Hi folks! I am here back at it with my third blog post. During my Instagram takeover week, I was asked quite a lot about what experience the BVM&S programme looks for in its applicants. Although I cannot speak to that specifically, I can share a little bit about the experience I applied with.
Firstly, I tried to gain as much experience with different species and in different environments as I could. This was more for me, as I wanted to be absolutely 100% sure that I wanted to pursue veterinary medicine before committing time, money and moving across the globe. I had experience working with fish in a laboratory setting, wildlife and cats and dogs before beginning vet school. Unfortunately, as I lived in a city in Canada, it was difficult to find time with livestock. I also had significant experience working with diverse groups of people and leading groups as well.
On the clinical side of things, I spent a few months one summer in university volunteering at a veterinary clinic in Toronto. As this was my first clinic experience, this was mainly setting up for surgery, restraining and cleaning. I then took a gap year after graduating from university and spent 5 months working full time at a veterinary clinic as a veterinary assistant. In this position, I learned how to properly prepare and read histology, how to restrain for blood pulls and how to assist in surgery and appointments when needed. This experience solidified my desire to be a vet and gave me more of the full picture of what being a veterinarian is like.
In undergrad, I had the opportunity to be a coordinator for the neighbourhood shelter. I was involved in leading trips of other students to the shelter to cuddle cats and walk dogs. I was also involved in setting up a free dog walking service through this club for members of the community who could not afford to pay for a dog walker or who were unable to walk their dogs themselves for various reasons. In 2020 I also spent the summer as an adoption screener for a cat shelter in Toronto. This was an incredible experience as I now have experience talking to people from all walks of life and know how to identify a good pet owner.
This was by far the most unique animal experience I have had. I spent four months as a wildlife rehabilitation intern in Nova Scotia at Hope for Wildlife. Firstly, I spent quite a lot of time at the intake facility. I was responsible for the initial examination, diagnosis and prescriptions when animals first joined the facility. I then spent significant time at the intensive care unit and assisted with medicating, feeding, cleaning and caring for animals in critical condition.
I also volunteered in a graduate student’s biology study and helped supervise, feed and care for the fish in the experiment.
Although everyone comes to veterinary school with different backgrounds, I would just advise gaining as much experience in different areas as possible. More than anything, spend time working with animals you are passionate about! Coming in with hands-on experience will only make your adjustment to veterinary school that much easier. Also, remember that experience working with people and problem solving, even if not in an animal context, will also enhance your skills as a veterinary student and in your career.