For budding veterinary students, going on safari is often a childhood dream, and for this year’s group of pre-vets it was the opportunity of a lifetime as this turned into reality! Being a veterinary student myself, I remember exactly how nerve-wracking it was to put together my application for university. Being accepted to vet school often involves hard work and commitment as early as from high school, from choosing your subjects to starting your work experience.

The pre-vet course delivers work experience like no other, and aims to give you an edge over other applicants in several aspects. From observing vet work up close to advice on writing your personal statements, to post-morteming a waterbuck and practising interviews, we try to help you stand out and make your application as strong as possible! With a current vet student and Shamwari Conservation Experience rangers always on hand to help, shadowing Shamwari’s very own highly respected wildlife vet Dr. Johan Joubert, and vet nurse Megan Sinclair, was an unbelievable learning experience for the students! To watch the students develop over the two weeks and see their confidence grow was so rewarding, and I have no doubt they will all be very successful in their chosen fields of veterinary work!

We caught up with our pre-vets six months on to see how they’re getting on:

‘The pre vet course was incredible. The activities we got to participate in were well beyond what I expected. As well as being significantly more hands on than I anticipated, such as a post-mortem on our first day! If you have any doubts about the pre vet course, you will not be disappointed. Since doing the course I have found it to be a good gateway to work placements and a hot topic during interviews. The course was worth every penny in my opinion and a great investment.’
‘I applied to vet school in October at Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Liverpool, and have recently received offers from Liverpool, Glasgow and Cambridge and have an interview at Edinburgh in March! I am really looking forward to it, and despite me already knowing veterinary was for me, the Pre-Vet course was a real eye-opener to the various work you can find yourself doing as a vet. Not only is it something great to talk about at interview, it’s also an experience like no other. I had no idea how hands-on it would be; helping move lions, zebras, a rhino and doing a post-mortem to name a few! I’m actually going back to SA this Christmas (and Namibia), I already know how much I will enjoy it. If you’re a bit worried that it’s not totally relevant to the UK curriculum, there’s plenty of lectures and demos on subjects such as farm animals, anaesthesia and suturing, so you can definitely relate it all to life back home. Hopefully I can do the vet course at Shamwari when I’m at uni!’

‘On my journey to becoming a veterinarian, I wanted to gain experience working with exotic wildlife. After much research on different programs, I found the Shamwari Pre-veterinary and Veterinary Eco program. It was the best decision I could have made! The Pre-Vet program was extremely informative. With the help of a current vet student who previously spent time on the reserve, we partook in activities that would give us an edge over other Pre-Vet students. We practiced suturing techniques, as well as getting help with our personal statements. Every day on the reserve was an opportunity to learn something new, from which sedation drugs to use on different species, monitoring and tracking animals, to assisting with necropsies. I have recently been accepted to the Atlantic Veterinary College at Prince Edward Island for the DVM class of 2021. I believe that my experience at Shamwari Game Reserve gave me an edge over other applicants and strengthened my application. I would do it again in a heartbeat!’

‘I’d already applied to vet school in South Africa, to become a vet nurse, before joining the pre-vet course. I thought the experience and knowledge gained from my two weeks would help boost my application. I recently found out I was accepted and I really feel my time at Shamwari helped make that happen as it gave a boost to my application. I absolutely loved and valued my time at Shamwari, it was honestly the best experience of my life and I’d do it again in a heartbeat! I learned so much about being a vet, more specifically a wildlife vet, but the skills and technique are mostly the same. I thoroughly enjoyed the practical learning parts of the course. Learning how to suture on rubber examination gloves stuffed with cotton wool and how to bandage a paw, demonstrated on a toy lion and then being practiced on a member of the pre-vet team, were highly enjoyable and well informed. Being in the field and working side-by-side with head vet Johan Joubert and vet nurse Megan Sinclair was exceptionally special. Getting involved when we were needed and stepping back to observe when we weren’t. My knowledge of veterinary life grew and I realized my capabilities and boundaries that I’d have to overcome. I would recommend this course to everyone, not even specifically people wanting to be a vet but to anyone with a passion for animals. The pre-vet course widens your view of animals and about the goings on in a game reserve. Thank you Shamwari for the most incredible time!’

‘I have yet to apply to vet school but Iwill be starting the application process very soon. I feel as though the pre vet program will help my application stand out from the rest. This program has helped me greatly to learn valuable skills and information that I wouldn’t be able to gain from anywhere else. This program has confirmed my aspiration to become a veterinarian and attend grad school in the US. I can’t wait to visit South Africa again in the near future!’

‘It has been six months since my adventure at Shamwari game reserve and to this day I still enjoy telling my friends and family about it. A little bit of Shamwari mud left on my suitcase, I left there with both physical and mental souvenirs that will be valuable to me for the rest of my life. Having worked mostly in marine conservation since I was thirteen, this experience was a marvellous opportunity to indulge another dream of mine, to study veterinary. I had the opportunity to visit Shamwari as a guest when I was 6 years old and it was so nice to get to come back and see exactly how the game reserve is run and meeting all the lovely people who care for, and are so passionate about, Shamwari’s animals. Between helping load male zebras that are on their way to a new game reserve, watching a mother cheetah and her cub cuddle in the rain, helping apply antibiotic spray to a rhino’s foot and learning how to suture on rubber gloves, my Shamwari experience was so magical and has helped me to gain so much experience not only with animals but when applying to university as well. I have been accepted to study a veterinary physiotherapy degree at Equine-Librium College in Plettenburg Bay, South Africa and will start in February of this year. I am extremely excited. Shamwari helped me discover a new passion and a career path and left me with memories that I will never stop talking about. For anyone considering this course, DO IT! It is worth its weight in gold and between meeting passionate people, helping animals and going on game drives, you will not be disappointed. Thank you to Erin Thompson for being a fantastic mentor and listening to my all my questions and a thank you to Chanel Carlson and Konrad Muller for making us students feel so at home and for sharing all your knowledge. It was a truly marvellous experience truly marvellous experience. ‘

If you think the pre-vet course could be for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information! We would love to hear from you and are happy to answer any questions!

Erin Thomson
5th Year
Glasgow Vet School, UK