The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Claire Wallace

Year 1 BVM&S GEP from Canterbury Christ Church University - UK

Claire Wallace

What made you decide to apply to The University of Edinburgh and The R(D)SVS after your BSc?

In my second year of my undergraduate degree, my parents and I flew up to Edinburgh and had the opportunity to tour the Vet School. I was very impressed with the facilities as well as the emphasis on community within the school itself between the staff and students. Our tour guide explained many traditions and celebrations that the vet school has including Burns Night, how the fourth years wear animal-themed onesies on their last day of lectures and the vet school coats the fifth years wear. It definitely seemed like a fun place to study!

Alongside the facilities at Easter Bush (the vet school campus), the 4-year course was probably the main reason why I decided to apply to the University of Edinburgh. When I applied, I was in my final year of my BSc undergraduate degree in Animal Science and I was keen to begin studying to become a vet and finally start working in my dream job which made the one year less of studying an attractive proposition!

What was the application process like?

I applied via the UK’s UCAS system. As I had used this system before to apply for my undergraduate degree, it was relatively easy. The Vet school website was easy to navigate and provided information such as academic and non-academic requirements. The admin team were always there to answer any questions I had with regards to my application.

What stands out in your mind from your experience at Edinburgh and studying Veterinary Medicine so far?

The GEP course has allowed me to make friends with people from all over the world. My year group has a whole year Whatsapp group which has allowed us to help each other if there are any topics we are struggling with. This has proven to be very handy around exam time!

The Vet School allows you to get hands on from day 1. On our first week we had several practicals with animals along with dissections and the staff were more than helpful and were on hand to answer any questions/demonstrate animal handling techniques again on a more one-to-one basis. Recently we had the opportunity to do our first rectal palpation of a cow which made us all feel like official vet students!

Has Edinburgh become your home away from home?

I have made a group of friends this year that I know I will be friends with for a long time. The city of Edinburgh is also a perfect backdrop to my studies and acts as a base to explore Scotland. After our first exams, my friends and I headed north to the Highlands and spent the weekend decompressing after our first weeks of vet school. We have also recently been to the Scottish Borders for the weekend and hiked to Hadrian’s Wall.

Before I started at the vet school, I managed to find a two-bedroom flat for myself to live in as I preferred to not go into student accommodation. As I only live in England, finding a flat was quite easy as it was an excuse to have a few weekends away in Edinburgh before I moved there.

Was it difficult to transition into life in Edinburgh and studying abroad?

I personally did not find transitioning to life in Edinburgh hard as I had my flat arranged in advance as well as my car. Although a car is not needed in Edinburgh due to the extensive bus routes, I have found it useful especially when travelling to the vet school, for shopping at the bigger supermarkets and for exploring the surrounding towns with my friends. Edinburgh is only an hour flight away from where I live which has given me the opportunity to fly home and visit my dogs whenever I want!

What aspect of the BVM&S degree do you enjoy the most and why?

The animal handling practicals are the parts of the week I look forward to the most as it provides a good stress relief and reminds me why I’m studying so hard! So far, we have had handling classes in the following animals: dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, horses and exotics (including rabbits, guinea pigs, snakes, bearded dragons and many more).

Have your EMS placements helped to shape your studies so far?

EMS has provided me with invaluable information from industry professionals and people that I will be working with in my everyday life as a vet. Animal Husbandry EMS allows an insight into the everyday care of an animal which has allowed me to begin to apply the course content to practical situations.

How is your programme equipping you for your future career?

Throughout my first year at vet school, the clinical significance of each topic is highlighted within the lectures themselves. The lecturers and practical leaders are very willing to answer any questions that anyone may have (clinical or otherwise) and are keen to help you learn. They are approachable and personable, which produces a very encouraging learning environment. We also have a module in our first year called ‘Profession and Clinical Skills’ which allows you to explore the ethical side of working as a vet as well as preparing you for situations you may face when you’re out in the real world.

If you could give one piece of advice to any prospective students thinking of applying to the R(D)SVS, what would it be?

If you want to be a vet or want to work in the veterinary world R(D)SVS is a great learning environment with the Scottish countryside as a perfect backdrop! It is accredited with a number of accreditation bodies which expands your horizons once you graduate. The staff (the lecturers and other members of staff) are extremely welcoming which gives the vet school a community and tight-knit feel.

Although the first year of the GEP course is intense, it is worth it and I have definitely learned a lot about myself these past few months. Do not let this stop you applying as it is manageable if you are on top of your studies and have a good studying technique. The 4-year course definitely has a camaraderie to it due to its intense nature and you will definitely make some friends for life who have shared this experience with you!