Hannah Mason

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Hannah Mason

Hannah Mason

Hannah Mason

Name: Hannah Mason
University: Bristol

What did you intercalate in and where: BSc International Health at the University of Leeds

When did you intercalate: Between 4th and 5th year

Why did you choose to intercalate?

I decided I wanted to intercalate because I have always had a keen interest in how doctors and vets can work together to further their collective knowledge. There are many things that vets can teach doctors and vice versa. I also wanted to learn how to carry our research – something which is not really taught at Bristol. When I first decided to intercalate I was having doubts about my desire to enter clinical practice and wished to explore another dimension of veterinary that we rarely get exposed to during vet school.

What did you learn from your intercalation?

Learning how to conduct a research project, and that not all research is boring statistics has probably been the biggest lesson. It has been incredibly enjoyable studying with medical students who often have different perspectives on topical issues. We also have modules on disease outbreak control, which is invaluable for public health. Studying a course which is completely essay based has also helped me with my time management massively, it was at first very difficult to adjust to not cramming for exams and instead writing essays, but my writing and critical thinking is now very much improved.

What was the best part of your intercalation?

Moving to a new city and meeting loads of interesting new people was really fun. In summer I plan to go to Tanzania and conduct research on the perceptions and adaptations to climate change within livestock keepers. The opportunity to fully explore a topic I am interested in was great, especially as the veterinary degree tends to be quite rigid.

What was the worst part of your intercalation?

My friends will all graduate this summer whilst I have to continue another year, it is also an extra £9000 of student debt. However, I would do it all again in an instant

Has it changed what you will do in the future?

Yes, I definitely have a keen interest in research. However, it has also confirmed to me that I definitely want to go into clinical practice for a few years as I do miss veterinary. I think previously 4 years studying the same subject had caused me to burn out slightly, however now I am excited to re-enter the course.

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Matt Ashford

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Matt Ashford

Matt Ashford

Matt Ashford

Name: Matt Ashford

University: Cambridge

What did you intercalate in and where: BA Theology at Cambridge

When did you intercalate: After 2nd year

Why did you choose to intercalate?

At Cambridge we all have to intercalate, though most people stick to something like Pathology or Pharmacology. I wanted to use the opportunity to have a break from science and spend a year doing an Arts subject. I chose Theology for a couple of reasons. Firstly, as a Christian, having the opportunity to spend a year studying the academic credibility of the Bible was really interesting. Secondly, Theology allowed me to experience lots of different aspects of the Arts; some language, history, and literature.

What did you learn from your intercalation?

Though none of the content was directly relevant to my veterinary career, lots of the processes involved in studying an Arts subject are beneficial. For example, the time management that comes from having so few contact hours or improving your writing style by churning out essays. As well as these transferrable skills, I also learnt lots of things that I wouldn't have had the opportunity otherwise, such as Koine Greek.

What was the best part of your intercalation?

It was great to have a year where the pressure was off. I had a lot more free-time, which I used to play lots of sport. And it was really cool be in control of what I studied - I read and wrote about things that I found interesting, rather than having to learn everything I heard in a lecture.

What was the worst part of your intercalation?

Since we all intercalate, I didn’t have to change year group or anything like that, but it can be frustrating seeing my mates at other vet schools getting through Final Year while I'm still stuck in lectures!

Has it changed what you will do in the future?

Not really, I still plan to practice as a vet. However, it has made me think about practicing part time whilst working for a church.

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Stephanie Bale

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Stephanie Bale

Stephanie Bale

Stephanie Bale

Name: Stephanie Bale

University: Cambridge

What did you intercalate in and where: BA in Zoology (with Biological Anthropology as a minor subject) at Cambridge

When did you intercalate: After 2nd year

Why did you choose to intercalate?

Well, at Cambridge intercalation is a normal part of the course for most students! Anyone who doesn’t have a degree before they get here does the ‘extra year’. This might make it sound as though I didn’t really pick to do it, but it was one of the reasons Cambridge was my first choice uni, and I was considering doing it if I ended up somewhere else. Why do five years at vet school for one degree, when you could do six and get two? As for why I picked zoology, it was mostly because it offered a lot of variety.

What were the best aspects of your intercalation year?

Am I allowed to say free time? Seriously, compared to the rest of a vet degree there was a lot more chance to relax and enjoy the uni experience. The lecture load was severely reduced (maybe two lectures a day max) which gave me a lot more time to spend hanging out with friends and generally enjoying living in Cambridge. However, I also really enjoyed the course. It was nice to be able to actually pick my modules, and sometimes be able to apply veterinary knowledge to understand them (my anatomy knowledge really helped in the evolution modules, when I already knew the names of most of the bones they were talking about). My dissertation was also one of the highlights of the year. While it was stressful at points, there was definitely a sense of achievement of having written it. In general, I’d say I enjoyed the entire year.

Were there any downsides?

Unlike at most unis I didn’t have the disadvantage of leaving my year group behind, as almost all of them intercalated too! I suppose the only real downsides are the cost (both in money and time) of the extra year. However, I figure we have sufficient student debt that an extra year doesn’t make that much difference, and as you can see it didn’t put me off applying to Cambridge!

Would you recommend intercalation to others?

I can understand why people would be put off - 5 years is a lot of time to spend at uni as it is. However, I did really enjoy my third year, and it gave me both an extra degree and (more importantly) a bit of a break before the start of clinical years. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

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Sarah Storrs

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Sarah Storrs

Sarah Storrs

Sarah Storrs

Name: Sarah Storrs

University: RVC

What did you intercalate in and where: BSc Endocrinology at Imperial College London

When did you intercalate: Between 2nd and 3rd year

Why did you choose to intercalate?
I really enjoyed endocrinology when we covered it in 2nd year and I thought it, and the lab time, would be a good experience career-wise. But I intercalated mostly to meet new people, gain new experiences and spend another year in London. (Also, another summer never goes amiss!)

What did you learn from your intercalation?
I’ve learnt a totally new way of working – balancing coursework and lectures has been an interesting one. I’ve also learnt that just because I have fewer lectures doesn’t mean I have less work!
But I’m gaining so many new skills – in critical analysis, scientific writing especially and have so much left to learn with my project in the third term. I’ve also learnt that I definitely chose the right BSc!

What has been the best part of your intercalation?
The best part so far has been meeting so many amazing people! I’ve loved integrating with people from other courses, especially medics and seeing how other universities socialise and study.

The course itself is very interesting, and it’s great being able to study a subject in more detail than time allows on the vet course.

What has been the worst part of your intercalation?
The commute and travelling are added dimensions and costs. The commuter life can be a stressful one though! I wouldn’t change my decision as I am enjoying exploring new areas of London.

Has it changed what you will do in the future?
I couldn’t say if it’s changed my future career because I haven’t even started thinking about that yet. But I would definitely say that it’s opened doors, especially in terms of research. Though I’ve always been more interested in the clinical aspects of veterinary medicine, now the research side definitely has its own appeal. I’m loving the course as well, and could see myself focussing on endocrinology at some point in the future.

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Dave Charles

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Dave Charles

Name: Dave Charles

Age: 22

Vet School: Bristol

Year: 2nd

How did you get into vet school? 

I always intended to apply to vet school so racked up 10+ weeks work experience in a number of areas, including small animal practice, dairy farm, wildlife rescue charities and 2 weeks working on a game reserve, pre A levels. However I wasn’t predicted high enough grades by my 6th form. As a result I studied Biological Sciences at University of Birmingham for a year, and decided it wasn’t what I wanted as I still wanted to study veterinary. Throughout my first year at Birmingham I undertook further work experience and in the October of my second year at Birmingham applied to Bristol, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Liverpool with my A-level grades of A* (Biology), A (English Lit), A (Chemistry) and B (Mathematics) at A2 level. I successfully had unconditional offers by December and withdrew from my degree, only to defer my vet school offer by a year to be a Vice President of the Student's Union in Birmingham for a sabbatical year before starting first year undergraduate Veterinary Science at Bristol. When I knew I was going to reapply to vet school, I contacted the (then 7) UK vet schools, and whilst 5 of the 7 were more than happy for me to apply whilst studying on another degree at a different university, Cambridge and RVC would have required me to have left my degree course at Birmingham or graduate before I applied to study veterinary there. 

What was the most demanding aspect of the application process?

Getting enough work experience in before applying via UCAS! It’s definitely worth looking up well in advance how much different Vet Schools need so that you can plan it out and enjoy some time off in your holidays!

What do you feel most prepared you for vet school? 

Talking to friends who were already at vet school gave me a good idea of what to expect course wise, and the fact I had been to university before meant that a lot of the stress and concerns of moving into a new university city and living in halls, having to manage my own work-life balance etc was something I’d experienced before and was very used to having to do. Also working part time in my first year meant I had a regular income and helped with budgeting, meaning I could really focus in on the work load of vet school, which was a step up from my last degree.

What advice would you give to applicants?

If you’ve got the drive and know you want to be a vet, then don’t let anything scare you away from doing so. Dropping out of one degree to apply for veterinary was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made so don’t be afraid to do what you really want to do!

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Becky Norton

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Becky Norton

Name: Becky Norton

Age: 22

Vet School: RVC

Year: 2

How did you get into vet school?

By the end of year 11 I had narrowed down my careers choices to being a teacher or a vet. Following this I spent 4 weeks of my year 11 summer holidays working at Whipsnade Zoo and 2 weeks at my local vets. Despite the two experiences being worlds apart they helped me clarify that veterinary medicine was the career I wanted to peruse. After completing my A levels, gaining AAB in Biology, Chemistry and English, I decided to take a year out in order to gain more work experience and earn some money prior to embarking on university. During this time I gained offers for RVC’s Gateway (a preliminary year) and Veterinary Medicine as well as an offer from Bristol. After much deliberation I choose to take up the offer of RVC’s Gateway course; having been out of full time education for a year I thought it would give me time to settle into RVC before undertaking the Vet Med teaching. Having now completed the Gateway years I would strongly recommend it to any aspiring applicants.

What was the most demanding aspect of the application process?

Juggling all the different aspects of the application was by far the most demanding aspect of the application itself. A particular challenge I faced was finding farm placements due to arable farming dominating where I live . My advice to any applicants struggling to find large animals placements, because they live in cities or urban areas, would be to ask any small animals vets if they have any contact details for large animals vets who they studied or made friends with during their training.

What do you feel most prepared you for vet school?

I believe the best preparation I had for vet school was undertaking one of RVC’s student shadowing days where you shadow a current student for a day. These are a fantastic way to gain and understanding of how you will be taught and they types of activities you undertake whilst at vet school.

What advice would you give to applicants?

My advice to future applicants would be to make sure you look around as many of the vet schools (if not all of them!) as I strongly believe you get a gut feeling if you feel comfortable and at home at a specific university from looking around and speaking to staff and students. Also, don’t be disheartened if you don’t get in first time around! Lots of people I know, including myself, have had to take a year out for one reason or another; having a year out can be a fantastic opportunity to travel, complete more work experience, and earn some money before you go. 

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Eleanor Robertson

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Eleanor Robertson

Name: Eleanor Robertson

Age: 22

Vet School: Liverpool

Year: 3

How did you get in: I was actually insanely lucky with my applications as I was a little late to the game in fully committing to vet school. Partly for this reason I was absolutely certain that I wanted a break after school before starting university – I was desperate to travel, mature and experience a little more of life before committing to the next 5 years. 
I applied to Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Nottingham with 3 A’s at Advanced Higher and a reasonable amount (12 weeks) of work experience (nothing like some numbers quoted on the student room that terrified me!). I would have been delighted to attend any vet school that would take me, however when I received my offers from them only Liverpool would allow me to defer my entry and so I didn’t hesitate. I had an incredible 14 months abroad, with a massive range of experiences including working at a Canadian Summer camp, diving off a Fijian island and hiking northern Cambodia. I earnt money, then blew it on a bungee jump, got lost on mopeds in Laos then went out for fancy dinners in Sydney – Obviously not in that order.

Most demanding aspect of the process:

Interviews. Yes, they are terrifying and yes, you have to come up with a non-clichéd answer to why you want to be a vet, but afterwards you realise that they are just checking you are a real person who can hold a conversation. It’s not about the knowledge – it’s their job to teach you that later. My interview for Liverpool was actually over the phone – a strange experience, but it obviously went all right!

What do you feel most prepared you for vet school?

Travelling. It sounds corny, and no it wasn’t because I ‘found myself’, bought baggy traveller pants or took up yoga – I just became more confident, more open to opportunities and way more adaptable – All of which I think of as key points that have helped me to enjoy vet school so far.

What advice would you give applicants?

Don’t panic – vet school is overflowing with people who took years out, completed a previous degree or returned after pursuing an entirely different career. No matter when / how you get there – your all in the same boat from that very first lecture. 

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Lara Muttiah

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Lara Muttiah

Name: Lara Muttiah

Age: 21

Vet School: Edinburgh

Year: 2

How did you get into vet school?

I knew I wanted to be a vet from age 13 or so, and I HAD to go to university in the UK! I am Australian but had been living in Sri Lanka for some time, attending an International school. I took 9 IGCSEs and managed to get As/A*s for English, Maths and the Sciences. Unfortunately it was quite difficult to get enough animal husbandry experience where I lived, and I know many other students from Asia who had the same problem. I was able to complete around ten weeks’ worth. I spent four weeks seeing pracise and the rest of time at a riding stable and working with wildlife. Getting farm experience was very hard, which was frustrating because it is important in the UK. Nevertheless, I got 1 week under my belt. I got into vet school on results day in 2013, but decided to defer entry until the following year, resulting in an unplanned gap year. I did A Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics and English Literature. As an international student, my first offer came from Edinburgh in January 2013, without an interview. I had an interview with Bristol over the phone in the same month and an offer from them followed soon after. My last offer was received (again, without an interview) in March 2013, from Glasgow. All the universities offered me a place if I got AAA in biology, chemistry and another subject. I also applied to Liverpool, but withdrew after I received my first offer as I didn't feel that I had enough work experience. I assumed I had not achieved the required A Level results and so had made no preparations for applying for a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK! I had also made some other important plans that could not be moved to a later date, so the admissions staff at Edinburgh very kindly let me defer. 

What was the most demanding aspect of the application process?

I found finding work experience the most difficult thing. To make things harder I couldn't drive so had to squeeze work experience in whilst I was still at school and revising for exams! I was very worried I would be rejected on the basis that I had not clocked up enough hours, until I received the first offer.

What do you feel most prepared you for vet school?

I don’t feel as though I was prepared at all…But I found my rhythm a few months after I arrived. Reading around my subjects and my work experience helped a little. The volume of information you’re expected to absorb is a little intimidating, but working through each week’s work, every week is the solution. Also, although my gap year was unwanted and unstructured, it allowed me to take a break in between school and uni, which, as I discovered, I really needed. I am not sure I would have been able to cope with the stress of going straight to university.

What advice would you give to applicants?

For applicants coming from Asia especially; if you know you want to go into veterinary medicine as early as I did, as well as where you want to apply, I think you must really work at establishing contacts that can help you with getting animal husbandry experience. You will be taught animal handling during your first two years so will be at the same level as everyone else, but for the sake of a successful application, advanced planning is a must. When I applied, the universities were sympathetic to the fact that not everyone would be able to get to farm experience, but even just 1 week like I did can help you prepare for an interview or vet school itself. The interview I had was very friendly, but the veterinary questions that were put to me were mainly related to farm animal husbandry. In hindsight I wish I had read up more about UK farming. Also, while seeing practise remember to do follow up research and form your own opinions! 
It is also important to do extra-curricular activities as this shows that you will be able to cope with vet school and will help you make friends! 

Finally, If you take a gap year-whether through deferral or prior to applying to uni-make sure you do something constructive! My gap year was unplanned and thus unstructured, but I could have done more if I had really tried. Even just travelling can do you some good before entering university life.

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Eleanor Drabble

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Eleanor Drabble

Name: Eleanor Drabble
Age: 22
Vet School: Cambridge
Year: 4 (of Six)

How did you get into vet school?

I applied in my final year of school and was fortunate enough to gain a place, so I started as a school leaver. I had wanted to be a vet for a long time and so although I applied to Cambridge, Liverpool, Bristol and Nottingham, I believe I would have enjoyed the course and university life wherever I gained an offer. I applied to these universities because on the open days I had felt that the students really enjoyed their course, whilst also maintaining a good work-life balance and this was very important for me.

Being keen from a young age I gained a lot of work experience (amounting to 21 weeks). This is not at all necessary; I did it purely because I enjoyed it and plenty of my colleagues had far less. It is also important to remember that the amount of work experience required very much depends upon the University to which you are applying.

In terms of study I achieved A*s at GCSE and A-Level, but this is by no means a requisite to becoming a vet – if you are passionate then follow through and go for it! I had some other qualifications such as Grade 8 on the sax/piano and a scuba diving certificate. It does not matter which hobbies you choose to invest your time in, as long as you can show you are good at juggling your time. I was fortunate in gaining interviews and offers from Cambridge, Liverpool and Bristol although I did not get invited to interview at Nottingham. I found it hard choosing between these three fantastic vet schools, but in the end chose Cambridge for the opportunity to intercalate and the especially small year groups.

I’ll be the first to admit that the golden question: “why do you want to be a vet” is a hard one to answer, however try to avoid answering with the overused response of wanting to combine your love of science with your passion of animals. Be original and think about you personally, what inspired you as an individual?

What was the most demanding aspect of the application process?

The personal statement took a lot of time and energy and even by the end I never felt happy with it, however I’m sure most people are more nervous about interviews. Don’t be! Look over your A-Level notes and any interesting cases that you have come across in practice, but most importantly think! You will be able to work out the answer (unless you’ve answered everything correctly and now they really want to push you – in which case you’re onto a winner anyway!) so stay calm and work through it. Use the process in a positive way to learn more about that particular vet school and gain experience for the next interview that will be winging its way towards you.

What do you feel most prepared you for vet school?

Friends and hobbies! Everyone at vet school is intelligent and good at working hard when necessary, but 5 (or 6 years) is a long time of intense study and it is important to continue doing the things you love to stay happy and enjoy it along the way.

What advice would you give to applicants?

Do see practice and make sure that, to the best of your knowledge, this is the career you want to invest in. Consider the variation between universities; do you want to study for an extra year, do certain universities offer more attractive intercalation opportunities then others, do you want to spend a year abroad, do you want a small or large year group, do you want to get the AVMA accreditation…etc! But most importantly talk to students about their experiences and gain a feel for what would suit you. Work hard but also enjoy life outside of work – it is an excellent skill to have when you receive your offer and begin. Good luck!

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Gareth Jones

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Gareth Jones

Gareth Jones

Gareth Jones

Name: Gareth Jones

University: RVC

What did you intercalate in and where: BSc Comparative Pathology at the RVC

When did you intercalate: Between 2nd and 3rd Year

Why did you choose to intercalate?

I decided I wanted to intercalate because I have always been interested in the science underpinning Veterinary Medicine. I realised that, as there is so much to learn during the 5-year course, it would difficult to take time and investigate the areas I found extremely interesting. Intercalating allowed me this opportunity, as taking a step back from the busy timetable, I had more time to look deeper into the science behind the medicine. I was also interested in doing some research, as I had been contemplating doing some after graduation. Intercalating allowed me to have my first exposure to a prolonged research project in a controlled and supportive environment to see if it was right for me.

What did you learn from your intercalation?

Apart from the in-depth pathology teaching on the course, I learned several skills, which have already helped me in the latter parts of the course. Exposure to post mortems and how to do them, the mechanisms of why lesions develop and exposure to new research outside the normal scope of the veterinary degree has been invaluable. Furthermore, the working in a research group and my lab work, as well as the writing of the dissertation, has helped build my confidence with the scientific process, from troubleshooting problems, evaluating papers and scientific writing.

What was the best part of your intercalation?

The best part of my intercalation year was the amazing opportunities and people I got to work with, as well as having more time to enjoy being a uni student (nice long summer where you can do whatever you want such as travelling is definitely a bonus!)

What was the worst part of your intercalation?

Leaving my old year group is probably the only bad thing of intercalating, as now all my old friends are graduating, while I am still here at university. But it’s not too bad as you get to make great friends in the year group you re-join in.

Has it changed what you will do in the future?

It has convinced me that I would like to do some more research and training post-graduation, probably through a residency and possibly a PhD.

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Helena Differy

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Helena Differy

Name: Helena Diffey

Helena Diffey

Helena Diffey

University: RVC

What did you intercalate in and where: BSc Global Heath at Imperial College

When did you intercalate: Between 3rd and 4th Year

I am often asked why I decided to pursue a degree in global health, and I can only explain the reason as a self-indulgent interest. It wasn’t an easy decision to make but, ultimately, my sense of adventure and anxiety that I would regret turning down the opportunity was enough to make me take the leap of faith.

As the first vet student accepted onto the course, studying alongside medics and bio-medics, I represented an interesting One Health ‘experiment’. To begin with, many medical students seemed confused as to why I was there, since the crossover between animal and human health had, perhaps, never occurred to them. Some students also seemed concerned that my lack of knowledge of human medicine would put me at a disadvantage, whereas in reality thinking about only one species made life a whole lot easier!

The global health course was a whistlestop tour of the global burden and distribution of disease (infectious and non-communicable), approaches to prevention and control of disease and the heterogeneity of health systems worldwide, underpinned by methodological teaching in epidemiology, research principles and critical appraisal skills. Topics ranged from mathematical modelling, developing new vaccines, sanitation engineering and the role of science and technology in development, to anthropology, mental health, epigenetics and climate change.

As much as possible the teaching was very interdisciplinary and I particularly enjoyed topics such as the role of the pharmaceutical industry and trade agreements in access to medicines, and ethical issues of research in resource-poor countries, which required exploration into politics, economics and other social sciences. A substantial amount of time was spent considering how health is measured and how issues are prioritised in the process of policymaking by the huge range of stakeholders involved in the global health system. I found this particularly eye opening as these topics are never touched upon in the veterinary curricula, but they felt particularly relevant.

Perhaps inspired by the small amount of sociology we studied, I sometimes felt that approaches to certain disease challenges were ‘over-medicalised’ with a lack of cultural sensitivity. Medical sciences certainly have a lot to offer in terms of technical and innovative solutions to health problems, but without investing in social and governmental change these problems won’t be solved.

However, this is exactly the dogma that the interdisciplinary ‘discipline’ of global health is trying to overturn, recognising that global health inequalities must be tackled from all angles and as a team effort in order to reach the most pragmatic solutions. I certainly think that my veterinary training thus far had given me a more holistic attitude to the causation of disease and I was far more accustomed to the idea of considering environmental changes to prevent disease outbreaks and production losses.

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, I found that little attention was paid to animal health in the context of development and food security. Zoonotic and foodborne disease risks are a huge problem in resource-poor and rich countries alike. Moreover, in many developing countries where farming is the primary occupation, animal health is crucial to maintaining adequate standards of nutrition (a key aspect of human health) and the economic stability of the country. I was a strong advocate that animal health should not be overlooked in class discussions, and I hope that future vet students will do the same!

After an intense two terms of lectures, the university set aside three months to carry out a research project. Trying out research was another of my aims in intercalating and I was lucky to be given a fully funded project on the neglected topical disease opisthorchiasis, caused by the southeast Asian liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini, which took me to Thailand for two months. I worked in university labs in Bangkok and Khon Kaen in northeast Thailand, attempting to extract DNA from single Oviverrini eggs in order to carry out population genetic analysis. However, what we didn’t realise until we got there (due to a few hitches in communication with the Thai scientists) was that no-one had even isolated a single egg before.

Consequently, my first experience of research, combined with my first experience working in a foreign country completely on my own, could definitely be described as a ‘baptism of fire’ into the world of research, but it was an unforgettable character-building experience nonetheless. I felt as though I learnt an unquantifiable amount about the process of science and research as well as Thai academia and culture. And I haven’t been put off the idea of doing further research either. After handing in my dissertation, all of the pain that went into it seemed to vanish immediately and I deliriously started imagining what my next project might be…

The year went by in a flash and I’m now gingerly readying myself for the last two years at vet school. My ambition to be a large animal vet survives, but there’s no denying that I’ve been completely taken and absorbed by the world of global health. I would like to pursue a career within the field as a vet, without feigning as a human medic, and I strongly believe that vets have enormous potential to help in the pursuit of global health equity. The concept of One Health is most powerful within global health where animal expertise can affect the health and welfare of humans and animals across the world.

Raising awareness of One Health is crucial and there is concern within the veterinary profession that our expertise is not recognised or valued by allied health professionals, as revealed in the BVA/RCVS Vet Futures project. The profession needs to advocate and lobby for animal health to be prioritised in global health governance and policymaking, as well as promoting the value of veterinary expertise. I hope that more vet students will be encouraged to intercalate in global health; I can wholeheartedly say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am certain that global health needs many more vets and in turn, vets need more global health!

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James Bladon

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James Bladon

Name: James Bladon

James Bladon

James Bladon

University: University of Liverpool

What did you intercalate in and where: BSc Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Liverpool

When did you intercalate: Between 3rd and 4th Year

Why did you choose to intercalate?

After three years of the vet course, I wanted a change, so an intercalation seemed like the perfect opportunity to study something different and experience something new. The subject of evolutionary anthropology couldn’t be further from Veterinary science, and the choice was deliberate. I’d always been interested in the subject after traveling to several places (mainly in Africa) that have been closely linked with the evolution of humans, and wanted some formal teaching to complement the books I’d read. Intercalation also gave me the opportunity to meet a completely new group of students and staff. We all know how much of a clique vet school can be, and it was great to get a break from that for a while. Intercalating also got me an extra degree for only a year of studying, which in today’s competitive careers market seemed like a no-brainer.

What were the best aspects of your intercalation year?

The Veterinary course is one of the most intense and time-consuming of those available at University. Coming from this environment, I had much more free time than I expected in my intercalation year. This accumulated to make me feel very fresh coming back onto the vet course, and despite this it really didn’t take long to get back up to speed with the knowledge I’d accumulated in the preclinical years. The subjects I studied, such as bipedalism, intelligence, tool making and fire building, were fascinating. My dissertation was on the domestication of the dog and the evidence behind it. The choice for dissertations is so flexible that I could choose something that is actually very relevant to Veterinary medicine.

Were there any downsides?

Many would consider leaving your year group behind a downside to intercalation. On the flip side, it means that you get to meet a whole new year group a year later! If you like meeting new people like me, then it’s easy to see why I would view this as a positive rather than a negative. It does mean an extra year at University and the fees and costs associated with that, but as I’ve already mentioned, it’s great value for money. Whilst you are young, what’s the difference in taking one year out to broaden your horizons and gain a fantastic qualification?

Would you recommend intercalation to others?

Most definitely, I have no regrets over intercalating. That said, I can see why it isn’t for everyone. You have to have the right mind-set if you are going to intercalate, and for some it isn’t the right option, either financially or personally.

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