Island Girl: Aspiring Vet With No Pets

Updated: Jul 4


My two cheeky guinea pigs, Dixie and Halo.

I have always had an interest in animals from a young age even though my parents were adamant that I was not allowed to have any pets. This was due to their Caribbean culture whereby pets are kept outdoors. It took a decade to convince them to allow me to have a pet which was a dwarf hamster. Two years later I was promoted to having a pair of guinea pigs named Dixie and Halo. Having pets and volunteering at my local animal shelter really cemented my desire to become a vet. Between year 10 and 12, I spent more time volunteering and completing work experience within local practices. During A-levels, I chose to study Biology, Chemistry and Psychology which at times proved to be very challenging. One of these challenges included resitting year 12 due to my predicted grades being lower than the acceptable grade boundaries for veterinary medicine. At the end of year 12, I was given the opportunity to attend the RVC Sutton Trust Summer School where I developed a better knowledge and understanding of what the life of a vet student entailed. At the summer school, I was surrounded by many like-minded students with a common interest. My experience at the summer school inspired me and gave me the added motivation to work harder to achieve the grades I needed. Also, the student ambassadors would emphasise that the RVC was a community and I wanted to be a part of that. When the nerve-racking UCAS and exam period came around, I was pleased to be accepted onto the RVC gateway. Now that I have completed the gateway course, I have begun my first year with much enthusiasm. During this academic year, I have learnt so much about myself, enhanced my knowledge and made incredible friends. I am looking forward to my future at the RVC and cannot wait to see what it has in store.

Lambing placement in my Gateway Year

Pony trekking in Scotland with my family
Practising suturing and bandaging at the RVC Clinical Skills Centre

When thinking of advice for my younger self, my main advice for finding work experience is to contact as many places as possible that are in your local area. Due to how busy vet practices can be, I was most successful when I contacted them by phone rather than by emails. Also, if you are able to visit the vet practices and show your friendly face then that is even better. Whilst on your work experience, be sure to take notes on what you have observed and skills you have learnt throughout your time there. This will become extremely useful when writing your personal statement or attending future interviews. In addition, do not feel reluctant to ask questions. The staff often like when students asks questions because it shows that you are engaged, however, be sure to choose an appropriate time to do so. Lastly, make the most of your time by offering to help with tasks e.g. cleaning, preparing equipment and assisting the vet nurses. This will demonstrate that your willingness to learn and be involved with all members of staff around you. Additionally, when it comes to needing references, the staff will have plenty of positive things to say about you and will be pleased to have you back again. Due to the current pandemic, I appreciate that gaining work experience may prove difficult. However, do keep these tips in mind for the future and I’m sure they will be of some benefit to you!


Written by: Gabriella Bell



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