People are interesting, especially when they’re at vet school studying to do what they have always wanted to do. One of our clinic’s regular work experience students, Guy Wolfenden, very kindly agreed to be placed in the Vet School Success Hot Seat recently so that he could answer questions about studying in Australia and his life as a vet student.
Murdoch University Vet School – Perth, Western Australia
4th year of study
I did A-levels at a British school in Dubai, completing Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics with A grades, and an AS level grade A in Art & Design.
Had you always wanted to be a vet?
In theory yes, however, there was a stage in my school life where I pondered over Law or Veterinary science – however, I’m not the biggest fan of reading, so Law went out the window as I was told most lawyers spend most of their evenings and any other free time reading!
I also had a toss up between Medicine and Vet Science, but I feel as though I would prefer to help animals instead of humans and I’m not sure I would want to be forced to treat dying patients (humans) who could not legally be humanely let go to a better place.
Did you find it easy to source useful info to help with your preparations for vet school applications?
My university applications were done from two different sources. I applied to British Unis through UCAS at school during sixth form – a straightforward process that was shown to us by our teachers and careers advisors.
However, I also applied to Australian Universities externally, using the Internet as my sole source of information. Applications were done through individual university websites and I had to contact and seek advice and Visa approvals from Australian education agencies here in Dubai. All in all, both ways were relatively straight forward, just with lots of different forms to fill out and send off to respective Universities. The Internet is an extremely useful tool.
How much work experience did you have before applying?
I had worked at a vet clinic in Dubai as part of my Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, it was my ‘Service’ for Bronze, Silver & Gold – so all in all I had spent approximately 6 weeks at a veterinary clinic. However, most of this time was spent doing tasks completely unrelated to veterinary science itself, more so to help out the clinic staff with tasks and cleaning. I undertook a game-ranger course in South Africa the year prior to university. This was a two-week intensive course that gave me vast knowledge of wild life and game reserve management at a very busy national park in Africa.
To be completely honest, I enjoyed working/helping out at the vet clinic prior to university, but I could have just as easily started university without the experience as it didn’t serve to bolster or give me a head-start when Uni started.
What have you enjoyed most about the vet course so far?
Up until busy and intense 4th year, my favourite aspect of vet school was my friends and the fun we had both in and out of vet school. The people are fantastic and all in the same boat, so everyone wants to be learning and getting good marks, everyone wants to help each other and get as much experience as possible in practical classes. However, since the beginning of 4th year (approximately 6 months ago), surgery has been my favourite thing! There is nothing quite like the high when you finish a surgery and admire (in some cases!!) your work!
What have you found most challenging?
Finding the right study technique – I must confess, the first year or two I didn’t work hard enough during term time. I spent a lot of stressful nights, close to final exam time, cramming as many missed lectures into my head as I could! Even know, attending all lectures and being proactive with study and keeping up with the workload, it is often difficult to find the right way to study and retain the knowledge when it comes to exams. Keep up to date, and make notes during term time – good ones!
What is great about living and studying where you are?
Its Australia! I’m English, but there’s no denying, the lifestyle in Australia is a lot better! Studying in the sun and being able to unwind in the sun and play sports is a great bonus.
In terms of studying, Murdoch University is one of only a few Vet Schools that has its own farm and production centre on campus. That means no travelling to and from practical classes or to farms. It is just a two-minute walk down to the farm! A great bonus and I would highly recommend Murdoch University to anyone interested in studying within Australia.
Where do you see your career taking you?
I’d personally like to specialize in small animal surgery and open, or at least become a partner in a clinic(s) where I can set up a cat-friendly environment and offer the best possible service to all those purring-creatures!
But the great thing about vet science is that there are so many different avenues. I have friends in my class who have no desire to practice veterinary science, but use their degree to do research and pharmaceutical work to help advance the drug side of the industry.
Any helpful hints?
Keep focused on what your overall goal is, but don’t let the idea of ‘vet science is so difficult’ get the better of you. It’s a great degree and offers you a great outlet for meeting new people, learning great subject matter and most of all, having fun!
Also, MIND MAPS are a great study technique, for both school and university!
Work hard at A-level/IB – the hard work is rewarded in the end – the 1st year of vet school is basically one big party, so its definitely worth the hard slog at school!