Labradors help sniff out best new vet students

Dogs join the interview panel for recruitment sessions

Date posted

13 March 2017


A FAMILY of Fox Red Labradors have been given a key role in selecting new vet students to study at Edinburgh Napier University.

Dad Simba, mother Tia and puppy Fern joined the ‘interview panel’ during recruitment sessions at the university’s Sighthill campus.

The lively trio were let loose among applicants taking part in a group discussion exercise as academic staff assessed students vying for a place on the popular BSc (Hons) vet nursing programme.

The playful pooches looked for, and received, plenty of hugs and claps from the group as the university hopefuls discussed Labradors, their key features and their biological needs.

There was a serious point to the dogs’ participation, with their presence helping staff assess applicants’ ability to communicate with both animals and humans – a core skill for someone embarking on a career as a vet.

The dogs also helped create a tension-free atmosphere in the room, encouraging the candidates to relax and perform to the best of their ability.

Jodie Smith, lecturer and programme recruitment officer, said: “Having dogs present in interviews, in particular good quality Labradors, tests the aptitude of potential students for dealing with animals.

“Their presence also helps the assessors hone in on candidates’ intuitive skills for working with dogs, which make up a large proportion of the patients in any veterinary practice.”

It is not the first time the university has used dogs as part of the process of selecting student vets, with staff keen to ensure that all new recruits are comfortable around animals.

The current canine helpers, who were used in communication skills group exercises involving around a dozen prospective students, come from breeders Saber’s Pride and are training with the charity APPAWS to become therapy dogs for people with autism.

This particular breed line of Labrador is felt to have the right combination of skills to calm, and communicate with, autistic adults and children.

Jodie said: “Each year we have very tough competition for places on the BSc (Hons) veterinary nursing programme. Incorporating dogs into the selection procedure allows applicants to display their skills in an authentic setting and greatly helps the decision-making process.”

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