Vet Students Around The World – Meet Victoria Drauch from Austria

Posted on: July 10, 2016

We think veterinary students are awesome! Together with the International Veterinary Students' Association, we are bringing you stories of vet students around the world.

To start, please tell us about yourself.

Hi, I’m Victoria! I’m 21 years old and from Austria. After I finished school, I started to study Veterinary Medicine at the VetMedUniUniversity of Applied Science in Vienna. Consequently, I continue living with my family, which is great for financial and psycho-social support.

I’m currently in the 8th semester of my studies, meaning that I have already managed to complete more than half of my didactic training. While studying, I have also had the opportunity to participate in different IVSA events, such as IVSA congresses and international group exchanges that have been held in countries such as Taiwan, Indonesia, the United States, the Caribbean, and many countries in Europe. These events have offered me the opportunity to learn a variety of veterinary functions.

Why did you decide to study veterinary medicine?

It has always been my dream to study veterinary medicine—ever since I was just three years old! I grew up with the wish to one day contribute to pet and animal health.
When I graduated secondary school several years ago and applied for University, I did not expect my studies to be so diverse regarding the professions you can get out of it. It was the right decision, I can’t imagine becoming anything else than a veterinarian.

The big question for any vet: What's your favorite animal and why?

I’m in love with cats because of their self-confidence, they are independent and not as easy to domesticate as dogs. What I really like is that they’re individuals. It’s not easy to become their friends and that’s what I love, it’s a challenge. And, of course, cat’s purring is great—it makes me feel relaxed!

Apart from companion animals, I found that working with cattle is exciting! Cows are so interested in their environment and very curious about new things. I have seen cows sometimes lick vets, while the vet is working with another cow.

 

Do you have pets?

Yes, I have 7 cats, and each one has its own personality! Their names are: Boy, Lady, Minki, Britta, Mike, Bobby and Foxi. The cats I have were homeless, so I started feeding them and over time, they became gentle. I saw it as a task to win their trust and the best way to do this is of course by feeding those hungry kittens. Of course we had a visit at the vet and neutered all of them. Now they even sleep in my bed. My grandmother looks after my cats when I’m studying in Vienna. I’d love to own a dog, but I believe my days aren’t structured enough for regular time, attention, and walks! And my cats wouldn’t be very impressed by another animal in their pack.

Can you tell us one of your favorite "veterinary facts" or nuggets of "vet advice"?

You should always keep in mind what it’s all about: improving the life of animals and pets. If you work passionately and focus your goals, all the effort is worth it.

What are your studies like, were they everything you expected them to be?

To be honest, I did not have expectations before kicking off my studies. Maybe that was the reason why it turned out to be greater than I could have ever imagined!
By joining the IVSA as a referee, I gained experiences in areas I had never been in contact with before. For example, I learned about the One Health initiative for which we arranged lectures at no charge for students at our University.

Furthermore, I joined practical workshops about traditional Chinese medicine when I was in Taiwan this year. In Malaysia, I gained insights into conservation medicine, such as how important it is to protect the environment for the elephants if we don’t want them to become extinct. So you see, it’s not boring at all!
It’s great how you get to know these working areas while studying, especially studying abroad where the scope and exposure are much greater.
Although animal welfare is approached in different ways in different countries, there is an overall goal: to add value to an animal’s health - that’s inspiring!

Have you had experiences with dangerous or exotic animals?

To my trained mind, every animal has the capacity to become dangerous! This is primarily because they communicate differently than we do; so much of my training also means learning about how animals respond as individuals and as a species.

I experienced several situations during my part-time job in a vet practice internship and of course they are not always amused by being put in their cage and driven to a stranger. My training helped me to understand their needs.

I once worked with an orangutan in Malaysia, where I had to draw blood. It was an impressive experience for me as Orangutans are much larger in person and they have a tremendous amount of strength. Given the orangutan’s intelligence, it made my heart beat knowing the animal was also paying close attention to my movements—comparing them with vets that they’ve worked with in the past. In Malaysia, I also had the opportunity to work with elephants. I realized how precarious working with these animals can be, due to their immense physical size. Although potential work-related hazards exist, I’ve been safe so far.

What advice do you have for new vet students?/ What advice would you give people considering a career in veterinary medicine?

Enjoy your time in veterinary school and use every opportunity to develop new skills. There are always ways to enrich your semester, e.g. by participating in exchange programs like I did. By joining the IVSA, I was exposed to many new areas of veterinary medicine – I do recommend this to new vet students. Apart from job-based skills, travelling to IVSA congresses around the globe offered exposure to other countries and cultures, which helps develop character. 

Any plans for your future?

Many -I always need new challenges. I will continue working as a referee, meaning that I’m the contact person for other students who are interested in IVSA activities. Another part of the job is to organize the exchange visits for vet students from Norway and Portugal soon visiting my University in Vienna.

Additionally, there is an exchange program from IVSA to Portugal in May which I will join.
After having finished my studies in a few years, I would love to practice as a veterinarian, but I am open-minded to new areas in research, especially with ruminants.

Thank you very much for the interview!

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