Amy Hoogenboom with the Massey farm deer in for blood sampling during her week on the Massey farm services roster.

Count down to a career

Massey University veterinary student Amy Hoogenboom looks forward to completing her final year of studies and a working life.

Well, here I am, the beginning of the end. The end of late-night study, early morning lectures and too many exams. The beginning of Sunday night foreign body removals, early morning calving call outs and too much paperwork. The end of vet school and the beginning of my veterinary career.

Final year vet has me feeling very much like a young James Herriot – patients have varied from working dogs trodden on by a bull and a cat with diabetes to a goat with a ruptured bladder and a few cows in need of a manicure.

Many challenges are associated with final year. The greatest is identifying and mastering the baking of a sweet treat for the final day of each clinical roster or placement.

The purpose of final year is to build our day one competencies, or skills and knowledge expected of us on our first day after graduating.

Over the next eight months, I’ll be rotating through the Massey veterinary hospital, spending time in surgery, necropsy, equine, farm services, intensive care, and anaesthesia to name a few. These rotations will be supplemented with clinical placements around New Zealand, assignments and meat works and other animal product processing plants.

Many challenges are associated with final year. The greatest is identifying and mastering the baking of a sweet treat for the final day of each clinical roster or placement. Baking is not compulsory yet over the years seems to have become an unwritten expectation of vet students when they finish placement at a clinic.

This sweet treat must be quick and simple to make but also so delicious that whoever is completing your assessment form eats their way to ticking excellent. A tough task that not every vet student is up to, however, one I feel I have expertly mastered with triple-chocolate brownies. A fool proof recipe that ticks all the boxes, who doesn’t love chocolate brownies?

Sheep and beef roster is hands-down my favourite roster so far this year. Not only because of the leisurely 9am starts and relatively early finishes, but also the van rides to back-country areas of the Manawatu where the hour-plus long drive is filled with our teaching vet providing stories and words of wisdom on everything from how to kill a guinea pig through to the dark days of working as a large animal vet during the foot and mouth outbreak in the United Kingdom.

Despite the leisurely hours it is still a busy week of ram vasectomies, rectal pregnancy diagnosis, ram palpations and bleeding and it is always an entertaining day when students are working the head crush or attempting to restrain a ram to collect a blood sample.

For the month of April, I have loaded the trusty Ford Mondeo with my bags and mountain bike to venture south to spend a month in Canterbury and a week in Marlborough.

I am looking forward to staying with my sister, Rachael, who is studying Agricultural Science at Lincoln University. Living in different parts of the country and the final years’ vet degree having different holiday breaks means we haven’t seen much of each other in recent times. Although she has recently informed me that the week I have planned to stay with her she will now be in the North Island for a field trip, so it seems our reunion may be short-lived. Nevertheless, I am excited to spend some time exploring both Canterbury and Marlborough as during my 23 years of life so far I’ve made more visits to Australia than I have the South Island.

PS: just burnt the batch of brownies I had in the oven. Looks like the clinic I have been on placement at this week may be getting a packet of Tim Tams instead…