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Home > BlogsHow to get the most out of your EMS Placement by Dogtor Smith


How to get the most out of your EMS Placement by Dogtor Smith

Let's talk EMS!

It's a strange, but insightful position to be a new graduate Veterinary surgeon with a large exposure to EMS students. Being fresh from Vet school I like to think I'm best placed to know what the students want and so I try really very hard to teach, encourage and provide opportunities for anyone seeing practice with me. However, I'm now also in that strange position where I can appreciate what we as Vets want to see the students achieve/how to act.

So, with that being said I thought it would be a good idea to discuss how to get the most out of your EMS placements...


  1. The first thing I notice as a Vet when students come in is their lack, or presence of, enthusiasm. This is HUGE and so please as a student, don't underestimate the value of a smile!! If you're enthusiastic, if you ask questions and if you look engaged then I’m definitely going to take the time to discuss cases with you, let you take bloods, place catheters and perform surgery. If you look hungover or like you're there because you just have to fill the EMS quota then I'm going to be much more inclined to let you stand at the side of the consult room gathering dust... Ask questions, look alert and smile!


  1. Secondly, as a student I was always worried that Vets would judge my ability. I PROMISE, we do not care how well you can place a catheter or castrate a dog. I also don't mind if you can't remember a disease/treatment/differential diagnosis. I'm not there to test you, I'm there to help you and hopefully nurture the start of your career. If you're nervous and feeling like you're being tested you're less likely to perform to the best of your ability. My main advice on this point is being honest. Let us know what you're confident doing and what needs work. If we have time and you're confused about a case - just ask! It's being aware of your limitations and showing improvement over the course of the week that I'll be worried about; not if you manage to take some blood or not from a wriggly cat!


  1. Another thing that I have noticed since working as a Vet is how helpful students can be within the practice environment. On a busy day, you guys are like gold dust! You truly can contribute to the smooth running of a practice. I really appreciate any students that clean up after me, help the nurses in prep or know how to restrain animals effectively. I understand that sometimes in busy practices it may feel like you're just cleaning and holding animals rather than getting stuck in yourself, but, even doing these tasks you'll be picking up invaluable information about how to work well as part of a Veterinary team. It's also vital we as Vets learn how to adequately restrain animals and understand how much it takes to get the practice running so smoothly around us. This is the kind of information you'll pick up doing these jobs and it'll help you no end when you start working life! It will also mean that on quiet days we are much more likely to take time out to help you - so it's a win-win!


  1. Finally, I'd like to encourage all students to ask questions! These don't have to be super intellectual or paper-worthy questions. Just any questions you may have niggling down inside. It's often a daunting prospect on EMS and I know I used to feel like I had to ask clever questions all the time and that meant I'd keep the 'stupid' ones shut inside. The reality is, there's no such thing as a stupid question. If you're thinking it, it's highly likely a thousand Vet students/Vets before you have also thought of that question. It's also highly likely that they too suffered in silence, too embarrassed to ask and so as a result had to just 'figure it out' when they reached the working world! So please, if there's anything you need clarifying, or anything that just doesn't quite make sense then just ask (or write it down so you can ask it at a more appropriate time)!


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Oh, and from a new Vets perspective, keep baking!!!! I LOVE homemade student bakes - they keep me going at the end of a busy week!

Good luck with future placements and don't hesitate to get in touch with any further EMS queries.

Over and out,

Dogtor Smith

(The diary of a junior dogtor - @dogtorsmith)

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