Final-year student diary – Rosie Perrett
A few weeks of electives and final examinations are the two things between me and qualifying as a vet.
My horse rotations were spent at Liverpool’s Philip Leverhulme Equine Hospital. My four weeks were spent getting an introduction to everything from surgery, lameness and imaging, to medicine, orthopaedics and equine anaesthesia. Having grown up around horses, I expected it to be easier than it actually was. Turns out ‘smallies’ come more naturally to me.
Working in the equine hospital was similar to my experience working in the small animal teaching hospital: we have our own in-patients and we follow them through the hospital – admitting them, helping with diagnostic investigations and getting involved in further treatment. Some of the things I find myself getting excited about are bizarre – an animal’s bowel movements, for example. One of my equine patients had been admitted with colitis, and during the week its faeces became solid – I’ve rarely got so excited about poo!
Anaesthesia was a stimulating week. Not only was I deciding the anaesthetic protocols, but I assisted with everything from pre-op assessment to recovery. Supposedly, horses learn from each anaesthetic experience; for example, horses that have had multiple anaesthetics (say, for sarcoid treatment), learn not to try to stand too soon in recovery and get better at it each time.
Farm rotations are quite different: they involve lots of standing and plenty of exactly what the public thinks large animal vets do – rectal examinations.
During the reproduction rotation, I (literally) got to grips with pregnancy diagnosis and felt much more confident at recognising pregnancy through manual palpation. At just under 5 feet tall though, most cows are decidedly taller than me, so I needed a stool to stand on.
My farm block also included learning about farm practice, disease investigation, public health and reproduction. During our public health week we visited white and red meat abattoirs – it was a real eye opener, and was essential for recognising and understanding how food arrives on our plates. I enjoyed being on farms because most farmers allow students to get actively involved in pregnancy diagnosis, giving injections and discussing herd health.
Safari park placement
My most recent placement included working with a local safari park. It was great to have the opportunity to visit the park and see how vets work with unusual species. Every day my vocation brings new surprises.
Besides the veterinary stuff, I also helped organise and run the Leahurst choir (for staff and students) at the end of last year. We met every Wednesday evening throughout the autumn term to prepare for a carol concert. Turns out, vets aren’t just good at being vets, some of them are fabulous singers too. I looked forward to Wednesday evenings – doing something a bit different from the day job.