A Day in the Life: A young vet whose travelled the world to save animals

Caring for animals was always a passion for Corstorphine’s Erin Thomson, 25, who works for the PDSA in Dundee

Friday, 24th January 2020, 5:07 pm
Updated Friday, 24th January 2020, 5:13 pm
Erin Thomson works for the PDSA in Dundee    picture: Supplied
Erin Thomson works for the PDSA in Dundee picture: Supplied

‘I always wanted to be a vet, but I decided for certain when I was 15. Even in Primary, I knew I liked animals a lot but it was about taking the plunge, picking the subjects and getting work experience in local vets on weekends and during holidays.

“When you go to vet school you have to do about 26 weeks of work experience during your holidays and that really helps with building your confidence. If you wanted to get work experience during the holidays, it could be difficult, exams were a constant stress and the fact that you do not get a grant or paid when carrying the work out is tough.

“I’d say it’s harder if you come from an economically challenged background, as you have to travel to rural jobs, paying for petrol and other expenses that come out of your pocket.

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“You have to study all the time, but Glasgow had a big social life, so our motto was always ‘work hard and play hard.’ I remember having to do 12-13 hour revision sessions in the library but you all pull each other through.

“When you graduate, you go straight into the job – you originally start out on consults and basic surgeries such as neutering. Although, it was frustrating when I first started, as everyone thought I was a student or assumed I was a nurse because I was a female – if I had a male student in the room, people would speak to them instead of me which was infuriating.

“Vets4Pets were my employers for my first two years out of university and it could be challenging at times. People think we are rich because we charge a lot for treatment and procedures but most people don’t know what the true costs of what treatments are.

“They have no idea that a course of antibiotics for us could cost £50, some big dogs are bigger than some small women, so it can add up. Often they think we are putting it into our pockets but the cost of running a practice has to be covered.

“This can really get vets down, that people think we are only in it for the money, we hate charging costs that people can’t afford. That is why I think it is so important to insure your pets and to understand the true cost of treatments before you get a pet.

“The fun thing is that my work as a vet has taken me to exotic parts of the world – travelling to Thailand to help neuter and spay stray cats and dogs as well as taking part in several trips to South Africa. When in South Africa, I took part in conservation work as well as helping lead a pre-vet course for high school students there.

“I have also spent time in Malawi working on a wildlife reserve; I began with helping to put collars on lions to monitor their movements and on one occasion we had to rescue a baby elephant stuck under a tree trunk. Drugs were flown in by helicopter from 45 mins away which was just so surreal but luckily the baby and mum were ok.

“Although, this was in 45 degree heat and the baby was so dehydrated that it grabbed my water bottle off me and started chugging it down – it was very cute. I also had to stitch up a cheetah which was obviously a major highlight.

“At the moment I work for the PDSA which personally I enjoy much more than working in the corporate sector. Money is still relevant but it is less of a concern and you can just get on with treating animals which is why we got into the job.

“You would be amazed by the tens of millions that is left to the charity in peoples wills.

“I just absolutely love seeing the look on a pet or owner’s face when I cure an illness or an issue; it is just priceless. Of course it can be hard when you have to put an animal to sleep but you always have to remember that you are ending its suffering. You have to be mentally strong to work in this profession.”