It is okay to feel nervous, you are entering a new environment and meeting new people. I always found it awkward as you are not sure where to place yourself. But a wise friend once told me ‘it is only awkward if you think it is‘. Sometimes we have to tell that inner voice that everything is fine and that everything will be fine.
Familiarise yourself with your surroundings and equipment – this will come in handy when it gets busy and the vet says ‘could you grab the otoscope/slide/ xxx from the other room’ and you can be helpful and resourceful/ impress the vet (and yourself) with how quickly you are able to adapt to a new place. 😎
SMILE ! Be kind to vet nurses and other staff. Remember, the vet student is at the very bottom of the food chain. 😂
Be curious and don’t be afraid to ask questions- BUT make sure you ask them at the right time (ie. not during a busy consult, in front of pet owner (discuss with vet beforehand if it is ok for you to do so)
be PROACTIVE- most vets love it when students want to learn, ask questions and engage with them! Don’t just sit and scroll on your phone/ quietly when in the car with the vets out on a call.
Be genuinely interested to help the staff, they would really appreciate it, and are more likely to let you know when interesting cases/ procedures are booked in for the week!
BACK YOURSELF – when you are asked to do a task you are not confident in doing (ie. putting an IV catheter for the 2nd time in your life), you can tell the vet what you’ve done in the past in vet school, and would like some guidance/ appreciate if they talk you through this. Remember the only way to get better at something is to actively do it!
Don’t be taken aback or go into defensive mode if/when they ask you to help do clean up work.
Context: You have done 5 years of vet school, only to be asked to clean up after a dog that peed all over the consult room/ clean the litter box of the practice resident cat. It takes a hit to your ego and you don’t want to do it in the slightest. (trust me we have all been there) Take a breath and remember that helping the vet/ vet nurse/ staff will help them help you in the future. After all, you want to get the most out of your time while at placement, so don’t sulk about it and lend a helping hand.
Obviously if they keep asking you to clean stuff and you miss out on the consults etc try and have a chat with them and politely ask if you could help them clean after you’ve observed in a procedure/ consult. Or if the vet/ vet nurse has time, try and ask them to go over bandaging or suturing patterns with you (if you find yourself hanging around with nothing much to do on a quiet day)
I personally would try and stick it out until the end as leaving the placement halfway would mean rescheduling and going through the hassle of booking more EMS. But if its reaaallly bad then you know..
You may meet some ‘mean’ vets – the ones who avoid the EMS student at all costs, do not acknowledge your existence etc.. Try not to resent them, I feel like everyone has their own reasons (busy day/ point in their lives) and we should respect their choices if they want to interact with us or not.
Similarly, you may meet some really great vets! In that case, thank them and show appreciation and gratitude for their teachings. ❤️