The hard road to vet school – is it worth it? – by Daniel Gillett

There are times in life when you wonder whether what you’re working towards is really worth it: the first time you leave work experience with a lot more on your shoes than you walked in with or that exam that simply doesn’t go your way. For me the biggest of these came before the universally dreaded interview process. It is quite incredible that with seven first impressions to make, I knew that all seven would somehow end up exactly the same: painfully nervous. As if the sheer volume of competition wasn’t enough the myriad of folders, printed factsheets and babble of memorised facts left me feeling dramatically underprepared to face the scrutiny of the professors awaiting me. There’s little worse that I’ve experienced than walking into the biggest test of your life so far madly bemoaning the fact that last night I’d been stupid enough not to look up the recommended course of treatment for renal tubular acidosis. I couldn’t help but feel that everyone else walking into the interview room knew more than I did. The pressure made me ask myself whether I really want to get on a course that required so much.

Luckily, the answer was yes.

The first reason is pretty obvious. As with any applicant, I was (and am) absolutely, unequivocally certain that I wanted to be a vet. Admittedly, however, not for all that long as I was placed on a week at a vet clinic by chance after my placement at a local newspaper fell through. I’d never been certain what I wanted to do but standing in theatre observing a patellar luxation correctional surgery clad in scrubs I had a rather sudden realisation that I finally knew the answer. From there I didn’t care if I had to get up at five in the morning to get to the nearest stables to lose toenails getting trodden on by an unruly horse and I would even ignore all the cowpat splatter on my trousers. Anything could be overcome in order to become that surgeon.

Surrey is the second reason. Not only was I shown a stunning campus and made comfortable by a plentiful supply of both friendly first years and sandwiches but the anxiety-ridden process was made considerably easier by the fact that the interviewers weren’t interested in making the interview any harder than it had to be. At each station I was made to feel increasingly more relaxed as I was coaxed towards an answer through a mixture of supportive, sympathetic smiles and invaluable leading questions. It wasn’t at all what I expected – I didn’t get a bored professor sighing at me across a boardroom table, shaking their head at every word I managed to stutter but rather a series of educators, each of whom seemed to want me, and every other applicant in the room, to succeed. I wanted to learn from those lecturers, work with those first years and live on that campus. It didn’t matter what I saw in any other university, I knew I wanted to go to Surrey.

Now only weeks ago from starting at university I can conclusively say that every step of the road has been worth it. Now I can stop asking myself the question, I can finally get excited about taking another step towards stepping into theatre one day as a fully qualified vet.