Becoming a vet has been a lifelong ambition for Sixth Former, Hollie, and she is prepared to do everything it takes to train and qualify in this demanding field. We met up with her at the end of her week-long work experience placement to find out how spending time at an equine veterinary clinic has further shaped her plans for the future.
“I have wanted to be a vet for as long as I can remember and I’ve always loved horses,” explains Hollie. When my request to carry out a week’s work experience at a veterinary clinic in Henley-in-Arden was accepted, I was ecstatic!”
Securing a placement in a successful clinic working alongside qualified vets and veterinary nurses is no easy task; demand for such placements is high and priority is typically given to those studying veterinary science at university. This didn’t deter Hollie from seeking a placement, however, and her efforts paid off.
“Although the prospect of going on placement was exciting, it was also a bit daunting,” remarks Hollie. “I’d dreamed of having this opportunity for such a long time and my A-level choices [biology, chemistry, economics and AS business] were all made with a view to me becoming a vet. Had I not enjoyed the placement there would have been some difficult decisions to make. Fortunately this wasn’t the case and I Ioved every minute of it.”
During her week at the Walnut Hill clinic Hollie was able to observe many different aspects of equine healthcare and gain an insight into the latest equipment and techniques used to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. “I saw x-rays being used to look for breaks and hairline fractures, fluid on horses’ legs being detected with ultrasound, and lots of different medications being administered,” explains Hollie. “As with human patients, care has to be taken to ensure the correct medications are given to the correct horses, and great precision is required when injecting the horses’ joints. During the placement I was given the job of checking poo samples for worms under a microscope, which was an entirely new experience!”
The placement gave Hollie a much better understanding of the skills required to become a successful vet. “Being good at science and an animal-lover isn’t enough,” reflects Hollie. “Having strong interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate and empathise with clients is crucial. The clients I met at the clinic were, understandably, very attached to their horses and you could see they trusted and felt a connection with the staff caring for them. Without this it would be very difficult to have a successful business. Being a vet also requires plenty of stamina; you are on your feet all day but it’s mentally exhausting too. And, of course, you have to enjoy spending time outdoors.”
Hollie took every opportunity to immerse herself in clinic life, saying, “I just wanted to soak up as much as possible. During my lunch breaks I even read the veterinary science books and magazines that were lying around. The staff at Walnut Hill were fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for a more positive experience. It’s only strengthened my ambition to become a vet and it’s given me the drive I need to return to school and give Year 13 my best shot. I’m hoping to make the grades to study veterinary science at either Bristol or Liverpool; both of these universities have equine hospitals.”
As Mrs Bennett, Careers Coordinator, explains, “Work experience is becoming an ever more essential component of a good quality application for further education and, certainly, the more work experience the girls can evidence, the better placed they will be when they enter the job market. Work experience gives an invaluable insight into the world of work and the skills, responsibilities and attitudes required. It allows the girls to sample different careers and industries, thus helping them to make the most appropriate decisions.”
We wish Hollie all the very best as she completes her A-levels.