Illustration of various types of animal.
“Options we can select include further practice in food producing animals, equine and small animals, as well as many ‘niche’ areas such as pigs, poultry and fish” – image ©

At the end of this month (March), my year group has to submit their choices for final year selectives.

Over the coming week we will have a number of presentations on the different options to help us decide – which will no doubt cause further confusion.

For a number of us, fear has ensued. Others (perhaps the older or postgraduate students) feel excitement as the light at the end of the tunnel seems one step closer. But for everyone, the initial introductory presentation served as a reminder that the “real world” is not that far away.

As with most things in vet school, people hear different things and rumours based on half-truths spread like wildfire. Lecturers and mentors contradict each other, with some advising you to pick options you think you’ll enjoy regardless of future career choice, while others claim you must pick specific options if you have any hope of becoming a particular type of surgeon or clinician.

The options we can select are in addition to the core final year rotations that everyone must undertake, and cover a number of areas. These include further practice in food producing animals, equine and small animals, as well as many “niche” areas such as pigs, poultry and fish.

And along with many of the selective options comes the attractive opportunity for travel.

Following the introduction to the selectives, the question “what do you want to do?” (swiftly altered to “what do want to do when you graduate?”) was thrown about, ultimately making many of us consider for the 1,000th time what we actually want to do after vet school.

During work experience, I changed my mind from farm practice to definitely-not-farm-practice, to definitely-not-only-small-animal to something involving orthopaedic surgery. However, during vet school, the idea of farm and equine has grown on me – although I understand the likelihood of finding mixed work encompassing mainly equine and farm is fairly small.

While working on a stud yard last summer, I think I changed my mind daily about equine work depending on the vet-client interactions and whether I think I could tolerate horse owners day in, day out.

Even now, the more EMS I do, the more I feel I need more experience in different areas to make an informed choice about the direction of my career.

I also do not see myself in clinical practice in the UK for a great deal of time, and instead want to work abroad and ultimately switch path to marketing and publishing. If only you could map out your life that finely and it all work out to plan…

The only thing I know for certain is that I will change my mind at least another 10 times before graduation.

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