Veterinary Medicine students reflect on visit to DEFRA | Harper & Keele Veterinary School
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29 November 2023

Veterinary Medicine students reflect on visit to DEFRA

Cate Bishop and Rebecca Dore

Third year Veterinary Medicine and Surgery students Cate Bishop and Rebecca Dore spent time in London to shadow the Minister of State for Food, Farming and Fisheries.

The Rt Hon Mark Spencer MP visited Harper Adams University earlier this year where he met University Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Lee before being taken on a tour of the Harper Adams Future Farm and visiting the Veterinary Education Centre.

As part of the visit, he met with several students, including Cate and Rebecca, discussing topics including the need for a diversity of routes into veterinary medicine, the importance of backing British farming, and the UK’s need for more skilled vets.

Cate said: “The visit provided a real insight into the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and sparked a desire to learn more about what they do and explore the different roles for vets within government. Following the visit, we contacted the Minister, and arranged to shadow him at DEFRA’s offices in London.

Cate Bishop and Rebecca Dore“On the day we spent the morning meeting civil servants within the department and had the opportunity to observe the weekly team meeting, this provided a real insight into the inner workings of the department and the breadth of key issues they tackle.”

Rebecca added: “We were fortunate to meet with two Scientific Advisors, including one who had recently completed the Civil Service Fast Stream programme after graduating. Whilst they weren’t able to go into too much detail, it was inspiring to hear how their work has a real impact on a national scale.

“I’ve always been passionate about animal welfare and the ethics around it, and whilst I’m not sure where my career journey will take me, the visit has opened my eyes to the potential of working in this field, and highlighted the difference you can make.”

Based on their experience, which also included a behind the scenes tour of the Houses of Parliament and listening to a debate in the House of Commons, Cate has this advice for fellow vet students: “Seize any opportunities that come your way throughout your degree. Now is an opportune time to embrace and experience multiple work environments in different fields to help navigate, and kick start your career post-graduation.”

Professor Philip Robinson, Deputy Head of the Harper & Keele Veterinary School, said: “I was delighted to hear of the very interesting and informative visit that Cate and Rebecca enjoyed at DEFRA and the Houses of Parliament. As I often remind our vet students, there are so many different career pathways for vets, and it’s so important for them to find what they’re most passionate about as they explore and experience the opportunities available to them during their degree course and beyond.” 

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