‘It has been 6 months since our Pre vet students had a life changing 2 weeks in South Africa carrying out veterinary work on Shamwari Game reserve with both myself, a UK mixed practice vet and Dr. Johan Joubert a highly respected wildlife vet. With so many more students applying to vet school than there are places available it is more of a challenge getting into vet school than surviving it. I am so proud that all of these talented, enthusiastic students have taken what they learnt in SA and have been successful in their applications to vet school back in the UK and around the world. Veterinary medicine is an amazing career, one where you have the opportunity to help animals, people and communities. There are so many opportunities for veterinarians to make an impact on the world, I have no doubt the pre vets 2014 will be making a difference in the not so distant future.

Six months on here is what some of our pre vet students are doing…..

‘I have offers to study veterinary medicine from Cambridge and Royal Veterinary College, London and I’m at an Edinburgh interview tomorrow. I haven’t thought about what to do with my summer yet, just focusing on getting the grades for vet school! Although I have been doing a bit of campaigning and fundraising at school for the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative after what we learnt about Rhino Poaching at Shamwari Game Reserve. The experience was great to have some work experience that was something different, and gave me lots of skills from working in a team to mass capture. I definitely want to do some clinical EMS in SA once I am in vet school!’

‘I have not applied to vet school yet, I will be applying  to UK, American and Australian vet schools at the end of this year in the hopes of starting in 2016. I think the pre vet program was amazing and it really helped me to grow and develop my skills and having learnt and seen a lot I think it’ll help my application process immensely, mostly because it was an amazing experience and what I encountered and learnt will stick with me. I definitely intend to go back to SA. Both to do more courses, volunteer and hopefully, eventually, to work.’

‘So far in my applications to vet school I have gained an offer from the University of Surrey and universidad cardenal herrera in Valencia. I am going to apply to some more universities in Spain, Germany and Switzerland as well! I have my last exam on may 15th and afterwards I am planning on travelling a bit with friends and working a bit as well.’

‘I’ve applied to universities: RVC, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Glasgow. Got interviews for all 4! I am considering taking a gap year, 
SA was so amazing for more than just my application, but it’s something different to stand out about in your personal statement and interviews, it helped give me an insight into the opportunities available as a vet. It was the perfect combination of vet work and a holiday. It was a lot more hands on than most work experience I have done. The Post Mortem especially, was the best anatomy lesson I have ever had. The friends I made despite not knowing anyone pushed me out my comfort zone at first, which I think is important as a vet, and teamwork side of things with the game capture was critical to my future vet life. And obviously I’d go back SA if given the opportunity, I intend to do what I can of my EMS abroad anyway, but going back to SA would be a dream.’

‘I have offers to study Veterinary Medicine from Edinburgh and an offer from RVC, and I am still waiting to hear back from Glasgow. I am not sure what I’m going to do over summer other than play a lot of cricket, hopefully get a job, and travel a wee bit.’

‘I got in to the University of Illinois and the University of Missouri and still waiting to hear back from the University of Wisconsin. So very exciting!! It’s for real! Actually happening! I’m going to be a vet! I feel like the pre vet program made me look more diverse, gave me an edge doing something that very few have probably ever come anywhere close to.  I also used it to talk about how I had a more global perspective in general, and especially in veterinary care and conservation. It gave me a cool thing to talk about in interviews. Also the spay I did with UK vet Rachel and all the medical lectures we had was great to write and talk about.  As far as future vet life I really feel like the conservation aspect stuck with me. I would LOVE to go back to SA if the opportunity presented itself or if there some vet work I could get involved in.’

‘I am still in school, one more year to go. I haven’t applied to university yet but I think I will apply to University Zurich. The SA experience was the best thing I ever did. It helped me with finding my extended essay topic. I definitely will be going back to SA if possible. I didn’t really start yet, I just decided on the topic but basically I will write about possible ways on how to stop illegal rhino poaching and trade. I will try to get an interviews with organisations working on the front line of fighting rhino poaching.’

‘The pre vet experience really helped my chance of getting into vet school, as I was the only SA participant and I can also use a recommendation from wildlife vet Johan. I have been shadowing at vets for my summer holiday and working on practical skills have done an artificial insemination course through our school. I am applying to veterinary medicine at University of Pretoria.’

‘Well I started university in September, and its amazing! In some way, my experience as a prevet in SA was a dream, and I hope it becomes real again. I often compare what friends in uni what work experience we have all done, I promise that nobody planned to sedate a hyena and collar it! Vet Rachel taught me stuff that is now very useful, I can learn technical names in English and Spanish at the same time and some things of those lessons we had, appear in my notes! My pre vet experience in SA made me feel more certain about what I want to do in my future life and light the “spark” that made me start dreaming about my life as a vet. And of course I would go back to do some vet work in SA, it would not only be to learn, but to live a beautiful experience in a beautiful country with amazing people.’

For anyone who is thinking of taking part in the prevet course or not too sure about applying to veterinary medicine, please do get in touch, drop us an email and ask any questions!
Look forward to hearing from you!

Rachel Simmons MRCVS
Veterinary Surgeon, Cornwall, UK