How to best prepare for your EMS placement – Dos and don’ts

Preparing for EMS placement

Booking EMS

Whether preclinical or clinical EMS (although I will focus mainly on preclinical), your first port of call is likely to be your university database. However, don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth, especially if you’re struggling to find a placement! Ask friends, students in older years, post it in your vet facebook page – everyone will have had to find something similar to what you’re struggling with, so don’t despair! 

Make sure you contact placements far enough in advance that they will have availability (when this is depends on the placement, with zoo/exotic preclinical placements being an example of somewhere to contact >1 year before). However, it’s also important to remember not to get stressed out if other people in your year seem to have completed/booked lots of more weeks than you – you’ll still get them done, and it’s not a race! 

When booking a placement, consider asking some questions to gain a better idea of what is expected of you: 

  • What kind of clothing are you expected to wear? Do you need to bring any of your own PPE/what do they provide you with? 
  • Are you expected to bring anything with you, except a packed lunch? 
  • What are the expected working hours? 
  • Where should you park? And where/to whom should you report on the first day? 
  • You may need to enquire as to if they provide accommodation 

Some basic do’s & don’ts for placements include: 


  • Be on time! And if you’re going to be late for some reason, let them know
  • Ensure you’ve filled out the relevant paperwork with your university before you go and after you finish the placement (to make sure that the placement will count as EMS!) 
  • Be proactive and get involved – you will gain absolutely nothing standing in the corner watching, but you’ll get nothing but respect for offering to help and getting stuck in
  • Dress and act appropriately, especially if you are in front of members of the public
  • Say thank you when you leave – I always find that a thank you note (and a small box of chocolates if they went above and beyond to help me) go down very well 

"It’s important to remember not to get stressed out if other people in your year seem to have completed/booked lots of more weeks than you"


  • Be rude!
  • Cancel your placement at the last minute (except in cases where it is truly unavoidable) 
  • Put yourself (or others) in a situation you feel is unnecessarily dangerous 
  • Don’t forget to enjoy yourself – you can make fab friends and memories on EMS placements, so make the most of it! 

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