Most undergraduate courses are called ‘Tripos’ here at Cambridge, and when students start the Veterinary Medicine course, they will be undertaking study which forms the Medical and Veterinary Science Tripos (MVST). The MVST is the pre-clinical course for students wishing to become doctors or vets. During this course, students receive their lecture and practical teaching in the university departments - either as a vet-only group, alongside natural scientists, or medical students.
I cannot emphasise enough what a wonderful opportunity the supervisions have been.
In the first two years (Parts IA and IB) some of the constituent courses are taken in common by both sets of students, while some are parallel. In the first two years of the course, the colleges consolidate and amplify student learning by the provision of 'supervisions' - teaching sessions for small groups of two to four students, highlighting areas of clinical relevance in the veterinary course.
After the first two years, students will progress into their third year (Part II year), which is similar to intercalated courses offered by other universities, during which they pursue a subject of their choice for a whole year. This year gives Cambridge veterinary students an unparalleled and exciting opportunity to work with researchers at the cutting edge of their field, and they often also carry out an in-depth research project of their own. Most vet students study a biological subject - ranging from palaeontology to developmental neuroscience to the history and philosophy of science - but non-scientific subjects may occasionally be chosen, such as Management Studies.
At the end of the third year, vet students receive a full Cambridge BA degree equivalent to that awarded to Natural Scientists - and having such a qualification from the world's premier science university can prove invaluable in their later career. This is why the Cambridge course is one year longer than the other UK veterinary schools, and you should bear in mind that this is the most distinctive feature of the Cambridge course.
For more information about the preclinical years of the course (i.e. years 1 to 3), please go to the following link: http://www.biology.cam.ac.uk/undergrads/mvst
The myths that in Cambridge you don't get to touch an animal until your fourth year are completely wrong! It's only the end of my first term and I have already had real live animal handling with so many different species.
Following the third year, graduate students progress into the fourth year of the course, which is the start of the three clinical years of study. During this time, the course gradually transforms from a lecture/practical system to a final year which is entirely taken up by rotations in various clinical fields (e.g. small animal orthopaedics, farm animal medicine, equine surgery).
During the clinical course, students should be aiming to develop several broad areas, such as
- Basic knowledge of veterinary science
- Transferable skills such as the ability to write clearly and concisely on scientific veterinary subjects, to communicate to colleagues and lay people
- Professional skills such as the ability to control a fractious animal, give an intravenous injection and auscultate a chest
- A professional attitude and behavior in everything that they say and do
Examples of material covered in the clinical course are given below.
4th year (clinical year one):
Integrated body systems including alimentary and respiratory systems, pathology and basic medicine
Veterinary Public Health
Practical sessions including equine clinical studies, radiography classes, farm animal clinical examination
5th year (clinical year two):
Integrated body systems including cardiology, endocrinology and neurology
Equine medicine, surgery and orthopaedics
Practice & business management
Practical sessions including equine cardiology, visits to the RSPCA clinic, bovine foot care and Ophthalmology classes
6th year (clinical year three, lecture free):
Farm Animal Studies
Small Animal Medicine, including oncology, clinical pathology and Neurology
Small Animal Orthopaedic Surgery
Radiology and Anaesthesia
Out of Hours duties
Elective study (a project of the student’s own choosing)
An important part of the veterinary course is Extra-Mural Studies (EMS). The objective of pre-clinical EMS, undertaken during vacations in years 1-3, is to give students experience in United Kingdom farming enterprises involving livestock, and also experience of working with and handling other domestic animals, particularly horses. Such experience includes handling, housing, feeding, breeding, work routines, health problems and preventive measures for a variety of animal species. This will provide an important and necessary background for future clinical studies.
The small groups in final year rotations are absolutely fantastic for one-on-one teaching with experts in their field and the best value for tuition fee money I can imagine.
Clinical EMS, undertaken during vacations in years 4-6, is to provide each student with practical veterinary experience. It exposes students to the ethical, financial, business and inter-personal realities of professional practice and gives an appreciation of other veterinary work and career opportunities. By allowing a flexible approach, it is hoped that every student will have the opportunity to practise a wide range of veterinary and communication skills within a variety of different practice situations.
At the end of the six years, students are awarded the degree of Vet MB and thereby membership of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (and the ability to work as a vet in the UK, EU and most of the Commonwealth).