BHS Veterinary Student Champion: Mariella Savage – Review of Year Two
My second year as a vet student has yet again flown by, and while this year academically has been more challenging, I have absolutely loved it. This year, we have been building on our knowledge of animal anatomy and physiology learnt in our first year by learning all that can be ‘abnormal’ in the body systems of domestic species. This has included parasites, bacterial, fungal and viral infections, trauma to bones, tendons and ligaments as well as congenital, acquired and autoimmune diseases.
Whilst this year has covered all domestic animals, as well as some exotic species, the equine side of our studies has once again interested me. Learning in detail about the pathogenesis behind many common ailments I had previously heard of, for example worm infections, colic, laminitis and Sweet Itch (to name a few!), has now helped me understand these conditions in greater detail. As well as becoming aware of major equine infectious diseases in the UK, for example Equine Influenza, we have also studied those affecting equids abroad, for example African Horse Sickness, Equine Infectious Anaemia and West Nile Virus. Although these diseases may not seem a threat to the lives of our horses and ponies in the UK at the moment, the increasing transportation of horses globally, as well as increasing temperatures due to global warming, may see a rise in incidences of these diseases recorded in unexpected areas. Therefore it is really important that we, as upcoming vets, are made aware of these exotic diseases.
Practically, we have furthered our independence and skills in the laboratories, examining specimens both grossly and under microscope, as well as carrying out our first post mortems in May. Although last year this would have been an area that would have intimidated me, the support from the laboratory staff and assisting lecturers has been fantastic throughout these weekly practical’s, guiding us carefully on the correct techniques and approaches to specimens.
We have also been fortunate to have had many external lecturers regularly teaching us, sharing their experiences and knowledge on specialist subjects. These include professionals from Fitzpatrick referrals, DEFRA, Pirbright Institute, as well as specialist doctors from NHS hospitals. It has been interesting to compare human medicine to veterinary, and how the two professions can benefit and learn from each other. In February, the students at Surrey Vet School were also fortunate to have Dr John Burford from the University of Nottingham give an informative and insightful talk on colic which also focussed on the joint BHS and Nottingham REACT campaign. The presentation provided students with information not only on the different types of colic, their causes and potential treatments, but also how to recognise the clinical signs and advise owners on how to deal with this stressful condition.
The British Horse Society has once again given me fantastic opportunities this year. I have written facts for both BHS’ e-news and British Horse magazine on the latest research for Sweet Itch, strongyles worms and horses’ lack of gall bladders. I was given the fantastic opportunity to speak with students at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May as a part of the BHS’ Changing Lives through Horses programme. It was great to meet and talk to students aged 7-16 about the career options of a vet and getting into vet school, but also about other areas of the equine industry they may be interested to work in.
I am really looking forward to my third year as we will start to look at the clinical and treatment approaches to all the diseases and conditions we have learnt over the past two years. I would like to thank The British Horse Society once again for giving me all the opportunities as the BHS’ Veterinary Student Champion over the past year, and I am looking forward to continuing the role next year.