Rotating internship is providing invaluable opportunity to work across several disciplines
After graduating with a degree in veterinary medicine from Ghent University, Joep Timmermans had the world at his feet.
But he chose to apply for a place on Vets Now’s rotating internship in Glasgow because he wanted to work in an environment that would both challenge him and support his professional growth.
“The UK was really appealing to me overall,” explained the 26-year-old, who grew up in the town of Waalwyk, which sits 20 miles north of the Netherlands/Belgium border.
“This was partly because of the language but also because a far higher proportion of pets are insured compared to other European countries, meaning there are more opportunities to pursue further diagnostics and treatment options.
“I looked at a lot of internships and chose to apply to Vets Now in Glasgow after hearing internal medicine specialist Scott Kilpatrick, who supervises the programme, speak so enthusiastically about it.
“All of our conversations were so positive and I liked the sound of working in Glasgow as they promised to offer really good exposure to several disciplines, including surgery, internal medicine and emergency.”
Many graduates start a Vets Now rotating internship with a real enthusiasm for veterinary medicine but no specific area of specialist interest — however, Joep has always felt drawn to surgery.
His interest started in university and has been cemented while at Vets Now.
“My end goal is to become a surgical specialist,” he confirmed. “I’m already planning my route towards this and I would like to move into a job that will provide me with surgical experience and then slowly work towards doing a residency.
“The reason I chose the rotating internship is that I wanted to get experience in a wide variety of disciplines first. For me, it’s important to have a good baseline knowledge before working towards a chosen specialty.
“On the programme, you go through six different rotations, all of which last four to six weeks. It’s really well thought-out as it allows you to focus on each particular area for a reasonable amount of time. You also do night shifts and back shifts and can arrange to do an externship elsewhere.
“The hospital team has a lot of connections and are happy to help with this. For example, I’m going to the RVC in London for three weeks where I’ll be doing a week in ECC, a week in soft tissue surgery and a week in orthopaedic surgery.”
In a job market where the number of veterinary roles outnumbers the people who can fill them, graduates in veterinary medicine could work anywhere — but Joep is adamant that Vets Now should be high on any graduate’s list of preferred employers.
“I would definitely recommend doing an internship at Vets Now,” he said. “Suddenly you’re no longer a vet student, you’re a vet so you have to make important decisions, consider the differential diagnosis and come up with a plan for your patients.
“You get a lot of primary care responsibilities. But there is always a senior vet or specialist on-hand to listen to your questions and to offer advice when it’s needed.
“Also, on the out-of-hours rotations, there are a lot of emergency cases so you never really know what you’re going to see. These are the kinds of experiences you need to grow as a young vet.”
There are still a limited number of places available for graduate vets wishing to do a rotating or discipline-specific internship at Vets Now’s state-of-the-art emergency and specialty hospitals in Glasgow and Manchester.
These begin in July and are designed for ambitious and highly-motivated vets similar to Joep.
“You’ll quickly find out which disciplines you like most by doing the rotating internship,” Joep explained. “You don’t necessarily need to go down the specialisation route at the end but the internship will help you decide whether specialisation is for you.”