For anyone considering Veterinary Medicine on their CAO Application at the moment 4th Year veterinary medicine student Evie Moloney explains why she decided to do the course and what her first few years were like.

Hi, I’m Evie, I’m a UCD Student Ambassador and a fourth-year veterinary medicine student in University College Dublin!

UCD is the only college in Ireland to offer the Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine degree. For anyone thinking about the nursing side of veterinary there is also a veterinary nursing degree on offer in UCD too.. Both the veterinary medicine and the veterinary nursing courses are taught in the Veterinary Science Centre in UCD, with the final year of both courses concluding with a year of rotations in UCD’s Veterinary Hospital, which is adjacent to the Veterinary Science centre.

College Work

The first two years of the veterinary medicine course focus on preclinical material, with lectures and practicals in subjects including basic structure and function, histology (microscopic examination of animal tissues), reproduction, animal husbandry, genetics and comparative anatomy. My favourite aspect of these preclinical years were the trips to Lyon’s Research Farm in Co. Kildare where we had the opportunity to apply some of this knowledge in a hands-on setting!

Following from this are the clinical study years, where learning is more structured with the aim of developing skills and knowledge for our final year of rotations, with modules in parasitology, pharmacology, microbiology, pathology and the clinical aspects of subjects like surgical techniques, dermatology, reproduction, anaesthesia and critical care of patients. As part of the veterinary medicine course, there is a requirement to complete 12 weeks of pre-clinical placement in the first two years of the course (mostly on farms and in animal shelters) and then 24 weeks of clinical placement (supervised by a qualified veterinary surgeon) before graduating in final year. These placements help develop day one competencies and get everyone up to the same standard of animal handling, regardless of their previous experience.

UCD college year is broken up into semesters which means you study 4-6 modules (subjects) for 12 weeks, then have a revision week followed by two weeks of exams before breaking for Christmas and then starting on a new set of module the following semester right up until the summer break. This has the wonderful bonus of meaning that because our exams are before Christmas break, the holidays are thus, a study free period! Allowing for guilt free catching up on sleep and getting in some placement time too.

Home for Christmas and free from exams!

Trips to Lyons Research Farm

Lyon’s Research Farm in Co. Kildare is UCD’s very own offsite farm, a facility supporting education and research in the main animal and crop agricultural enterprises for agricultural and veterinary students, researchers and alumni alike.

In the first two years of the veterinary medicine course, we made regular visits to Lyon’s Farm where we learned practical skills and techniques such as cattle and sheep restraint, husbandry and housing principles, and even taking our first steps into the real veterinary world learning to dose cattle with wormers and drenches, dehorning calves, and how to safely administer injections and take blood samples from various farm animal species. Apart from offering an environment to learn and hone new skills, these farm visits give a real “beyond the classroom” experiential learning opportunity, and the opportunity to pet some cute calves too is always a bonus!

Outside the classroom

There is often the belief that on entering into a course like veterinary medicine there will be nothing but study, study, study. Yet the reality is that UCD’s veterinary medicine course is one of the most closely knit, diverse and social communities in UCD. Throughout the academic year there are a huge variety of educational talks, tea mornings, trips away and social events which provide the perfect study break and really enrich our overall college experience.

Your first year in college can be a really daunting prospect, especially if you are coming from a small secondary school. My own memories of the first few weeks  in college however, are very, very fondly remembered. We have our very own college society in veterinary called Vetsoc, who are responsible for organising many of the events which ensure that your first dip into UCD life is as enjoyable and as fun as possible! For the first four Wednesdays of college in September there are first year mixer nights  with the second, third, fourth- and fifth-year students, which is a great opportunity to get to know the older years and even pick up some studying and college life tips!

Bake Sale in aid of the Peter McVerry Trust!

Our wonderful student advisor for veterinary, Niamh Nestor, is always on hand to ensure that each student is happy and content in the course. Niamh keeps a constant supply of sweets and tea in her office for anyone needing advice, support or just wanting a chat over a brew.  She also runs several coffee mornings, especially in the run up to exams to help dissipate away any hint of the exam stress. Not only does she provide this constant support and care throughout the academic term, but as week 12 rolls around each semester, bringing with it an increased workload of material to cover before exams, Niamh can be found rolling out yoga mats, beanbags and relaxing music to create her Unwind and Nap Room in the vet building. This space allows students to take some time away from the books and destress. The Nap Room is beloved by all vet students, and after a tough day of exams it is exactly what is needed to refresh for studying for the next exam and even catch up on some missed sleep!

UCD Veterinary also has its own lunchtime crafting and knitting group “Purl Jam” organised by Niamh, which embodies a creative relaxing environment where ideas and skills are shared between staff and students alike while enjoying a cuppa and even some baked goods too.

Some other social events throughout the year include the annual Mystery tour (involving busing it into the unknown in full fancy dress with your classmates) and taking a coastal jaunt away from studies for the weekend for the surf trip. The highlight of the social calendar is the Vet Ball, held after Christmas break. The ball usually takes a theme each year, last year was masquerade, and is a lovely evening where the vet students get fancy in their best finery to dinner and dance the night away!

 

Find out more about the Veterinary Medicine course at UCD at https://www.myucd.ie/courses/veterinary-medicine/

 

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