Our Friendly Team

Guiding You towards a Successful Veterinary Career

Dr Karen Gardiner

Entrepreneur, wife and importantly a mother of one qualified vet and one vet student.  I wanted to be a vet from age 5, we didn’t have any pets so I spent most of my time at a neighbours house who had a grey cat called smokey.  I dreamt of having a pony and thought my parents were unreasonable not allowing me to keep one in our (very small) garden). 


Aged 8 I saved up my pocket money and went to the local pet shop, without telling my parents, and bought a Netherland dwarf rabbit and brought it home but had no cage or food or bowls so my father was very cross.  I spent every minute I was allowed at the local riding school mucking out and being around the ponies.  Eventually I was allowed a pet, a gerbil, it grew a large tumour and I then met our local vet, he understood that this little gerbil was very important to me and so he did surgery and removed the tumour rather than just putting the gerbil to sleep. 


Age 15 I went to work for the vet called Mr Grey, I loved being in the surgery with him and seeing the different animals that came in.  I also worked for a local dairy farmer helping milk his cows at the weekends.  I worked hard at school but I didn’t get the 5 A’s I needed to apply to vet school so I went to University and studied Zoology instead.  I wanted to be a marine mammal vet so I learnt to scuba dive too.  I applied to vet school after I graduated but was turned down so I started a PhD in marine mammals with the British Antarctic Survey. 


I applied again to vet school after my PhD and was lucky enough to be offered a place at Cambridge vet school however despite eight years of study I was exempted only Year 1 which meant another five years studying and after much indecision I decided to go on a round the World trip instead and in the course of my travels started my first company.  What I learnt is that if you REALLY want to be a vet and you persevere eventually the opportunity comes.


Now as a mother of three children, two of whom have chosen veterinary as their profession, I am keen to help anybody who dreams of being a vet make that dream come true by demystifying the process of getting to vet schoo

Dr Joanna Wilson

I didn’t always want to be a vet, but we had always had pets and when I was 7 my mum bought a horse called Miss Impressive.  Over the next seven years Missy would challenge both our local vets and the vet school with various unusual and interesting conditions.  It was whilst seeing the vets treat Missy that I decided I wanted to be a vet.  I learnt that keeping pets is a rollercoaster of love and hope and sadness when they die. 

 

I remember being picked up early from school to go to the local vet hospital to say goodbye to our dog Cinders who had pancreatic cancer.  We had had Cinders since I was born and I didn’t know life without her, our vet Ian was quiet and kind and gentle with me and my brother and sister while we hugged her and cried in the consulting room.  He explained in a way that we could all understand that there were no options, that she was in a lot of pain and that the kind thing was to say goodbye.  These moments leave footprints on your heart.  I studied hard at school and got the grades for applying to vet school and during 4th and 5th year got as much work experience as I could: lambing, dairy, kennels, horses, pigs, and chickens.  I was lucky I got in Edinburgh vet school, but it didn’t run smoothly and after being at the top of my classes I found vet school hard and I failed the second semester of 1st year meaning I had to repeat first year. 

 

That first real experience of failure has been important for me and helped me understand that failing at something helps you learn and grow as a person.  My passion is wildlife, and I started the Dick Vet Wildlife Conservation society in that second attempt at first year.  I created a partnership with a reserve in South Africa and I have been lucky enough to travel several times to Africa as well as Asia to work with wildlife.

 

 

I qualified as a vet in 2022 and I am now working in mixed practice, my message to you is never give up if you want something badly enough just keep moving forward.  We will help you navigate how to get what you need to be a vet.  I am excited about being part of the veterinary profession in Scotland. 

Sophie Wilson

Unlike my sister Joanna I always wanted to be a vet in fact I can’t remember wanting to be anything else.  I was lucky we were always allowed pets, probably because mum hadn’t been allowed them as a child. 

 

I have had rabbits, cats, rats, hamsters, dogs, and ponies.  I had watched my sister accumulate work experience and go through the process of applying to vet school, so I had some idea of what was needed.  When I needed work experience, we knew the people to ask, and I found them all supportive and keen to teach me about their animals so don’t be frightened to ask local farmers and kennels if you can go and help them for a week or two.  Like my sister I worked hard at school and got 5 A at Highers but the process for applying to vet school had changed post Covid and it was going through that process than prompted us to think about trying to help other people navigate it. 

 

Like Joanna I had lots of opportunity to see our local vets and how they worked as we have had a series of animals who have needed veterinary care.  Our current ginger cat Tigger, that mum rescued as an orphaned kitten, is a walking veterinary case and well known at the vet hospital.  I am currently going into second year of vet school in Edinburgh, I didn’t find first year particularly easy the teaching style is very different to school as is the volume of information you have to learn.  It was hard to adjust from getting top grades to being “average”.  I passed first year and this summer, like my sister, I am in Africa however I am working in an animal sanctuary for injured or rescued wildlife in Namibia. 

 

If you dream of being a vet there are now three Scottish vet schools and Aberdeen offers a different route into veterinary.  Never give up, hold your dream tight and find the people who will help you make the dream come true.  

 

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them” Walt Disney

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