Mind your head!

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Mental heath in farming is a topic that is being promoted this week by the Mind Your Head campaign. The aim being to raise awareness of the pressure farmers are under and impact it has on mental health. To support this campaign and raise money for the DPJ Charity Matt, along with his brother in law George, will be climbing 9 of the highest peaks in the UK. Day one will involve climbing three of the highest peaks in the Lake District, day two will involve three Welsh peaks including Snowdonia, day three will end on Scotland in the top of Ben Nevis.

Farming can be a tough job; you are constantly at the mercy of the weather and disease however most farmers will tell you they couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Farm vets are often the people that see the highs and lows of the farming year. It is important to remember we are still tacking diseases like Bovine TB. Vets are often delivering bad news; cows that tests positive for Bovine TB it must be sent to slaughter. For farmers this is a heartbreaking event as most farmers know each and every one of the cows on their and think of most of them as friends, if not family (as silly as this may sound).

What can you do to support your local farm?
If you know a farmer who may be having a tough time take timeout and spend half an hour having a cup of tea and a chat. We are big believers in the saying “a problem shared is a problem halved”. There are lots of charities ready to help out those who are struggling and their details can be found at the bottom of this post. Other things you can do to support UK farmers are:

  • Find you local milkman. The local milkman is making a come back! Not only do they supply consumers with British milk which is coming from local farms (so it hasn’t travelled country wide before it reaches your fridge) and is often delivered in glass bottle which supports the increasing movement to cut down on our plastic consumption.

  • Try not to judge what you see online. With the increasing popularity of social media farming seems to be one of the many sectors coming under fire. It is easy to see an image and think the worst however it is important to remember that these images are often taken out of context. If you are worried about anything you see online; speak to a farmer and find out more. Most farmers are happy to tell people about their farm, they actually love to have visitors and speak to people who are interested, so make sure next time you see something your uncomfortable with or confused by interact with your local farmer and ask the question.

  • Buy local/ British produce- British farmers work incredibly hard to ensure that British meat, eggs, and milk is produce by high welfare, healthy and happy animals. By buying British you support the great work our farmers and doing and pump money back into the British economy- its a win win! :)


Charities that can help those who are struggling:

  • RABI (Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution
    Website: https://rabi.org.uk
    Helpline: 08082819490

  • Tir Dewi
    Website: http://www.tirdewi.co.uk/en/homepage-1/
    Helpline: 08002124722

  • DPJ Foundation
    Website: http://www.thedpjfoundation.com
    Helpline: 08005874262

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Advice for Veterinary Medicine applicants (and parents!)

Applying to vet school can be an overwhelming process for both parents and students. However these are some bits of advice that may help you during the process :)

Top tips for students applying to Veterinary Medicine:

  • Start at the bottom and work your way up. Many student become frustrated that they cannot secure any work experience at vets practices; however learn the basics of animal husbandry and then try again. Go to work in a cattery, kennels, stables or farm and learn how a normal animal looks and how to handle animals before approaching the vets. Once you have done this ask the people you have been working with what vets they use to treat their animals and if they would be happy to write you a letter of recommendation. Obtaining a placement on recommendation is ofter a lot quicker and easier than writing heaps of emails to people you don’t know.

  • Always think about both sides of every argument. There are lots of controversial topics in veterinary medicine and farming and it is important that throughout work experience you try and consider both. For example: an owner ask your to put a healthy dog to sleep without expanding on the reason why. Now most peoples immediate reaction would be to ‘I don’t want to put this animal to sleep, i’m going to rehome it'- which is very reasonable however it is important to delve deeper into the topic. Often people want to put animal to sleep because they have shown signs of aggression (which can be due to pain, changes in environment or it can be genuine aggression) or the owner has had a change in circumstances and can no longer afford to keep the animal. It is also worth considering what will happen to the animal if you refuse to put it to sleep; will the owner let it out onto the streets out of desperation? Doing this on work experience will help you prepare for the ethical and welfare questions that may come up during interview.

  • Write a work experience dairy. When you are on work experience you can recall situations clearly however a year later at your vet school interview it may not be as easy. Make sure you write down your experiences and try and reflect on them. When you go home look up diagnoses that you have seen the vet give during the day and make sure you have a good understanding; this will make it much easier to recall during interviews.

  • Writing a personal statement for veterinary medicine can be difficult. Before you start typing write down a list of characteristics that makes a good vet- e.g.: empathetic, able to prioritise, good communicator. Make sure that throughout your statement you are giving examples of you demonstrating these characteristics whilst on work experience or within day to day life. Avoid listing what work experience you have completed; the people reading you application will be reading you work experience form and will not appreciate reading the same thing twice.

Advice for parents who’s son/daughter is applying to Veterinary Medicine:

  • Make sure all the deadlines are on the calendar. During A levels students are often so busy completing work experience, homework and writing their applications they sometime forget to double check submission dates. Make sure the UCAS application date (which is earlier for veterinary medicine applicants than normal UCAS applicants) and the due date for work experience forms is in bold on the calendar. Missing the deadline for the work experience forms can often result in the application being immediately dismissed so make sure they are in on time to avoid disappointment.

  • UCAS, UCAS, UCAS… UCAS is portal in which student submit their applications to vet school. You can make 5 applications though UCAS however only 4 of these can be for Veterinary Medicine. This may seems silly however the 5th application should be for a subject with lower entry requirements; this means that if your son/daughter does not achieve the grades for Veterinary Medicine on results day they still have the opportunity to complete a degree elsewhere. If Veterinary Medicine is the ONLY subject your son/daughter will consider it is worth looking at the pre-vet courses that run at some of the universities; these are a year long course that lead onto a Veterinary Medicine degree and can often count as the 5th (non Veterinary Medicine) UCAS application.

  • Visit the universities. Vet schools are very different in their set up with each school having their strengths and weaknesses. It is important to try and have a look at the ones your son or daughter is planning on applying for; the last think you want is to turn up for an interview and dislike the location or the people.

We are happy to give help and advice to both patents and students regarding applications; if you would like some help please get in touch via contact page. If you are interested in gaining equine and farm animal veterinary work experience make sure you take a look at our Pre-Vet course running throughout August 2019.

Good luck with your applications :)