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    House of Lords placement for vet student Maddy

    12 June 2024

    A vet student’s interest in public health and small animal medicine and surgery recently took her to the House of Lords to broaden her knowledge of veterinary policy and the parliamentary process. 

    After meeting Lord Trees at the official opening of the Harper & Keele Veterinary School (HKVS) building at Keele last year, fourth year Maddy Shorthouse secured an EMS placement at the Veterinary Policy Research Foundation (VPRF).  

    The VPRF funds the role of a veterinary parliamentary intern to work alongside Professor Lord Trees, the only vet in the House of Lords and former President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, to inform, advise, and influence UK government in matters related to Lord Trees' areas of expertise and interest. 

    Extra-mural studies (EMS) are placements taken throughout a veterinary medicine degree which offer an important insight and introduction into the professional career of a veterinary surgeon. Maddy said: “I had a fantastic EMS week, learning about veterinary policy, important current issues facing the profession, and some of the amazing things which go on behind the scenes. It was great to have the chance to work with Lord Trees, and his Parliamentary Veterinary Intern, Fiona. They both provided excellent insight into the world of veterinary policy. 

    “While there, I was tasked to prepare and present a brief regarding the environmental impact of small animal spot-on ectoparasiticide treatment in the UK.”  Ectoparasiticides are veterinary medicinal products used to treat fleas and ticks in cats, dogs and other animals. 

    “Having a project to work on throughout the week gave me a good focus and supplemented my Vet School knowledge of ectoparasiticide use and the potential wider-reaching effects on the environment. The opportunity to discuss the project with Fiona and Lord Trees, who both had extensive personal insight from their work in the profession, was invaluable.” 

    Based on her experience, which also included observing a debate in the Lords’ Chamber, sitting in on the Environment and Climate Change Select Committee, and visiting the DEFRA office, Maddy has this advice for current vet students: “I would highly recommend the placement to other students who are interested in policy or research. It’s great to explore some of the many options which can become accessible with a vet degree, and to see the real-life changes which can occur as a result of policy work.  

    “It is also highly complementary to the Veterinary Public Health & State Veterinary Medicine teaching in third year at HKVS, and provided me with a sense of the context, scale, and reach of some of the initiatives which pass through Parliament which I had previously learnt about.”  

    “It is truly motivating to know how many avenues there are to consider post-graduation, and to see some of the amazing places a veterinary degree can take you!? I’m planning to work in small animal practice, but I would be very interested in a job relating to veterinary policy once I have some clinical experience.  

    “With finals passed and rotations kicked off nicely, I am starting to get excited by the breadth of prospects which may be available to me in the not-too-distant future!”  

    Dr Fiona Shuttleworth, VPRF Parliamentary Veterinary Intern to Professor the Lord Trees, added: “The VPRF is dedicated to expanding career development opportunities for young veterinarians, by showcasing the variety of opportunities available to those who hold a veterinary degree. Beyond more traditional roles in clinical practice, veterinarians play pivotal roles in various industries and are equipped with skills applicable to diverse sectors such as public health, research and academia, and policy-making. The VPRF aims to empower aspiring and qualified veterinarians to explore and pursue fulfilling, life-long careers within the veterinary world and offers EMS opportunities for students interested in understanding the role of a veterinarian in the House of Lords.” 

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