As part of the University of Brighton’s widening participation programme, a group of Longhill High School students aged from 13 to 16 were given the opportunity to visit the Royal Veterinary College in Camden recently.
On arriving at the impressive Royal Veterinary College, the students visited one of the lecture theatres to hear about the courses on offer and were given a talk by a current student who explained what life is like as a student there. It’s certain that veterinary courses require dedication – some of them take 5 years to complete. One of the most popular courses involves learning about exotic animal species, which includes learning about their habitats and how important conservation is to stop them becoming endangered.
After lunch in the College Cafeteria, students visited one of the dissection rooms. This may sound a little unsettling, but students assured us that it was an interesting experience. Students stood on a raised viewing area, overlooking the room, to watch a dissection taking place; “It’s all treated in a very matter-of-fact and scientific way.” explained Year 9 student Spencer. “They have a clinic nearby which passes on animals that have died (with the owners’ permission of course), so that they can be studied by the students there. It’s very important to understand the anatomy of an animal if you are going to be able to give it the best possible treatment.”
In another of the College’s many classrooms, students were fascinated by the task of trying to identify different animal bones by working out which animal they came from and from which part of the animal’s body. “There were many different bird specimens on show.” Said student Laura, from Year 11. “There were skeletons of geese, swans, parakeets – all kinds of birds – so we could compare the differences between the very large and the very small.”
Laura, who hopes to study veterinary medicine, continued “It’s not just about caring for animals. By studying them you can look at how they’ve evolved, how different species relate to each other and how they might evolve in the future.”
The last visit of the day was to meet a group of calves and to learn more about these endearing creatures; as well as learning facts about the cows, students were also able to stroke them, sketch them and find their heartbeats with a stethoscope.
“It was a really interesting trip,” said Spencer, “It’s not necessarily what I want to do, but it’s given me an insight into what kind of career it is.” As for Laura’s conclusion, “It’s confirmed for me that veterinary medicine is what I want to study – and I really want to go there to do it!”
Thanks to the University of Brighton for sponsoring this visit for our students.