Initially, the Royal Dick sounded like a pretty strange name for a veterinary school. William Dick started the school in 1823, and it had 23 students in its inaugural year. Both the school and the veterinary profession gained momentum, and the school’s name was changed in 1906 to the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College and eventually became part of the University of Edinburgh.
The school has been moved from its old location at Summerhall near the city center out to the Easter Bush campus on the outskirts of town. I had a thirty-minute bus ride to get to the new campus and animal hospital, which is located among sheep pastures. I joined groups of three or four students on each of four rotations. Many, maybe even the majority, of students were not from Scotland or even the UK; I met students from Hong Kong, Greece, Canada, and lots from the US. For students from the US, tuition is around $30,000 a year, but Scottish students receive a free education. Like American vet schools, the majority of students are female. Unlike my vet class though, most of the students are in their early 20s.
The Royal Dick has two different programs; a five-year program for students right out of high school, and a four-year program for students who have already received an undergraduate degree. I was told that entry requirements are a little less competitive and stringent than they are in the US. Upon graduation, students receive a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery and are considered veterinary surgeons.
As an exchange student, I had many of the same responsibilities that I do in Colorado, such as discussing pet histories with clients, doing initial exams, and doing some treatments. I felt that Edinburgh students were responsible for less paperwork and had less responsibilities with the patients. Like at Colorado State, students have task booklets that need to be checked off as they complete tasks and they do a case presentation in front of their peers. Some rotations require staying at the hospital overnight, and then still going to the regular appointments during the day, which would be very hard. Students’ days usually start between 8 and 9 am, and usually finish around 5 pm. Most rotations let students out early on Wednesday afternoons.
Though there are minor differences, the Royal Dick and Colorado State vet schools are really quite similar. It was a wonderful experience to study there for four weeks, and if I hadn’t been accepted to CSU, I would have considered applying to Edinburgh for vet school.