News / Media - Medical Poland

The decision making process

Welcome everyone! This  blog is for those curious about medical and veterinary studies in Poland. My name is Máirín-Rua and I’m a third year veterinary medicine student in Wroclaw, Poland. I’ll be your guide through the highs and lows of vet school, and what brought me to this beautiful country.

Medical Poland Mairin on a uni farm -Wroclaw

Firstly, let’s think about what brought us here. No doubt you’ve got a lot on you’re mind: Is this the right course for me?, What are veterinary schools in Poland like?, Do they teach Veterinary through English?, etc etc.

You want to be a vet, what next? In this post I will talk you through the decision making process, what I experienced and things I wish I had known before about studying veterinary, studying abroad, studying in Europe.

 

Check courses close to home

For us vet students the choices in Ireland are pretty limited. We have Veterinary medicine available in UCD, along with Veterinary Nursing in several locations around the country (St John’s in Cork runs a well respected programme). For information on other veterinary nursing courses use this link: http://bit.ly/2unV3Iv

The points required for UCD are always extremely high, so even for bright, passionate students it’s often just not an option. However even if you do get the points, it’s always important to explore other avenues. For many it seems that UCD is only worthhile choice for Irish veterinarians, but this is not the case. In this post I will show you why missing UCD by 10 points turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me.

The same process applies for human medicine students, check Irish universities but keep an open mind to studying abroad, studying in the heart of Europe, perhaps studying medicine in Poland.

 

Speak to those in the know

Get yourself to the nearest veterinary clinic and get some work experience! Yes you will mostly be cleaning but it gives you the opportunity to see the day to day running of a practice. You will see what your future job will entail. Vets work long hours and deal with stressful situations from non-cooperative pets, and even worse, non co-operative owners!

Try and spend time in more than one clinic, there’s more than one way to skin a cat and there’s also more than one way to operate on one! I have had very mixed experiences in clinics. Some places would allow me to stand and watch only, while in others I was preparing medications and castrating feral cats on my second week there. Spice things up and get experience in as many places as possible.

For those with ideas of the area they want to specialise in, e.g Equine Veterinary, work experience is really crucial. The veterinary world is competitive so if you want to  work with a particular animal you need to see what is involved. Ask the vets working in these areas what it took for them to get there. Many of them will have insider tips on the best schools or specialisation courses to give you an edge.

The Veterinary Council of Ireland have a great website (www.vci.ie/Register-with-VCI/Registrable-Qualifications) where you can check if your degree is registrable (Registrable = don’t need to do an exam when you return to Ireland, you will be given a licence the same as anyone who studied in UCD). A degree from the university in Wroclaw is registable so you will have no problems coming back to Ireland to work. This website has a Publications section where you can find a treasure trove of information on Profesional Conduct, regulations and newsletters.

For human medicine students you should talk to as many doctors and specialist as possible. You might not get into the clinic or hospital but call around and ask if you can speak to meet with doctors and surgeons to get some information on their jobs.

Current veterinary/medicine students also offer a wealth of knowledge. They can give you an updated idea of what to expect from the studies and what will be required from you to pass. The advantage of using an agency such as Medical Poland is that they can put you in contact with students currently studying in the universities you’re looking at. There was no agency working with my university when I applied and I really wish there had been. It would have made life so much easier! So make the most of the resources that are there now and don’t hesitate to ask questions!

 

Applying Abroad – The process

The first thing to check when applying abroad is the EEAVA website (www.eaeve.org/about-eaeve/members). This organisation check and accredit Veterinary universities all over Europe. They also offer a report on each university and it’s a great way of comparing the places you have in mind.

The veterinary school in Wroclaw has full accreditation under EEAVE. This means that the standard of teaching and resources have been checked and found to be very good. By studying in an EEAVE accredited university you give yourself many more opportunities as it’s easier to arrange internships and exchanges with other accredited universities.

Medical Poland will guide you through the whole application process should you decide to study in Wroclaw (it’s a similar process for human medicine students applying to Poland).

To study Veterinary in the heart of Europe and in the most dynamic Polish city - Wroclaw, you must have Biology and Chemistry as Leving Cert subjects. There are sometimes exceptions made if you have studied Agricultural Science, but at least some knowlege of these subjects will make your life much easier in first year (again – speak to Medical Poland if your case is special – they’re great in presenting it to the university).  

You will submit your Leaving Cert results, a copy of your passport, some legal documents and an agreement to get certain vaccines (rabies etc).

You will then do an interview. You can do this In Dublin, but if you are seriously considering studying in Poland I encourage you to go and do it on your future campus.

I was the first Irish student to apply to Wroclaw so my interview was very thorough. It consisted of an oral test of my knowledge of biology and chemistry as well as questions on my motivation. The university are looking for mature, motivated students so I recommend taking time to reflect on your motivation and long term goals. Don’t be scared in the interview, they will warn you that it’s not all playing with puppies and kittens! As part of the course you visit slaughter houses and meat processing units. They will gauge your reaction to this so make sure you go into the interview knowing what you’re signing up for!

They will then give you a tour of the campus. This is madly exciting as you meet some of your future professors and get a behind the scenes view of all the research and sophisticated surgeries gong on.

Apply as early as you can because if they are satisfied with you and your application they will let you know almost immediately.

 

Take some time off?

Sitting the Leaving Cert is one of the most stressful things you will do in your teenage life (or A-Levels if you are from UK). It’s really hard to see beyond exams and school life when you’re in the sixth year bubble.

I didn’t realise how passionately and single mindedly I wanted to pursue veterinary until I finished my exams and had headspace. I travelled and while in Kenya, faced with abject poverty and a totally foreign worldview I realised veterinary was the dream. Not everyone needs to travel thousands of miles to have an epiphany but a change of scene helps.

You need to think about the bigger picture, why did you choose veterinary in the first place? Are you interested in only one animal? Will you be happy if you can’t get a job in one area so end up working in another (no jobs with equine medicine so you end up with farm animals)? Are you prepared to slog for the next 5 years? Can you handle putting animals to sleep?

Ask yourself these questions in a quiet moment, take time and don’t panic. If your passion is for animals ask yourself if you’ve checked other animal related courses. You love wildlife? You should have a look at zooology. Love animals but not big on chemistry? How about Animal Husbandry?

If you ask yourself all these questions and decide veterinary is still for you then you’re one step closer on the path to vet school. You will need determination to get through tough courses and a demanding schedule.

 

Life as a veterinary student is hard work but the rewards are huge. You feel fulfilled every time you pass an exam and know you are that little bit closer to saving lives. You are hands on in labs from the beginning, you will dissect dead dogs in your first semester! It is stimulating to be with fellow animal and science lovers. Plus you get the thrill of moving country and exploring a new city!

Moving to Wroclaw for Veterinary medicine has been the most exciting, daunting and satisfying thing I have done so far. I hope many of you will have the adventure I had and take the first step in pursuing your dream job.

In the meantime, do your research, talk to vets and doctors and enjoy some time with animals! The Medical Poland team are always there to answer your questions so don’t be shy, send an email! 

 

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See video: What it's like to study veterinary in English in the heart of Europe

NEWS

We are delighted to invite you to our very anticipated, Medical Poland Open Day! The event will take place on Saturday, 18 November, 11:00-12:30 at Polish Weekend School SEN (Colaiste Mhuire, Ratoath Road, Dubln 7, map).

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