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Rising number of students regret taking vet course

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    I've pasted an article below that is from Vet Times. This is such a huge issue - all the effort to get into vet school, the hopes, dreams, work and costs - and then to regret that decision? This is not a good situation! It seems that vet students are simply not accessing the information that they may really need in order to make an informed decision as to whether to study ved med. and enter a veterinary career.

    Does this article ring true with anyone? I welcome your thoughts.

    Jill

    ps I think as a student or potential student you can sign up for access to all Vet Times' content for free - I would recommend it - it's the weekly publication that goes to all vets/nurses/practices.


    Rising number of students regret taking vet course

    9 mins to read Holly Kernot June 6, 2016

    An increasing number of student vets realise they made a mistake in career choice, according to the head of learning at the RVC.
    Prof David Church.David Church, RVC vice-principal for learning and student experience, told Veterinary Times: “We are recognising, in our veterinary student cohorts, increasing numbers are starting to realise they may have been mistaken in thinking they wanted to be a practising veterinary clinician.
    “For some, once they start to live and breathe the job… and become more aware of what being a vet might mean, they are not so sure they want to be a vet.
    “I think there is almost no other profession where there is a higher potential for people to view it with rose-tinted glasses,” he added.
    Prof Church said having recognised a problem existed, there was a need for a mechanism whereby veterinary medicine students could step off the course, explore other science disciplines and reassess their options.
    The college’s dedication to adopting flexibility is one of the objectives in its Learning, Teaching and Assessment Enhancement Strategy.Optional research yearFor many years, the college has offered an optional intercalated research year for second-year or third-year BVetMed students, allowing them to explore a focused, or different, field of science.
    On completing the year, those who wish to recommence their veterinary studies can do so. However, it also gives those who have changed their mind about being a vet the option of graduating with a science degree they can top up to a master’s in a specialism of their choice.
    Prof Church said those engaged in delivering veterinary education programmes had a responsibility to look after, and provide options for, students doubting their career choice, but, ultimately, feel trapped and under pressure to complete their degree, even if they no longer want to.
    He said: “When you talk to vet students, they are under all sorts of pressure to become a vet – not just internally, but externally. Some think: ‘If I don’t complete my degree, I’ll have to go home and tell my parents, and they made sacrifices so I could do veterinary medicine’. It is heartbreaking really.
    “There is a stigma associated with not completing the course – that it somehow makes you a failure, which is absolutely not the case. Prof Church detests the term “exit degree” and has banned its use at the RVC because of its “pejorative overtone”.“After all, those on vet degrees are, by and large, very intelligent and able people who have received a certain level of training in communication and people skills that will stand them in good stead for the future.
    “By providing flexible learning options, such students are given the chance to reassess their aspirations and not leave the course empty-handed if they decide being a vet is not for them. They still obtain a relevant qualification.”Providing opportunitiesPreviously, when a student stepped off a programme it was referred to as an “exit degree” – a term Prof Church detests.
    He said: “I really don’t like the word and have banned it because it has a pejorative overtone to it. It makes [taking that option] sound like something of a failure, which it absolutely is not. Failure is not what we are talking about here in any way.
    “What is new and has very much been on the agenda over the past couple of years has been to explore how we can more effectively provide opportunities for students to step off the BVetMed programme, if they see fit, and move into the science programmes.”
    However, building in flexibility has ramifications for institutions as they are paid different amounts of money for science and veterinary degree students.
    “So, if you encourage students to get off the BVetMed programme, you are going to have less income, but we genuinely believe [helping students] is the right thing to do, so that is what we are doing and budgeting accordingly,” Prof Church said.
    “We owe it to the students to ensure what they get is what they want and one of the things we have to recognise is they want flexibility and the opportunity to decide on undertaking a change of direction during their education.”
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    It would be interesting to see the actual numbers of students choosing to end their veterinary studies in comparison with the number of veterinary students each year. More people may be becoming disillusioned with the career, but the number of vet students is also increasing, both due to increased cohort sizes and more vet schools opening.

    If the proportion of vet students dropping out is increasing then that would seem odd as, compared to many years ago (I'm talking decades here), it's now harder to get in than it was previously (in terms of entry requirements, I can't comment on actual competition i.e. no. of applicants vs. number of places). I know Liverpool have very recently removed the absolute requirement of ten weeks of work experience, but the trend otherwise seems to be for increasing the work exp. requirements; RVC doubled theirs a few years ago. On paper it should appear that potential vets are more clued up about what they're getting themselves into.

    I personally know a few ex-vet students that dropped out very early into the course. While it was a shame that it wasn't everything that they were hoping for, coming to this realisation early on is definitely better, and I don't look forward to a few of my classmates (me? :afraid: ) inevitably leaving in a few months/years.

    Perhaps vet schools need to put more emphasis on the merits of similar degrees such as bioveterinary science and vet nursing, as both are very similar to vet med, in terms of both the science aspect as well as, to some extent, the vocational skills taught. Unfortunately many people still view bioveterinary as a just stepping stone to veterinary, not the demanding and valuable degree that it is itself. Indeed, one of the first questions some of my biovet friends get when they tell people what they study is 'Oh, so will you go on to be a vet after that?'. Is it any wonder therefore that so many people go for veterinary when they might be better suited to biovet when some people view it like that?

    Interesting article though, thanks for sharing :yy:
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    Not surprising, a lot of incoming veterinary students are likely to just be animal welfare supporting hippies who aren't prepared for the scientific and surgical content of what being a vet entails.
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    (Original post by #ChaosKass)
    Not surprising, a lot of incoming veterinary students are likely to just be animal welfare supporting hippies who aren't prepared for the scientific and surgical content of what being a vet entails.
    A bold statement.

    Veterinary applicants are probably the most likely people to have seen surgery on their work experience placements, plus I would hazard a guess that they do more dissections than say, medical students, due to there being greater availability of and fewer regulations surrounding cadavers. I therefore disagree that they'd be unprepared for the surgical content.

    I don't think it's fair, either, to say that they're unprepared for the scientific aspect. Most vet students gain a place on the course after completing scientific A levels, which many consider to be some of the most demanding subjects. In addition many people who drop out go on to study another scientific discipline, so I don't think that a dislike/ineptitude for science is to blame.

    I would also question what makes people who support animal welfare (as opposed to animal rights) 'hippies' but that's just me :lol:
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    I think the real issue is that work experience before vet school generally gives a pretty naff idea of what being a vet is actually like.

    Do you get a real sense of the pressure and stress?
    The fatigue and tiredness from OOH?
    The lack of social life and envy of your friends with 9-5 jobs?
    The crap pay?
    The daily grief you get from clients?
    The amount of effort you put in for clients for minimal appreciation?

    Sometimes the job is amazing. A lot of the time it's crap. Particularly as a new grad, some people thrive, many (if not most) don't. It's a stress and pressure that you won't understand until you get to it. A lot of people say that your first job will be your most important because it will make or break you. You'll either have all the support you need or be left to sink or swim, if it's the latter then any kind of exam/rotation stress suddenly pales in comparison.

    The further you get through the course, the better idea you get. Suddenly other career paths look more appealing, anecdotally I certainly noticed more people look at completely different routes to those they'd envisaged and there being much more discussion about it- even then though some people will make you feel guilty for "wasting" a space a vet school, or tell you how you've wasted your time, adding yet more pressure to you.

    This is a problem which seriously needs addressing. Suicide rates amongst vets and vet students are alarming compared to other professions and although it's relatively easy for vets compared to other people that's not the only reason for the numbers we see.
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    (Original post by ouchthathurts)
    I think the real issue is that work experience before vet school generally gives a pretty naff idea of what being a vet is actually like.

    Do you get a real sense of the pressure and stress?
    The fatigue and tiredness from OOH?
    The lack of social life and envy of your friends with 9-5 jobs?
    The crap pay?
    The daily grief you get from clients?
    The amount of effort you put in for clients for minimal appreciation?


    Sometimes the job is amazing. A lot of the time it's crap.
    Don't forget the £10,000s of student debt that will take 20+ years to repay!

    ---

    I completely agree.

    At vet school you can almost think of yourself as being a "fee paying guest" to the profession. You have no real responsibility, if something goes wrong or you see a particularly challenging client there is always someone to step in and take the heat. Most vet schools these days also have safeguards in place to ensure that you don't work too many hours, get too worn out or work multiple OOH shifts in a row without a break.

    There are also none of the dilemmas of adult life such as taking out a mortgage, paying off student debt and making adequate savings for retirement.

    During my studies I had quite a few vets try to dissuade me, of course it didn't work because I was sold on the romanticism and idealism of the job. At the time I largely dismissed them as just catching them at the "wrong time" or that I would be different (eg; having more passion for the job, being more suited to the profession, etc).

    A lot of us have this sense of arrogance and ambition, we wouldn't be here if we didn't. However, it is that drive and confidence that makes us look for more.

    ---

    I find the figures coming out of the recent Vet Futures report pretty depressing really. The average salary now for a vet with 5-8 years experience is £34,000.

    To a student that may sound great but you would be surprised how little is left after tax, national insurance, student loan contributions, pension contributions, rent/mortgage and day to day living costs. When I earned 34K I had a pretty frugal lifestyle (and I still do). Sure I could live slightly "larger" if I contributed less to my pension and investments, then again I would like to be able to retire one day!

    Ten to fifteen years of study and work experience in similar fields (ie; medicine, dentistry, law) often yields substantially better remuneration, pension and working conditions. Now sure you could argue that I wouldn't be as "stimulated" or get the same job satisfaction (maybe I would?), and money "can't buy you happiness". However, more money can buy you financial security, the ability to pursue hobbies, further study, travel, retire early...

    This is a problem which seriously needs addressing. Suicide rates amongst vets and vet students are alarming compared to other professions and although it's relatively easy for vets compared to other people that's not the only reason for the numbers we see.
    Mental illness in general (ie; stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicide) is a massive issue in the profession and it always has been.
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    Surely vet applicants have more insight into their course than many other types of applicants, considering the amount of experience you have to acquire in order to be in with a chance?

    And it's pretty clear what being a vet involves. Considering the strict and competitive academic requirements of vet course people who actually study it aren't going to be so naive to not realise the harder side of things surely.
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    (Original post by Twinpeaks)
    Surely vet applicants have more insight into their course than many other types of applicants, considering the amount of experience you have to acquire in order to be in with a chance?

    And it's pretty clear what being a vet involves. Considering the strict and competitive academic requirements of vet course people who actually study it aren't going to be so naive to not realise the harder side of things surely.
    To an extent.

    It is worth bearing in mind that only a relatively small proportion of applicant work experience is in a practice setting. If you take Liverpool's old 10 weeks "minimum" requirements as an example only 2-4 weeks of that was in a practice setting.
    Nobody can get an accurate representation of their future profession in 2-4 weeks (or less). Now sure you could argue that every applicant should do more, but there is a rationale behind applicants getting varied experience which is beyond this thread.

    I would also argue that most practitioners try to protect applicants, and to some extent vet students, from some of the harsh realities of the job. It is rare to do OOH or sole charge work as a student, and if you do there is always plenty of backup (it would be unethical to do otherwise).

    Discussion about mental health and remuneration is not talked about openly. Unless you are a vet student at the very least and a paying member of SPVS, for example, it is very difficult to get hold of average salary figures. I've been studying the industry for over 10 years now, this is the first time I have seen figures directly comparing vet salaries to that of other similar fields.

    You also don't get an accurate representation of vet's home lives and the pressures they face on work experience.
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    I agree with ouch and ch0c

    As I move through my final year, reality of what being a vet is, is somewhat stark and like mentioned above, I've had multiple practioners tell me it's not too late to leave, the hours are pretty horrific and starting salary is somewhat alarming for my ~£60k of debt plus and if it wasn't for my parents topping up my loan, my debt would be even greater.
    I'm sure in a year or twos time I'll be even closer aligned with ch0cs and ouchs perspective

    I'm also going down a different route for when I qualify, I'm no longer looking to do mixed which I had romanticised since I was like 3.

    Oh and mental health support once we all leave uni = lolz.

    On the note of record numbers falling out of vet school, it's not a surprise, the number of students getting into vet school is at a all time high and is seemingly starting to grow exponentially as new and existing vet schools see the £££. With this comes the problem of people who otherwise wouldn't have got in or needed a gap year etc are now getting in
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    (Original post by Angry cucumber)
    I'm sure in a year or twos time I'll be even closer aligned with ch0cs and ouchs perspective
    I wouldn't say I'm bitter about where I am or what I am doing, and I don't regret the choices I've made.

    You do start to realise though that there is more to life than being a vet and that the profession doesn't offer the same job security and quality of life that it once did.

    You have to work a lot harder than most people think or expect to "do well" in this industry.
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    I think the main issues lies with the fact that we need to make decision so young - work experience & a level choices are made quite earlier on. As with any job, I think you don't get the full appreciation of what the job entails until you actually go out there and do it no matter how much work exp you get.

    I personally hope I'll stay within the profession. A month in and I love my job, I'm happy with my salary, albeit a little less happy with the time I finish in the evenings but still no OOHs so can't complain too much !
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    (Original post by SilverstarDJ)
    I think the main issues lies with the fact that we need to make decision so young - work experience & a level choices are made quite earlier on. As with any job, I think you don't get the full appreciation of what the job entails until you actually go out there and do it no matter how much work exp you get.

    I personally hope I'll stay within the profession. A month in and I love my job, I'm happy with my salary, albeit a little less happy with the time I finish in the evenings but still no OOHs so can't complain too much !
    Really great discussion here, and I missed it all as for some reason TSR doesn't send me notifications even though I have them set up.

    I think this is just such a multi faceted issue that it's just mind boggling - and you've all identifed some of the really key ones.

    Mental health is such a biggy cucumber - thank goodness that this is now being addressed through the RCVS Mind Matters initiative, so hopefully over the coming years this will be stepped up to where it should be - to support those working, and often struggling, in what can be an extremely challenging profession.
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    Someone's comment about work experience rang true with me too. That's why I started the thread looking at HOW potential students can get the very best from their work experience. It's so important that for such a seminal decision that you are equipped with the 'real' stuff that you need to know. 'What's it really like being a vet (not being an academic vet at a university, sorry any of you that are listening), what do you love, what do you hate, what's the lowest point - would you do it again!?' It's vital that work exp students ask the right questions, and actually get that 'real life' experience that they need to help them make that decision. Then there's the other options - and there are lots! Both before taking on the vet degree and beyond.
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    Thought that artcile was quite annoyingly uninformative. It adressed the issue, buit not much info from students perspective or numbers to put things into context.
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    (Original post by 999tigger)
    Thought that artcile was quite annoyingly uninformative. It adressed the issue, buit not much info from students perspective or numbers to put things into context.
    999tigger - why don't you write to vet times and express your thoughts? This is essence just a news article, as Vet Times is just a weekly news publication, however they are always open to suggestions and contributions for content.

    I certainly agree that ore detail would be useful, and also that some follow up on this issue is vital, rather than just parking it where it is - ie in quite a negative place.

    editorial enquiries: [email protected]
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    This might be of interest to some of you? My online learning company ONCORE has teamed up with Jenny Moffet to provide a free webinar. Details below - just register to sign up - places are limited though. If you have any questions please just message me.

    -----------------------------------
    Vet Career Planning - FREE webinar
    Speaker: Jenny Moffett BVetMed MSc Dip MarComm MRCVS
    Date & time:Wednesday 5th Oct 7pm GMT

    The webinar will be 20 minutes in duration, then there will be 10 minutes available for questions to the speaker.

    Register here: http://bit.ly/2do321C
    ----------------------------------
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    (Original post by #ChaosKass)
    Not surprising, a lot of incoming veterinary students are likely to just be animal welfare supporting hippies who aren't prepared for the scientific and surgical content of what being a vet entails.
    - that small animal / companion animal including some exotics is increasing a production line in chain clinics

    - agricultural / meat welfare is hard headed , business driven and is about production - the ultimate aim being best yield at Kill / how productive a working dog will be

    - equine is high pressure , high stakes and make or break

    - genuine exotics practice and zoo vet work is a tiny proportion

    - limited scope for specialists outside joint appointments in academia ...
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    (Original post by Jill Macdonald)
    This might be of interest to some of you? My online learning company ONCORE has teamed up with Jenny Moffet to provide a free webinar. Details below - just register to sign up - places are limited though. If you have any questions please just message me.

    -----------------------------------
    Vet Career Planning - FREE webinar
    Speaker: Jenny Moffett BVetMed MSc Dip MarComm MRCVS
    Date & time:Wednesday 5th Oct 7pm GMT

    The webinar will be 20 minutes in duration, then there will be 10 minutes available for questions to the speaker.

    Register here: http://bit.ly/2do321C
    ----------------------------------
    Thank you for starting this thread. The insight I've gained from all the replies has been both terrifying and incredibly informative. I'd hate to think that I'm one of the people who might drop out, especially since I've done a Biovet degree before. The fact that my job prospects didn't include anything with surgery was one of my main reasons for applying for vet med afterwards.

    I think it's really important that potential and current vet students find out what it's really like being a vet as soon as they possibly can. I remember last year the lecturers gave us a bit of an insight in our first week - to make sure none of us were disillusioned about the pay, or the hours, and most importantly the mental and emotional stress that we would be under. But even with all that it's still shocking (yet vital) to hear from real vets how horrible it can really be.

    Also, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing this webinar, Jenny taught me in my first year of vet med and I thought she was a great lecturer. I look forward to attending and benefiting from it.
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    I think a lot of them go into it because they love animals and would love to work helping animals in need. Problem is, they probably realise once they're in that they're going to be dealing with a lot of suffering animals first-hand which can be quite upsetting. I love animals, but I know for a fact that I wouldn't be able to cope with seeing all the injured, sick and distressed animals on a daily basis, so I have a lot of respect for vets.
 
 
 
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