Aspiring vets whose dreams of work experience were shattered by COVID-19 lockdowns will get the chance to watch veterinary professionals as they work broadcast live online.
One of the casualties of COVID-19 was not only the scrapping, in many instances, of EMS placements for current vet students, but also in-practice work experience for senior school pupils dreaming of pursuing veterinary careers.
Vet Mentor, a non-profit social enterprise, has been set up to dedicate itself to giving back to the profession by offering early support of the next generation.
A network of vets across the UK has formed and is developing tailored educational programmes to help nurture vet school applicants. It is also advocating for greater access to veterinary careers.
With competition for vet school places high, one important component of applications is committing to numerous weeks of work experience to gain a realistic insight into the clinical and non-clinical sides of the animal health sector.
With COVID-19 restrictions having reduced work experience opportunities to prospective students significantly, Vet Mentor is launching a programme of live, virtual work experience sessions, kicking off on 21 March.
Aimed at secondary years 10 to 12, or S4 to S6 in Scotland, pupils who register will be able to watch vets dealing with animals and clients live, and then join interactive sessions with mentors to reflect on what they have experienced.
The first #VetWex session will focus on small animal general health and a typical day in the life of a companion animal practitioner, with themes changing over subsequent monthly events to reflect the diversity of vet degrees.
Alex Davies, chief mentor for veterinary with Vet Mentor, said: “Our network of applying students shared with myself and the chief mentors that veterinary work experience opportunities had been limited to none.
“So, we launched a virtual widening access alternative to ensure students have a chance to benefit from all of the essential learning opportunities that work experience has to offer to applying students.
“Gaining work experience has always been notoriously difficult – especially accessibility to the agricultural sector. COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem of accessibility to most of the profession.”
He added: “It’s inspiring to see that students are so committed to work experience, and want to best prepare themselves for vet school. We are proud that our virtual programme is free, and any student in the UK can attend from the safety and comfort of their homes, while learning what it is like and what it takes to be a great vet. Since it’s a live event, students will feel as if they are right in the room shadowing the vet.”
Dr Davies said the programme had been devised to cover as many different specialities as possible, and additional to the five live sessions, further activities are taking place in the run-up to application time.
Vet Mentor is still interested in hearing from anyone who wants to swell its network. For more on Vet Mentor, visit the vet-specific sections at www.medicmentor.co.uk
Credit: Virtual work experience to showcase vet work to pupils
In-text: (Vet Times, 2021)
Vet Times. (2021). Virtual work experience to showcase vet work to pupils [online] Available at: https://www.vettimes.co.uk/news/virtual-work-experience-to-showcase-vet-work-to-pupils/