I’ve always stressed the importance of keeping up with current affairs during the lead up to interviews. I think this is particularly evident considering I have an entire section of this website dedicated to it but unfortunately my time is limited and although I would love to write about everything I read, it would just be WAY too time consuming. I therefore tend to focus on the topics that I think are most likely to come up, and a couple of things I come across for one reason or another, but there is so much I read about that I just don’t have the time to cover everything – I am aiming to graduate at some point afterall!
First I would like to assure you that pretty much anything you read will be useful. In early 2008 I read an article in National Geographic about chameleons modifying the amount of energy they expend on camouflage depending on the sensory capabilities of any predators they know are in the area. Though animal related, this may sound totally irrelevant when it comes to veterinary interviews but I actually referenced this article in my Edinburgh interview only a few weeks later. To be honest, I can’t remember why it came up but I do remember that the interview changed direction at this point and we started a great conversation about clever adaptations within the animal kingdom. No, it’s not veterinary related but that doesn’t mean that it’s not relevant, or interesting! I didn’t mention the article deliberately because I thought it would actually make any difference in my interview but in doing so, I actually managed to portray my passion in a way that was natural. Bearing this in mind, don’t be afraid to read the subjects that interest you even if you can’t see the relevance at first glance. If it interests you it will never be wasted time!!
One of the best places to start is just by keeping an eye on the newspapers. These probably won’t give you detail that you’re looking for but they will give you an idea of things you might want to look into. Generally speaking though, if something is in the newspaper the likelihood is that I will write about it in the ‘Veterinary Current Affairs section of this website so I would always suggest you keep an eye on here.
I’d also suggest you join twitter! Twitter is a fountain of knowledge. Yes, sometimes you have to sift through the reams of nonsense but this is just done by only following the people you can trust to give you accurate information. I’d like to think that an obvious place to start is by following me, and if anyone is tempted you can find me at @C_A_Harris. Otherwise, or additionally, I’d suggest you follow MRCVS (@MRCVSOnline) for starts. Their bio really says it all – “Providing the veterinary profession with the latest news, comments and information”.
Another great account to keep an eye on is the Animal Welfare Foundation account, which you can find at @AWF_Vets. The Animal Welfare Foundation “works to improve animal welfare through science, education and debate” and is run by vets. During the year they visit all of the vet schools in turn and do talks and run debates on welfare topics which, as you can probably guess, could provide the universities with inspiration for the next round of interviews. I have certainly seen a correlation between the topics of these debates and the subjects that have come up at interviews!
For those of you that are lucky enough to own tablets, I strongly suggest you get an app called ‘Flipboard’. It’s basically an interface that allows you to access all the articles written in a particular category all in one place. You can even search topics and it will bring up all of the articles on that subject with the most recent displayed first. A lot of news websites also run their own boards so you can access all of their articles in real time as they are published. The majority of you will also regularly spend time at a vet practice or two.
It is unlikely that your vet will have enough time to keep you up to date with everything that is going on but try and make the most of any time you spend in the car with your vet. Other than this, make sure you take the time to look over any magazines they have lying around. Most vets will receive The Vet Record, The Veterinary Times and In Practice. My suggestion is that your first port of call should be In Practice. This covers issues that you are most likely to see in small animal practice and things that you may therefore be expected to be aware of at interview. Remember, they don’t expect you to be an expert with is why I am not suggesting you go for The Vet Times or The Vet Record but In Practice tends to give a more general view of a topic and isn’t so complicated that you will feel totally out of your depth. I attempted to read The Vet Record before I went to uni and I remember being really overwhelmed by the technicalities so please don’t make the same mistake I did. It will be a waste of your time when you are most busy!
I’m sorry that I have to write this post as I wish I could write about everything I read but as final year hits, although I intend to carry on as normal, it is going to become more and more difficult and, as always, I just want to give all of you the best chance I can. Of course I will continue to post articles on my twitter and keep this website up to date so don’t worry, I’m not abandoning you!
And, as always, if you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask! I answer all e-mails as soon as possible after I receive them.