Hannah Jordan, parliamentary intern to Lord Trees, is often asked what a vet does in the House of Lords. As a firm believer that the completion of a veterinary degree broadens career opportunities and employability, she describes the versatility of the veterinary degree.
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Since changes were made to the way higher education is funded, there seem to be new veterinary schools and faculties being proposed or developed all over the UK. On top of this, it is important to remember that veterinary graduates from the EU are free to register and work in the UK. Inevitably, there are some challenges facing the profession from the increased number of graduates, not least the availability of jobs in practice, but is being in practice really the only career option for a vet?
I am the first to admit that, at the tender age of 16, when I was faced with A-level options and degrees, I didn't have the first clue what to choose. The reasons I aimed to become a vet included that vets can work indoors, or out; vets can pursue specialisation, research, business, academia, administrative or clinical work; vets can work abroad; vets can continue learning and developing throughout their working life; vets are hands-on; vets tend not to have desk jobs; and last, but not least, vets get to work with animals and their owners.
The versatility of a veterinary career has been proven to me as I have gone through the degree, graduated and begun to explore the job market. As a parliamentary intern, I keep discovering vets employed in roles I never would have expected; only a few weeks ago I enjoyed an article about Joanna Reid (VR, March 22, 2014, vol 174, Vet Record Careers, p i) and her work in humanitarian services for the UK Department for International Development. The reason we are so versatile is because we are trained, among other things, to be formidable communicators, to problem solve, to consider the probability of various scenarios, to manage people, to work at pace and/or under stress, to use an evidence base for our decisions and to keep an open mind. These are incredibly useful, transferable skills. I don't want to detract from our core work, but I want to emphasise that a veterinary degree does not limit you solely to practice.
So, what does a vet do in the House of Lords? I help Lord Trees keep abreast of the vast array of parliamentary business, external media sources and briefings. We help to scrutinise legislation that may impact upon the veterinary profession, agricultural industry or the wider public. We question the Government about its policy and future plans, and when there is an issue that needs more attention we can table a debate. I am delighted to be volunteering each week with the lovely PDSA team at Bow to keep to my roots and, in the meantime, my alternate skillset continues to develop.
Never quite all work and no play – I am just home from a wonderful rendition of ‘The Winter's Tale’ at the Royal Opera House. Now, I shall ‘exit . . . pursued by a bear’.
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