world works and I know some people have done this as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award.

    Check with your school if there is any flexibility in when you can attend. There may be options if the place you want to go can’t accommodate the pre-set times.

    It’s also worth looking at alternatives that might help you get some animal care experience. Kennels, catteries, stables and farms might not seem as glamorous as the vets, but might give you valuable experience.

     

    What to take

    Next, let’s think about what to do to get the most from your time at your placement. Before you go, find out what you will need to wear, if you need to bring anything with you and who you are meeting on your first day.

    You will mostly be advised to wear something comfortable. Make it something that you don’t mind getting dog hair on! It’s also really important to wear COMFORTABLE shoes! You will spend a lot of time standing so be prepared!

    I would also advise you to take a small notebook and pen. Questions will arise, often at times it is best not to ask, so make a note of what happened and what you’d like to know for later. You will also be given a lot of information about tasks you can help with, so writing down notes on what to do and how to do it will help. For some parts of your time you’ll be observing but there are many jobs you can help with.

    Most importantly – take an open mind! Veterinary care is quite unlike anything else you will have been part of. It will be odd seeing a patient anaesthetised or having surgery, so be open to how we improve animals’ welfare in a variety of different ways.

     

    Overall – good luck! While most people find themselves inspired to go on and qualify as a vet or a vet nurse, remember, there’s no shame in deciding you don’t want to join our world once you’ve seen it – it certainly isn’t for everyone!

    Wildlife in Spring

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    As the seasons change, so does the veterinary case load! You may not have thought about it, but now it’s spring we see an increase in cases of stray animals and wildlife. With wildlife this is mainly for two reasons. Firstly as the weather gets better people are outside more and so see more wildlife that may be having an issue – and as it’s spring much of that wildlife is young and finding their own way around, which can lead to us humans thinking they need help.

    While vets do see wildlife casualties, we aren’t generally set up to rehabilitate them back to their healthy state to be returned to the wild. Therefore we often work with rescues and charities, both locally and nationally, to ensure we give the best care to wild animals when they are in our care. I’ve met many grateful clients who have been amazed at staff driving wildlife to rehab centres after work or at weekends to ensure they get good care. I’ve even had some clients take their foundlings themselves to wildlife centres. Working with the public to get wildlife well again is a really great feeling!

    Yet, we see each year the campaigns about how to handle wildlife – if at all. For example, what to feed hedgehogs and what should you do with the juvenile seagull that has two adults flying around it? Well, read on to find out more!

     

    Fledglings

    Baby birds cause more than their fair share of worry in spring! They seem so tiny and helpless that it’s easy to see why people pick them up and bring them to the vets. Yet in many cases this is the worst thing to do. As the RSPB says ‘it’s perfectly normal to see a baby bird on its own’ so that is not a cause for concern in itself. There are also different stages of development that alter what you should do if you see a bird, so it’s worth reading more from the RSPB – click here to read more. If you’re looking for an easy visual way to help then the RSPCA flowchart helps a lot too – click here to read it.

    The RSPCA also has advice on ducklings and these are commonly seen in urban areas. Ducks aren’t the best at choosing a safe nesting site, so it’s not unusual to find them nesting on roundabouts or balconies and when the ducklings hatch these can be quite dangerous places – read more here

     

    Other wildlife

    If you see other wildlife injured, or in a dangerous situation, then the RSPCA has some good common sense information. This includes guidelines and their phone number to call to see if they can help (0300 1234 999) so read more here. If you find baby wild animals that appear to be orphans, it’s worth reading about what to do with specific species. Baby deer (fawns) and baby hares (leverets) are often left alone so observing from afar to see if the mother returns is the best first course of action.  

     

    Marine wildlife

    Seals and seal pups both spend a significant period of their time on beaches or rocks. It isn’t unusual to find them and they are much more dangerous to try and handle. The British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) work across the UK to rescue marine mammals so they are worth a call to get some good advice – read their information here – and if you spend time around the beach, storing their phone numbers in your phone is a good idea! I’ve got them stored in mine for any marine emergency!

    BDMLR rescue hotlines:

    See their website for details
    01825 765546 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
    07787 433412 Out of office hours and Bank Holidays

     

    Hedgehogs

    Finally onto the gardeners favourite… hedgehogs! Hoglets are very cute! Feeding them at any time of year is welcome, but bread and milk is not the right diet – it’s a dangerous myth, and I’ve no idea where it started! Hedgehogs need a protein based diet, so dog or cat food – either tinned or crushed up biscuits – are both suitable diets. They need to not be a fish based food as this causes diarrhoea that can be fatally dehydrating. There is specialist hedgehog food available if you are keen to provide the best for them.

    If you find a hoglet then do read about how to monitor them and handle them safely if you need to. There’s also good info on caring for hedgehogs all year round, as their numbers are declining and they need all the help they can get –  read more here.

     

    We are truly lucky that in the UK we have a wide variety of wildlife that lives happily with us in rural and urban areas. Living in close proximity to wildlife that we don’t always see means we don’t always know the best ways to help but hopefully you will be inspired to help – even if it means leaving them alone!

    Small pets for small people – how to you choose the right one?

    blog, News and Comment,

    Surprise, surprise, it’s my day off and guess what I’ve been doing?

    Well, writing, as is my usual way to spend a day off, but also at the vets. Not working but taking the dogs in for a few things. While we were there myself and the vet chatted about pet shops.

    (more…)

    It’s Confession Time

    blog, News and Comment,

    I’ve had a dog and a cat that I rehomed. By rehomed, I mean that I owned them and I found them another home that wasn’t mine.

    Not via dubious online adverts or anything substandard for the pet – but I found them a better home through appropriate means, as they weren’t getting the best out of life with me.

    (more…)

    Because I don’t like people?

    blog,

    I’ve always wondered when human nurses get asked ‘why did you want to become a nurse?’ if they ever answer ‘because I don’t like animals’? This type of reasoning can be some people’s answer about why they might like to be a vet nurse or vet. For us in the industry it goes without saying that stating ‘I don’t like people’ in a job or college interview isn’t going to get you in there, but for others it might not be quite so obvious to see. For anyone considering a career in the veterinary or related animal focussed industries you might want to consider the humans that come attached to every type of patient.

    (more…)

    Here for a good time, not a long time

    blog, Cats, Dogs,

    It’s with a heavy heart I share with you that my beloved Hollie has passed away. She was only 11½ years old and while she was very unwell there’s a bit of me that feels robbed of sharing a longer life with her. I especially feel this as I rescued her five and a half years ago when she was 6 and I felt I needed to give her at least the same amount of time with me as she had spent in her previous life.

    This all feels even worse as she took matters into her own hands at the end and passed away on her own terms. I had planned for euthanasia but not in enough time for her, so I’m even more distraught. Euthanasia is such a hard decision to make and we focus so much on the future it can sometimes be hard to be in the present, and in particular our pets’ present.

     

    What do our pets know?

    Focussing on how, when and why we euthanize pets brought back a conversation that pretty much sums up my attitude towards the pressure we put ourselves under to prolong our pets’ lives as much as possible.

    Our elderly cat LB was very arthritic and needed to start some painkillers. These were known to be a factor in kidney disease, so my vet and I had a discussion about starting them as LB was 17 years old and had very early renal disease signs. From an owner point of view that was scary because if I chose to start her on medication was I hastening her towards her grave? If I didn’t medicate her though, she was living in pain daily.

    Unlike us our pets aren’t planning for a long-term future. She wasn’t struggling in her litter tray thinking that if she rested more and didn’t start painkillers she’d see her grandchildren grow up. Our pets live in the present much more than we do. I respected that and I started her on painkillers and in my vets words “she’s here for a good time, not a long time”.

     

    They don’t always follow the plan

    LB didn’t agree with that and refused to succumb to any renal issues and lived another 5 years on the painkillers, and in the end it was the arthritis that became too much, rather than the renal issues. She had lived a pain free and happy existence and I was so happy with the choices we made.

    Hollie also didn’t follow my plan (I see a theme from my pets). I had decided that there wouldn’t be any further diagnostics, she was doing OK in hospital and so I’d take her home for a night then euthanize her at home the next day. The vets agreed with this plan and so we were all set for the next day. Only Hollie didn’t know this and decided it was time to go. She always was an independent and stubborn dog and stayed true to this until the end and I have to accept that.

    She was here and had a fabulous time with me so I can’t be sad over this extra 6 months I hoped to give her for my own well-being rather than hers. Enjoy your wings my little angel, you are much missed.

     

    This Christmas – a phone call to the vet is free

    blog,

    This might be stating the obvious but in the current world of telemedicine and video consults and searching Google for the answer, it’s good to know that a phone call to a vets 24/7, 365 days a year is free. Yes, FREE! (more…)

    April showers

    blog,

    April was a sad month for us at home as we lost our beloved Tillie cat. It’s been an odd time as we feel very guilt free about putting her to sleep. It feels like we had good communication between both myself and my husband and the vet team caring for her. She was determined to ignore her non-working kidneys and keep on living but we knew it was the end and as she always liked a Bank Holiday trip to the vets we gave her one last trip on Good Friday. (more…)

    Fleas – unwelcome guests

    blog,

    As it appears Spring has finally Sprung! Of course, it affects us all in different ways and for my husband (G), the DIY fairies visited and he has completed the last piece of DIY that was needed to be done since we moved in, 8 years ago. (more…)

    Language of the Vet Practice…

    blog,

    It’s been a rough month: Tillie isn’t well, Hollie has a spot on her bottom and my car is in the palliative care stage of life.

    Of these three things it’s the car I find hardest, emotionally. I’m not great when my pets are ill, but I know the vet world and its nuances. I don’t know the car world quite so well, despite caring for my car just as well as I care for my pets. (more…)

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