Studying Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge University

Studying Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge University

October 18, 2019 7 By Stanley Isaacs


When you start at 18, your eyes are
focused on, I’m going to be a vet in practice. Studying at Cambridge Vet school does open your eyes to the world of possibilities with veterinary
medicine. It’s not just a case of study vet medicine, go and work in general
practice for the rest of your life. You never know where the vet career is going
to go and it’s an incredible thing that it can almost go anywhere. Whether
that’s the European specialism, research, teaching or government work. The size of the vet school is the important thing. It is the smallest of the vet schools, but we see that very much as a positive. Out of all
the universities we’ve got the smallest class sizes, about 60 a year. It means
that we get the opportunity to spend more time with the students on a
one-to-one basis. That goes for the first three years, where you’ve got the
supervision system, so once a week you’re literally spending an hour with somebody
from your three main subjects and you’re talking it through. You’ve got the
ability to ask questions, we have the ability to question you. You find in the
final year, the groups are three, there’s three students, so you’re not
treated as students at that point, you’re about to become professional. You
are treated as professional, as you’re part of the decision making team. You
have one-to-one case control, which is actually quite unique, I think, compared to
everywhere else. We have the best of both worlds. On the one hand, we’re at the
epicenter of a huge research environment, so we have the benefits that that brings
in terms of being at the cutting edge of research
advances. But we also have a wonderful referral hospital on site which gives
our students the chance to get lots of clinical experience in very small groups.
We don’t want to trade off of a name, I don’t think any of us want to trade off
just the Cambridge name. What we want to do is be justifiably up there as one
of the great science universities in the world. For the last five years, we’ve had
the clinical skill centre and which is now set up and is a foundation of our
training. There’s a chance to go and practice all those skills before you
go and see a live animal. There’s various equipment around that allows us to
practice putting in cannulas, to potentially give animals fluid and
there’s some wonderful equipment here where we can actually control what they
see on the screen for the unaesthetic as if there was a real patient there. What
that allows us to do, is obviously give them a relatively normal set of
circumstances and then slowly ease them into something maybe more dramatic
happening. You’ll see an array of animals at the vet school, which is incredible.
In my final year I’ve been involved in treating of a cheetah from a local
wildlife sanctuary, I’ve been involved with people’s pet pigs, thoroughbred
horses that have won races, people’s prized pets, down to rats, hamsters and guinea pigs. There’s such a wide array of animals that you’ll be
involved in treating and you never quite know what’s going to come through the
door. These are some of the horses that we use for teaching and specifically I
use these horses to teach cardiology. We have two other buildings as part of
the hospital, one which is our diagnostic unit, where our inpatients stay
and we have an intensive care unit at the back of that building and our other
building is a surgical building where we’ve got two surgical suites. What we’re
really looking for at an interview, is a real passion for the subject and an
ability to problem-solve and have a go at problems even if it’s an unfamiliar
topic or an unfamiliar area. I think it’s really important to have a
really inquisitive mind always be asking questions that’s the way that we’re
always learning and developing within within the career. We’re not so
interested in acquisition of specific knowledge at that point, but really an
ability to problem-solve and have a go. I think the other thing that’s really
quite important to us, is a science-based degree here it’s a very heavily
science-based degree and we want people that are passionate about that science,
the underlying principles behind it. I got to the end of my first year and I’d
failed a couple of my exams. Actually I feel now five years on I’m a stronger
person for having gone through that, than if I have found vet school a walk in the
park. Because actually there are going to be challenges through my career,
there’s going to be difficult cases, there’s going to be things that you’re not going to be
able to do. That’s okay, you can get over those and you can still build
and improve. Whether you think it or not, you are Cambridge material because
you’re the brightest of your class if you’re applying for veterinary medicine. You know, you’re up there. In my mind, I wasn’t Cambridge material I was never going to
get in. I only applied because my parents said, well what’s the harm and sending
off an application and yet I’m here three months, hopefully, from graduating
as a qualified vet