Wednesday 21st March 2007 by C. Freeman
High flying student, Paige Hunter is celebrating after being offered a place to study at the prestigious Bristol Vet School. The Year 13 student has long held the ambition of becoming a vet and now she faces five years of study and practice before she gains the coveted MRCVS title.
Paige is no stranger to animal husbandry; she has already helped deliver lambs and had work experience in local veterinary practices so the 'hands-on' element of vet school holds no fear for her.
Her interview at Bristol School of Veterinary Science, considered one of the top vet schools in the country, was quite formal although at another vet school interview she had to correctly identify a dog's skinned leg! As well as being accepted at Bristol Paige has also been offered a place at Liverpool Vet School. Other delightful tasks which Paige has undertaken include dissecting lambs' hearts, dogs' testicles and holding a sick animal while it was given a lethal injection.
Paige delivering a lamb
Paige is undaunted by the years of study and practicals that lie before her: 'Since I was a kid I've always been drawn to animals. The living body is fascinating. I love animals and treating them also gives you a way to interact with people' she said.
Competition for places at Bristol was stiff as 1,200 people applied, 450 people were interviewed and Paige is one of only 100 who will actually start the course in October. It will be a mixture of practical and theory with students learning what a 'normal' animal should be like before they can then learn to identify and treat disease. Three years are devoted to theory and two years to practical experience with the final year consisting of purely clinical practice with no lectures. The course will focus on both large and small animals so Paige will get plenty of experience with farm animals and more exotic creatures.
The effort was all worth it!
Her long term aim is to travel the world, gaining plenty of experience with species unfamiliar to British vets. Australia is her destination of choice at the moment with its 'diverse range of animals' including wombats and koalas. Due to its island status much of Australia's fauna is unique with 83 per cent of mammals, 89 per cent of reptiles, 90 per cent of fish and insects and 93 per cent of amphibians endemic to Australia.
Paige was especially encouraged by members of staff at Brooke Weston, especially Gary and Sarah Matthews who have since left. She was at College when the vital phone call offering her a place came through and so she got the good news in the science prep room at Brooke Weston; an auspicious start for her future career! Paige, who is taking biology, chemistry, maths and business studies at A-level has already got two essential text books as 18th birthday presents. As if studying and holding down two jobs isn't enough to contend with, she also does a spot of bell-ringing, stilt-walking, juggling and unicycling in her spare time!
Paige said: 'One day I want my own practice. I want to get out there and make a big difference to the animals that I'll treat and the people I will be dealing with. Although you've got to have compassion you also have to have professional detachment. I'm going to take every chance that I can. Once I qualify I expect to keep topping up my skills and specialise more. I must give special thanks to all the friends, family and teachers who have supported me, and special thanks to Mr and Mrs Matthews! I'll never stop learning!'