Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Guest Lecture at Aberystwyth University

Just over a year ago the Aberystwyth Animal and Veterinary Society emailed me about giving a lecture on Studying Veterinary Medicine in Europe.

I did my Animal Science degree in Aber and lots of people on my course went on to study vet med, they’ve now started a Veterinary Biosciences degree so even more students are wanting to do similar.

I basically spoke about my experiences, the four or five vet schools I’ve visited in Europe and how the degrees overlap and getting compensations.

It was great to be back in Aber but so much has changed since I lived there!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Linnaeus GDP; Dentistry and Communications

We were in Swindon this week, visiting Eastcott Vets with the Graduate Development Programme.

Ingrid one of their Residents did our Dental lectures and she's awesome. She is Italian, had a gold chain around her neck with her initials on and was really interesting to listen to. I quite like dentistry anyway but I learned a fair bit ...and answered one of her questions correctly.

The second day we were doing Confidence in the Consulting room with the VDS and it gave me anything but...
We were in groups of 15 new grads, sat around with a scenario and client (played by an actor), we were the vet and basically acted out a consult which they paused every few minutes and over-analysed every word.
I'm not usually a shy person but because there are so few vet schools in the UK, all the other new grads know each other and I'm the only European vet, which is fine 'cos I know a few of them and have made friends with the others by now; but studying abroad I've never done these scenarios before. Some of the UK grads have done these exact consults for exams and things so have textbook answers they can reel out to 'pass' the scenario.

At first when I was called out to speak I was not prepared at all and could feel myself getting stressed and flustered, which because you're being analysed, when you're aware you're flustered it makes it even worse.
I did another one in the afternoon which I felt went a lot better and I took much more from it. I did a couple of things the VDS lady running the session said she was surprised at and worked well (I think?). I've also realised I'm not great at reflecting, other new grads were really good at saying they think things went, how it made them feel etc which I guess is something they do at uni and I need to practice more.

I'm pretty comfortable consulting now and after spending a few days at work after the course I really appreciate some of the things they taught us and I've put them into use in practice but at the time I wanted the ground to swallow me up!

Monday, November 18, 2019

First solo Cesarean Section

Today I completed my first solo Cesarean Section and I am really pleased with how it went!

It is my op's day we we'd nearly finished the op's list when we got a call to say she might be coming down so had been chatting about it and getting things ready, I said I was quite excited and would like to have a go. One of the other vets did the consult, came down to the prep area and said he was going to do the op. I asked if I could do it, it was the perfect opportunity while we were quiet and had lots of people around, and because I won't be having a second vet on call with me anymore... He said No, he fancied doing it, so that was that. I thought.
The nurses jumped in and said I should really do it, perfect opportunity for me to learn etc and had my back. I was really pleased they had my back and believed I could do it!

Simon, the other vet, was around but not scubbed in and talked me through the tricky bit of milking puppies out of the uterus but otherwise the surgery went really well.

She had seven healthy puppies and all went home well at the end of the day :) 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Linnaeus Graduate Development Programme

Today was the first day of our Linnaeus Graduate Development Programme. We had a welcome mixer last night, stayed over in a hotel then headed to Willows Referrals this morning.

I did a couple weeks work experience at Willows years ago before I did any clinical training so didn’t really appreciate the facilities at the time and they’ve had a big extension since.

The GDP day was good, we met the team, spoke about the grad scheme and then did some VDS Training.

The best park of working for Mars Petcare is free chocolate on every table!

We did DISC Profiling which I’ve done with VDS a couple of times before and love - this time we did an online questionnaire and I got the same results ...High I!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Month 3 of New Grad Vet Life

It’s been a while since I updated but I’m into month three of #FirstVetJob and loving it!

I’ve settled well into practice life and really enjoy working with my team. I’ve finally got the hand of our computer system, the way everyone works and how the practice runs.
Work wise I’m happier consulting, have developed a patter and know my limits of when I need to ask for a second vets opinions. Surgically I’m much happier doing flank cat spays but have yet to tackle a bitch spay as we do quite a few laparoscopic spays in my practice so just need to get some booked in for me.

We work on an eight week rota so I did my first two Saturdays then a full weekend working and on call; followed by a week off. I went to Lisbon for the week with my brother and a friend for a well needed rest

Walking through the streets we stumbled upon a shop window with this beauty sat in it

Jen lives in the shop and spends her time in the window modelling the latest fashions

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Week 3 of New Grad Vet life

I can’t believe it’s week 3 already but I’m getting into the swing of New Grad vet working life and I’m loving it so far.

Obviously you need the obligatory vet selfie as I type this waiting for our patients to be admitted...

Last Wednesday was my first night on call last and it was luckily quiet (not meant to use the dreaded q word) with only one call for a Pug who ate a wasp!

I have two ops days a week with routine neutering and a few sedate for x-ray/ear flushes so they’ve gone well. 
Consults are what I find challenging in that I’m still getting used to the computer system, pricing things up, remembering new (to me) trade names instead of active substances and working up cases. So far they have all gone well, all the team here are happy to help when I have questions and we’re managing well!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Day One on the job

So, after 12 years of work experience documented on this blog ad 8 years of university, today I finally got to say the words:
“Hi, my names Lewis and I’m one of the vets”

I’m working at a small animal hospital in Tamworth which is pretty close to home. I was pretty nervous as I walked in but everyone was really nice so that quickly disappeared.
The morning was spent shadowing consults and then in the afternoon I started consulting, just a few vaccinations, expressing anal glands and some ear disease.

Everyone in the practice, staff and clients, have been really welcoming and supportive so while I have a lot to learn I think it will be a good environment to get started!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

RCVS Registration

Today we travelled down to London to the RCVS to register as Members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons!

Torunn and I were up super early (we're still in Student Mode okay!) and left home at 7am, drove down to a friends flat in Ealing and got the tube to Westminster from there.

Registration was nice, Harriet from our tutor group was also registering and lots of other international students. The RCVS building is soo nice, we handed in our documents, read out an oath and met a few of the staff members.

The first thing we did once we were registered as vets was head to the Natural History Museum!

Then being #veganAF we went to Mildred's in Camden for burgers and did that rank touristy thing of taking photos with our food x

Dr Volden and Dr Wescott MRCVS

Monday, July 1, 2019

Céline made it home!

Road trip complete - we've just walked in the door and I think Céline matches the decor perfectly.
Now to see how she gets on with Gary the cat!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Graduation - Class of 2019

The University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Košice Class of 2019 - Doctors of Veterinary Medicine.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Hot Bitches in Budapest

Portrait Mode photoshoot outside the Parliament building in Budapest.

We stumbled through a film set for Black Widow so if we make a cameo we'll have a book signing and do some autographs x

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Lake Balaton - Balatonfoldvar Dog Beach

We're in the middle of our Road Trip, I arrived in Kosice on Thursday, picked up the girls and the dogs and headed to Budapest. We picked up my brother and carried on to Lake Balaton - the biggest lake in Europe with a 200km shoreline!

They have a few dog beaches so we booked an AirBnB in Balatonfoldvar which also has several dog friendly restaurants and bars in the area.
The water was soo nice and warm but equally bizarre that you could walk hundreds of metres into the lake and it's still waist height!

There were so many doggos and puppers on the beach so have a cute picture of Reeya strangling this Standard puppy.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Last Soirée

Last night we had The Last Soirée, our graduation ball up at Hotel Bankov, a spa hotel a few miles outside the city.

It was so nice to have everyone together for the last time and just a lot of fun. The guys who organised it did an amazing job with the venue, we had a rolling slideshow of all our photos and they gave out awards; I was beat to Class Clown and got Mr Steal Your Girl ‘cos of a silly conference story.

We all thought the awards were hilarious and downed our drinks with pride, apart from one person who stormed out - we all know actions have consequences haha

Group 4, my rotation group...

I’ve been really lucky with my group and generally we all get on really well.
On paper you wouldn’t put us together but we have loads of big personalities, know our strengths, how to work with each other and because we don’t care what other people think we have a proper laugh together ...and I think we’re the strongest performing group in States 💃

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Diseases of Small Animals State

Meet the latest Small Animal vets...
Smalls is "that" exam everyone talks about and once you've passed it, you're pretty much set. There are four rotation blocks we have to complete with lectures, trips and clinical hours then at the end we have a State exam so being in Group 4, I had Smalls last.
The format is the same as all other States, you go in and pick your questions from an envelope (Internal, Infectious/Parasites, Reproduction, Surgery & Orthopedics) then have an hour to prepare and half an hour to speak to the panel.

The pressure was really on as it's so close to graduation that if we failed, there was only one more chance to re-sit it, a couple of days before grad. I'm infamously a last minute crammer as I need stress to study but because of how big Smalls is there's no way you can do that. I started studying 5 weeks ago, just after we finished our clinic hours, and have been working pretty hard every day.
A few days before the exam I just wanted it to be over and the worst part is not knowing which questions you'd pick as some I could talk freely off the top of my head and other questions were horrible; I'm looking at you brain tumours!
I really felt like I couldn't have worked harder so would have been gutted to fail and have to go through it all over again.

Once I got into the exam I was fine and the panel were super nice. I got lucky with my Internal and Repro questions so that was more of a chat which I was really happy with. Surgery I got Brain and Spinal trauma which I think was fine and managed to answer all of his questions, then I picked my least favourite Parasites question but managed to get through it, Halan even said he knows it's not my favourite subject as I resat it with him.

I still can't believe it's over and hasn't sunk in yet. We have our Thesis Defense over the next two weeks and then we're done - graduation.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

PDSA Graduate Programme

I applied for the PDSA Graduate Programme when it opened in March and heard last week that I was unsuccessful in getting an interview for it.
I know how competitive the programme is as a couple of friends have done it so luckily I'd applied elsewhere and have already accepted a job but I was still pretty gutted as I've done countless weeks of EMS with them for over three years.
Birmingham are taking a graduate this year so it would have been perfect as I know the team, work well with them and (I think!) they like me as they've said a few times they'd love me to work there if they had a vacancy.

The application process was the longest I've seen with four Essential and 10 Sift questions to complete about why you'd want to work for them, how you would add value, how you have approached cases in the past etc.
Successful applicants are invited to an intense interview day where you have to complete a clinical case giving differentials and a treatment plan, then a group task, and finally do a mock consult with an actor. The top people at interview are then ranked according to the number of vacancies as the top person gets priority for which hospital they work at, then working down the list.

I know they have to differentiate applicants but it just shows how difficult recruitment is when it's done by Head Office and the hospitalyou'd be working with don't have any input.
Annoyingly I can't ask for feedback, not that it really matters now but I'd be interested to know.

I got an email two weeks ago, after I'd accepted my job, from PDSA Stoke as they'd spoken to Nam one of the vets I've seen practice with for a few years and she recommended me for a job. I was shocked and delighted to get the email but it was just bad timing.
Stoke is about an hour and a half from home with no traffic so I'd have to move up there which would be difficult with a dog as I'd need to find somewhere suitable to rent and then pay for doggy daycare etc.

I explained the situation and that I was really appreciative of the offer but couldn't take it.
I could still apply if they have a vacancy in a few years time so never say never!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Veterinary Recruitment Companies

I know some people have had great experiences with recruitment companies but knowing the way they work, I chose to avoid them.

Recruitment companies advertise jobs, recruit and screen applicants then forward the CV's of suitable applicants to a practice for them to interview; for doing this they charge the practice several thousand pounds.
The great thing about this is that their websites are often a one-stop-shop where you can filter jobs by sector (Small, Farm, Academia), location and various other things. They give you an overview of what jobs are out there and can be great for finding jobs. As a practice it's handy because they screen all the applicants and present you with a couple of suitable people to interview.

Their websites rarely give details of the practice, though if you know the area you can usually work it out, as they don't want you to approach them directly and cut out the recruiters. This can make it difficult to research jobs and see if it would be a good fit for you.
This works well for many industries where there are lots of varied applicants applying for the same role like Tech, Engineering etc but I know lots of people who have been put forward for vet jobs that are completely not suitable, because the recruiter just wants their £X,000 commission.

A friend of mine who graduated last year was really excited to get several interviews, the recruiter got her really excited in that she was exactly what they were looking for and offered her all kinds of things she was specifically looking for. She travelled for interviews (which can be expensive in itself) and realised once she got there that her and the practice weren't compatible at all but the recruiter just needed the figures.
It's so easy to get caught up in the excitement of your first job interviews and they're telling you everything you want to hear that you get swept away and then it turns out to be a waste of everyone's time.

I naively gave my email address to one recruitment company (it's common for exhibitors to scan your conference badge to enter their competitions etc) at BSAVA Congress in 2017 and once they had my details I got weekly emails and a couple of phone calls as they'd found the perfect job for me, in far flung regions of the UK ...I wasn't even applying for jobs back then!
I asked them to stop, which they did for a while, but then they picked up again when one of their employees set up his own company and stole my details and those of several others I know.
Clearly a breach of GDPR and it ended up going to the ICO but that's a whole other story...

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Feeding time for Františka

Torunn my Norwegian friend came down to feed Františka with me today and took a few photos so thought I'd chuck them up here.

Tiška is still like marmite - she is amazing, easy to work with and great for introducing new people to birds of prey ...but she can also be stroppy sometimes and is baity (tries to fly off the glove when she's being held) which can be really frustrating!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

New Foster Pup

I've joked about getting a Pug for a few years as they're equal parts ridiculous and cute but obviously with the #BreedToBreathe campaign and problems associated with brachycephalics I wouldn't actually buy one.

This little girl was posted on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, she's 8 months old and has been kept in a crate all her life so she's underweight and in need of a foster...

I messaged my housemates who agreed to help me for a few weeks and here she is;
Lilo arrived last Friday

She's super cute and playful. We're feeding her up so she's gone from 6.5kg when the charity got her to just over 8kg now.
Breathing-wise she isn't too bad as brachycephalics go, she has a nose and her nostrils aren't too stenotic but she still snores like a trooper!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Orthopaedic Surgery classes

Today we started our surgery practical classes which is pretty exciting as it’s one of my favourite subjects.

We started off with a lecture where they describe a procedure and then we practice performing the procedure on cadavers. We got to do fracture repairs with normograde and retrograde IM pinning, cerclage wires and plates.

All the best orthopaedic surgeons get their gloves stuck drilling IM pins 👨🏻‍⚕️🤦🏻‍♂️

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Night shift with Gala

We have an American Staffordshire Bull Terrier in with us tonight as she was attacked by her daughter.
She has extensive wounds to her leg and an ulcer on her chest wall so that's all been cleaned and she's on pain relief. She's really timid at first but once we spent a bit of time with her she was bouncing around the room and playful outside - still not keen on seeing other dogs though!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Small Animal Hospital night shift

As part of our rotation block we have to do shifts in the Small Animal Hospital so we've done a week of 12hour days and tonight I'm on a night shift with Harriet.

We've been pretty Q-word (you're forbidden from saying it in practice as if it's muttered you just know an emergency will come in) so just looking after inpatients, given a few meds and taken everyone outside to pee.

We had a few hours sleep and got up at 5am to check on everyone and take them out again.

Friday, March 29, 2019

First job interview

I had my first proper job interview for a graduate veterinary job with Vets4Pets this afternoon and I think it went really well.

I was a bit undecided about what to wear as I'm not really a formal kinda guy and I know people have been asked to jump into consults and stuff during longer interviews. I wore chinos, a smart jumper and brown leather shoes but I guess if anyone is in the same position and wondering, chinos and a shirt would have been fine.

The clinic is about an hour away so I got there with plenty of time (over half an hour early), grabbed a coffee from the petrol station around the corner and then arrived bang on time.
The staff were great, I was waiting in Reception for a few mins at the start so chatted to an elderly man in the waiting room; his dog was in surgery and he was as nervous as I was!

The actual interview was pretty relaxed. We chatted about my unusual route into Vet Med, the JVP grew up in the same town as me and then just a bit about their set up and how they're linked to a couple of other clinics in the area.

Their website doesn't really give much away as it's all "Coming soon" but I was really impressed with the facilities. They have endoscopy and do lap spays as standard which is something I'd love to learn (and not mentioned on the website so an added bonus), dental x-ray as standard and three consult rooms. Downstairs is a bit cramped but upstairs isn't used to there's room for expansion up there to free up space.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

A week of interviews

I'm back in the UK this week as we had our Pigs State last week so have a bit of time off and it coincides nicely with BSAVA Congress.

I've had a few phone interviews over the last of couple months and luckily been offered five job interviews in a variety of practices (Vets4Pets, IVC, CVS and an independent) which I've managed to book while I'm home.
Once I'd got a couple of interviews I was happy, then I was offered a couple more which I couldn't really turn down as I've only recently applied! I think it will be good to attend them all to see how the different practices work, interview and what they have to offer ...I'm never one to turn down an opportunity!

Five interviews sounds like a lot but I've been quite picky with the practices and would be happy to work at any of them; they all have good facilities, lots of surgery and well qualified teams who I think I could learn a lot from.
The teams range from 3 vets & 3 nurses to 22 vets & 32 nurses so they'd be very different clinics to work in so we shall see what gets offered...

First interview is tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Diseases of Pigs State Exam

We’ve just sat our penultimate exam of vet school, the Diseases of Pigs State Exam.

After a month off for Christmas and a pretty chilled rotation block I found it hard to get back into study mode but in classic Lewis style I crammed it all and passed - with an A!

Monday, March 18, 2019


It's been a long time since I've posted about falconry, mainly just because it's a normal part of my life now and I forget to take photos!

I needed a photo of falconry equipment for my Diploma Thesis so who better to use than Františka...
Female Harris’ Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus shown hooded and tethered to a falconry glove with anklets, dacron jesses, swivel and leash

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Castle Sundays: Šariš Castle

Back once again with Castle Sundays and this time we visited Šariš Castle above the town of Velky Šariš near Prešov, about a 40 minute drive from Košice - I don't think I've ever typed so many š's in one sentence before!
Céline got a bit car sick but we were prepared with bags so nothing to clean up this week.
The castle was about a 45 minute walk from the car park and is 570m above sea level so pretty decent views from up there.

Once again we had Annica the photographer who got some awesome shots of the dogs
Céline on top of the totem pole
Winnie and Céline posing on a bench
and my favourite, Henry on Kolin who is trying his hardest to smile

Apparently there wasn't enough castle in last weeks Castle Sundays so we tried...

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Last day on the uni farm

We’ve reached the end of an era, Group 4's last day at Zemplinska Teplicka the university farm.
We started off vaccinating and castrating a load of piglets and then did pregnancy diagnosis of sows and vaccinated some bigger animals.
The very last pig to vaccinate was the big boar so a few of the girls went in to do it together. As soon as he stood up they ran away scared so I (pretending to be) confidently walked in and (absolute fluke!) managed to do it first time.

One of the teachers was watching us and said I was excellent so I asked if it deserved an A in the State exam 😂

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Castle Sundays: Obišovce Castle

Slovakia has the highest number of castles per person in the world so it's only right that we visit a few...
Today we had a family day out to Obišovce Castle with five of the dogs, all from the shelter, including Nathan the puppy who is up for adoption.

Annica look these photos and I can't get over how cute they are!
Kolin, Henry and Céline...

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

World Spay Day 2019

Today is the 25th anniversary of World Spay Day, held on the last Tuesday of February to raise awareness of the importance of neutering and the work that rescue centres and charities do.

Last year we held a Charity Bake Sale on campus to raise money and awareness, so did the same again this year. WVS ITC Ooty are trying to raise 30,000 rupees for an Oxygen Generator so I'm hoping the money we raise can go towards that!

Celine was an angel and greeted people to the sale with cuddles and even shared her special biscuits with visiting doggos.

Overall we raised €205 which is great going and will support WVS with the work they do.