Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Gaining Veterinary Work Experience in South Africa

Veterinary medicine is a competitive field to get involved in, and in order to get onto courses you must demonstrate more than academic ability. Getting some veterinary work experience under your belt is a great way to show that you are serious about your subject and keen to take on extra study to develop your skills and gain further experience outside the confines of the course.

South Africa is one of the most exciting places to embark on veterinary work experience; there are excellent companies offering students the chance to get involved in organised courses that accommodate all of the EMS (extra mural studies) criteria, while aiming to provide an in-depth taste of real life vet work. Working in South Africa, with some of the world's most incredible animals is a real privilege and will be an experience that will stay with you always. Under the guidance of expert vets you will have opportunities to work out in the field and in the medical centres, and you will also be invited to attend talks and learn about the conservation efforts, the delicate ecosystems and the animal research that goes on behind the scenes.

What You Will Be Able to Get Involved In

Your veterinary work experience course in South Africa is very much a hands on programme and both practical and theoretical aspects are covered. One of the major centers offering excellent veterinary work experience courses is Shamwari, which hosts a comprehensive Vet Eco Experience course.

In South Africa the procedures you will be involved in will be very different from what you have been exposed to back in the UK. One of the main jobs of a vet in Africa is to dart animals in order to capture them for tagging, and immobilizing game for necessary procedures. The rhino is one of the most important animals that the vets are working with. Ear tagging of these animals is vital for current behavioral research and immobilizing them allows vets to take samples and glean vital DNA information, which is used for ongoing projects. Students on this course will learn how to dart and have plenty of practice perfecting their aim. Other large animals, such as the lion, elephant and giraffe are also immobilized, so their well-being can be monitored and they can have any required drugs administered.

Wild animals in South Africa have suffered the plight of having their land encroached by humans and now, with the lean towards conservation and protection of animal habitat, a juggling act has ensued. Big conservation efforts are underway to restore the balance and this involves the translocation of some animals, particularly the antelope species. Students will be involved in mass capture of these beasts and helping to relocate them to more suitable areas.

There are so many other fascinating parts of the veterinary work experience course, including helping with emergency procedures, conducting post mortems and collecting data for game monitoring. Participants will spend time in the breeding centre learning about the efforts underway, and get out with the tracking specialist to learn about the telemetry tracking initiatives used to track the cheetah, amongst others.

There is no substitute for experience and your time in Africa will stand you in great stead when applying for a veterinary medicine course. If you are already on a university course, this trip to Africa will be a worthwhile addition to your studies and demonstrate your willingness to learn more.

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