The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Jeff Brisebois

Year 2 BVM&S GEP from the University of Alberta, Canada.

What made you decide to study abroad after your BSc at the University of Alberta?

After not getting into vet school at home on the 2nd attempt, I made the decision to try again one last time but to also explore options to international schools. I felt that after quitting my previous job and doing all my hard work to obtain a BSc, I owed it to myself to at least explore the option of international schools. If accepted then I would do heavy investigation to find out if I could go to school and live abroad.


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

I only applied to international vet schools that had accreditation with the AVMA. This was because it is easier to get licensed through the CVMA, if I decide to return home and work after I qualify from the R(D)SVS.

My decision to apply was also based on advice from some of the licensed vets that I have met in the years prior to my application. The majority of the veterinarians that I spoke to said that students they had seen in the past from the R(D)SVS were strong students and were very knowledgeable about veterinary medicine. It was also noted that previous R(D)SVS students had similar, or sometimes better, knowledge and technical skills in comparison to Canadian veterinary students.   

Lastly, my decision to apply was also based on the experiences and extremely positive feedback from many people who had visited the city. I was assured that the city was beautiful and its residents were very nice.


What was the application process like?

I applied through the Veterinary Medical College Application Service and the process was very easy. In my admission year, I had to put together a portfolio consisting of a variety of documentation (CV, work experiences, volunteer experiences, school records, references, GRE results etc.). It was a tedious process but very painless. Interviews were not offered for international students during the year that I applied and therefore did not have to travel to anywhere after my application was submitted.


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

In the BVMS degree I have so far enjoyed the atmosphere of the school. I appreciated how approachable all of the professors are, regardless if they only teach, do research and teach or are clinicians and teach. All professors are very approachable and willing to help at anytime. The atmosphere is also very relaxed, which is a nice contrast to the more intense and stressful program. There is a lot of staff support, which makes the stressful parts of the program easy to deal with. I feel that this all results in students who are easy to make friends with and are more than helpful when you need help studying or trying to find something fun to do outside of class time.


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

Life in Edinburgh was very easy to transition into. I find that the city, the country of Scotland and the UK are very similar to North America. For example there are familiar shops that can be found in the city and they have similar hours to what you would find in North America. The residents of the city live a very similar lifestyle in regards to type of work, sports, recreation, etc.  Of course the city, country and UK each have their own quirks and quarks that remind you that you live in a foreign country but it adds to the experience in a very positive way.

The transition to studying abroad has also been easy and I think this is because of the support that is provided at the R(D)SVS. There are a lot of programs that the school offers for academic, financial and social support and is all are easy to access. This has been very helpful in allowing me to deal with the heavy workload that is unavoidable.

Has Edinburgh become your home away from home?

Absolutely and not only because I spend more tie in Edinburgh then I do in Edmonton. The people I have met have been very welcoming and I have made friends with fellow students at the R(D)SVS and with people who are not. I genuinely feel at home living in Edinburgh and in Scotland.


What do find is the most challenging aspect of your degree?

The most challenging aspect of my degree is the workload. There is a lot of material to cover in the course and it can be hard to relate that into clinical work because you are often held back with a lot of information. It is also hard to find time to relax and do something fun that is not associated with studying (going to the cinema, sporting event, etc.). However, I feel that is not a trait of the R(D)SVS but in veterinary medicine in general. Any veterinary school will have very heavy workloads to accomplish before you can graduate and finding a good balance is something that every student will have to do.


How is your programme equipping you for your future career?

At the current moment I feel that my program is equipping me for a future career. The program does a fair amount of clinical skills classes that have aided me in developing technical skills. There is also a very large amount of reference material in the library or the study landscape that I have referred to during my study time.


Doing EMS in Canada and at the Hospital for Small Animals has been rewarding because I am able to practice the same skills that I have learned in the classroom. I also greatly appreciate that the Hospital for Small Animals and the Large Animal Hospital at the R(D)SVS allows students to practice their skills (and often encourages them to do so) because not all veterinary clinics outside the school will offer this for a variety of reasons. Both hospitals at the R(D)SVS are also great to have because the clinicians working in them are the same ones that teach you and have a very good awareness as to what you have studied and what is expected of you as a student (based on your year of study).


What aspect of student life do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the fact that I feel like I am being developed into a good veterinarian. I feel like the program is designed to allow me to succeed academically and after I graduate. I also enjoy that I decided to do my studying in Edinburgh. It was not an easy decision and financially can be difficult but I do not regret my decision and would make the choice again.


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

Take the process and decision process one step at a time. The first step is to apply. You won’t know what your options are until you try. Then once accepted take the time to visit the city before you confirm you acceptance. See what the city is like and how life is, check out the school and talk to current students. Once that is all done then decide if you should make the move. The whole process becomes easier when you take it one step at a time.