Here at OIC we strive to ensure our students leave us as not only academically gifted students, but students with real-life experience of the careers they hope to pursue. Our super-curricular team work hard with students to ensure they are able to get this experience with local organisations during the College holidays. This October a number of students headed off on such placements.
Here, an OIC student and aspiring veterinary surgeon, gives her account of her time at a local veterinary practice:
I was extremely excited and thrilled when I found out that the application for my work experience was accepted. I had also somehow managed to sort three work placements for my holidays throughout the year.
I was placed at Iffley Vets, which is relatively close to my accommodation. On my first day at work, I was pretty curious but also very nervous as I was the only student doing work placement there and it was my first time working in a veterinary clinic. Throughout the whole week, the routine for the mornings was to prep for operations, which are usually scheduled to be operated in the morning, and then, in the afternoon, I would watch consultations and help the veterinary nurses to clean the kennel, mop the floors and generally make sure the clinic was clean.
Overall, what I learnt from the work experience the most was how to face death. That was a new feeling for me, as I’ve not seen dogs or animals die every day before. On average, there were at least 1-2 dogs which died by euthanasia per week. This is due to either to being very sick or to the quality of life (5 freedoms) being in question, such as when they are too old or having a malignant cancer. What I learnt was that being a vet is that it isn’t always facing happy, cute animals. The other side of being a vet is to make wise decisions on the spot. For example, there was a Staffordshire bull terrier which had been vomiting blood for a week. She was very sick and scared when she was brought in. She was scheduled for a gastric endoscopy, which I watched the vet perform, this lasted around 2 hours. It resulted in the discovery that the dog had lumps which were cancerous in her stomach. The vet had to decide immediately if they should to inform the owners that the best treatment for her would to be put to sleep as her condition couldn’t be cured and she would only get worse and worse. Or to decide what could the other possible treatments be. They ended up deciding to euthanize her. While they were putting her to sleep, I was out for a break, so I didn’t know she was put to sleep until I came back and touched her. When I first touched her (she was dead) I felt there wasn’t any heartbeat or movement from breathing. I asked the nurse if she was dead and the nurse said yes. I was terribly shocked and surprised as it was my first time touching a dead body and as she only alive few minutes ago, I didn’t expect her to die that fast.
On the other hand, it wasn’t all gloomy after all. I experienced eye balls removal (bilateral enucleation) for the first time. It is an experience which I will never forget. It was really interesting for me to see how an eyeball was removed and watching how a vet will fix a problem in a pressurized situation. When the vet was nearly finished with the operation, as he was removing the remaining blood veins and muscles which were attached to the eyeball, he accidentally cut a blood vein and blood started to pump out non-stop. He had to use a cloth to stop the blood as soon as possible. I remember he said that the most difficult thing about surgery was the limited amount of space that he could work on. This was certainly true as the hole of the eye ball was really small, so the space which he could work on was really tight, and the chance making a mistake was really high. I also assisted the vet by holding a lamp next to him for 2 hours straight, so it was hard work for me as well, as I couldn’t move, and I need to hold the lamp as steady as possible.
I experienced a really unusual case of a dog having a heart failure and after doing a CPR once he came back to life, but his heart went wrong again, and his heart completely gave up for the second time. When his owners came back, they came back in tears and it was a really hard moment to see and experience. I really felt bad for both the dog and the owner as well.
After the 5 days’ work experience, I think that this career is really different compared to what I expected before.
To conclude, this work experience gave a true taste of what a life of a vet is like. It, obviously, isn’t easy. There are long standing hours and the vet is on 24/7, so vets need to each be on-call alternatively every few nights. This is a career which is clearly not about earning money and the time contributed to animals is really high. However, this made it clear to me what being a vet is really like and when the vet was able to help the patient successfully from recover from his/ her sickness I felt it was really happy. I was glad to feel and see how happy both the patient, owner and the vet were and so it really made me want to pursue this career to help the animals who are in need.
I really thank all the members from Iffley Vets for allowing me to gain experiences that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
For more information on Iffley Vets, click here.