Vet school: Royal Dick School of Veterinary Science
Year of graduation: 2014
Home Region: Yorkshire!!!
What did you aspire to do when you applied for vet school?
I grew up on a mixed farm with beef cattle and sheep, as well as a few horses, dogs, cats, and chickens. As a kid I would run amok in the surrounding lands, enjoying the countryside and wildlife, then watching David Attenborough on an evening. When I grew older, I started working more on the farm, as well as doing work experience on other farms, enjoying working with the animals.
It was my sister who wanted to be a vet, a dream she had had since 8 years old. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I loved science and animals, so did the same work placements as she had done. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by great people doing fascinating things with the creatures that I loved.
Thus, with no definite plan of whether I would be a farm vet, or a smallies vet, or even a scientist with a veterinary background, but enthralled with the people I'd met and procedures I'd seen, I went to Edinburgh.
What are you doing now?
When I was looking for jobs after graduation my brother-in-law suggested I also look elsewhere in the world. His brother puts in robotic milking machines and had spent 6 months in New Zealand, which he thoroughly enjoyed. With this in mind I looked at jobs in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
Somehow I landed a New Zealand Production (that's Farm in Kiwi) job, in a town called Bulls (seriously), in the Manawatu, a region with a lot of dairy farms. The Australians have a joke about Kiwi's getting their milk from Bulls.
I'd never been to New Zealand before. It was the scariest thing I've ever done- flying half way round the world, to a place I'd never been to, to a job I'd never done.
Totally Worth It!
I've been here over 14 months and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've learnt a huge amount about the job, the industry, the country, and the culture, as well as making new friends and meeting the Prime Minister John Key.
What is your favourite thing about being a vet?
I love spending time with people who really know and care for their animals, but also people who want to know more. Farmers know that their animals are their most valuable asset. Many want to know more about the workings of their stock, as well as having valuable insights themselves into their animals and the land they farm. This is particularly pleasing when you both start using each other's information, such as farmers thinking more about how they move their stock or use antibiotics.
This is even more rewarding in another country, as systems, lifestyles, and research differ. Travel broadens the mind!
What is the worst thing about being a vet?
The thing which upsets me most whilst doing this job is when dealing with those who don't understand their animals, specifically when they can't understand that animals do feel boredom, hunger, pain, and suffering. We work hard as a profession to educate people and to ensure the prosecution of the worst offenders, yet some people choose to remain ignorant whilst others are not specifically doing anything illegal.
What has been the most memorable/interesting experience of your career so far?
One of my first jobs was to go examine a young pet calf. There was a small umbilical hernia. Having helped repair 3 during my final year I felt like I should be able to do the required surgery. When I got back to the practice my senior vet said I had been "brave" to do that myself. I caught up with the owners during the following weeks as the calf made excellent progress.
He was my first officially solo patient, as well as my first solo surgery.
Do you have any future career goals?
I'm about to leave my wonderful job here in order to go off travelling! Specifically to see the rest of New Zealand, Australia, and the southern states of the USA. After that I'm returning to the UK with the aim of getting on to a poultry internship next year.
If you could give one piece of advice to current vet students, what would it be?
Learn to develop a professional opinion. What if this was your own animal? What would you want done for it?
What's more, as a student, express that opinion. You'll be literally being paid for it as a vet. If it's wrong as a student it is the safest time to find out. When you are right you'll know you can trust yourself, as well as earning some extra credit.
For advice on finding a veterinary job in New Zealand, as well as my travels whilst here, check out my blog: http://thebigbullshitblog.blogspot.co.nz/2015/02/how-to-get-into-new-zealand-as-vet.html