Current 2nd year Veterinary Student Tharsicaa gives you a peak inside the great adventures of Pre-Clinical placements in the Graduate Entry Level Veterinary Medicine Program.

Hi again! The integrative learning approach is one of the many great things about UCD’s Veterinary Medicine program. Both the Graduate Entry Level and Undergraduate Veterinary Medicine programs consist of pre-clinical and clinical extra mural studies (EMS) which allows for integrative learning through placements that complement your studies here at UCD. The pre-clinical EMS placements aim to provide students with a better understanding of the animal species, animal handling and husbandry. More commonly, students will organize these placements themselves, so for international students like myself this gives you a great opportunity to undergo a placement back in your home country even.

Students are expected to complete pre-clinical EMS placements with sheep, dairy cattle, beef cattle, horses, pigs and companion animals. At the end of your second year in the graduate program, you will have a short handling exam at UCD’s Lyons Research Farm which gives you an opportunity to demonstrate what you know about these different species and that you can safely and appropriately work with them. Here, I want to share with you a few of my experiences during my pre-clinical placements.

The very first placement I did was with sheep in a beautiful town called Buncrana up in County Donegal. The family that owned the sheep farm were very welcoming and provided me with such a great hands on learning opportunity. There were a few students who I had the pleasure of meeting and working with during my time there, so we worked in shifts to help the ewes with lambing. For those of you who don’t know, lambing is simply the birth of sweet and cute lambs. I was first nervous because I had very little background with sheep but on my very first day on the farm everything just flowed naturally and I learned on the go. The farmer was unbelievably encouraging in giving us all the chances to help with the lambing ourselves and often on our own. My first “delivery” was this sweet little guy who will forever stay in my heart – I named him Mouse. I can still remember how nervous, frustrated and fearful I was in not being sure if I was actually helping this ewe give birth. But the moment I got hold of one little front leg I felt only determination and perseverance to help Mouse enter this world safely and alive. One leg at a time, he was here and I could feel my entire life’s dream in becoming a Veterinarian move 100 miles closer to being real.

There were so many memorable events that I was lucky to experience at this placement. My next placement was at a Dairy farm back home in Canada. As you may have already guessed – I became attached to the little calves I met there too. The days started off with feeding all the different calf groups and ended in the milking parlour with all the dairy cows and heifers. My favourite little girl Pebbles was with me from day 1 as I lead her from her calf hutch into the group pen by letting her suckle on my fingers and move with me. There wasn’t a single day after that where she didn’t try to suckle on my hands every time she saw me. I absolutely loved it and I sure heard an earful from the farmers about spoiling her. The days at the dairy farm were quite labour intensive as I helped out in the milking parlour, luckily I was only there for one milking shift out of three each day. I warn you in advance, the heifers are always feistier.


I also decided to complete my equine placement in Canada as well at a riding school. I was quite unfamiliar with horses so a riding school where the horses had steady temperaments and were always being handled was a great opportunity to become more comfortable working with them. It was rewarding being able to apply the knowledge you gain from the program. I was able to become more confident handling a horse, practice learning the points of a horse and even administering oral medications safely. Each horse was so unique and showed a different personality, so it took patience, knowledge and a lot of understanding to read these personalities and learn how to approach and handle each horse. I loved starting my days seeing Cash, a gorgeous boy with a buoyant personality. He loved eating grass right out of your hand even when he had a mouthful of water and he always made sure to say thank you with a kiss.

You’ll find that a lot of your EMS placements will become stepping-stones into the world of Veterinary Medicine. They will be memorable and rewarding and as a graduate student here at UCD, I couldn’t be more thankful these placements are incorporated into the Veterinary Medicine program.

If you are interested in studying Veterinary Medicine or Graduate Entry Veterinary Medicine you can find out more about our courses here.