Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School


The Queen's Veterinary School Hospital

The Queen's Veterinary School Hospital is an integral part of the teaching environment of the University's Veterinary School. We see all domestic species and perform an average of 200 consultations per week; most are attended by students in their lecture-free final year.

The Hospital was opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1994 and has three main service areas; small animals, horses and farm animals. In recent years the hospital has been completely refurbished or rebuilt so that all three areas of the clinic now have the most up to date facilities. The small animal hospital has modern kennels for inpatients, extensive preparation and teaching areas as well as a new surgical block with four operating suites, a critical care unit and a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) facility. In the equine section there is a new diagnostic unit with sophisticated imaging equipment (including an MRI facility for use in the standing horse) and a state of the art surgical suite, all of which provides an excellent teaching experience for students. The farm animal section has been completely rebuilt so that the medical and surgical facilities together with the dairy unit at Madingley provide a first class teaching environment.

The clinic is backed up by an efficient clinical pathology laboratory. The Post-Mortem Building is a large and very well-appointed facility which provides a good environment for autopsy and pathological demonstrations.

The farm animal service runs a busy first opinion clinic as well as accepting referral cases from a wide area and there are approximately 1100 farm visits each year. The 200 cow Dairy Unit is just three miles away and was designed to maximize the opportunities for student participation. The farm also stocks some 800 beef cattle and a flock of 250 ewes.


I'm here because I can't get pregnant. I've been visited by a group of 6 veterinary students accompanied by the vet whose specialism is large animal reproduction. Apparently we goats aren't just small cows or funny looking sheep. The students have been doing all sorts of examinations. They have just finished using an ultrasound machine to look at my abdomen. What at first seemed to be just a badly adjusted television picture is now making sense to them as they look systematically through my abdominal organs to investigate my problems.



I have been referred to Cambridge Vet School by my usual vet because I have a problem skin. I think my owners aren't happy with me scratching all the time and I don't like the sore patches I get. The student who is handling my dermatology problem is working closely with a very distinguished veterinary dermatologist. What you might think is a simple problem requires considerable intellectual rigor. It's not just a case of deciding it's this disease or that disease. The student is listing what all my individual problems are and then working out what they can do (or are doing) for each of them. Clearly it's important to reach a diagnosis, but differences between patients and differences in the causes of disease, mean that no two cases of the same disease manifest themselves identically. The students are taught to look at us as animals with problems, not just an intellectual exercise in diagnosis. Mind you, those students do seem to be a very clever lot.



I've just been visited by a Cambridge veterinary student. I live in a zoo and the student is in their final year has chose to do the exotic animal elective. He has been helping the normal zoo vet and I think he wants to be a zoo vet when he graduates. As part of his elective the student is doing a project on monkey nutrition. The student has been discussing the importance of nutrition and how difficult it can be to work out how to formulate the right diet for relatively unusual animals. Cambridge education prepares the students for lifetime learning. When I see the passion in this student you can't help but think he'll make a difference to our lives.



I've just been trotted up and down, round and round, again and again and again. My owner and I are a team; we compete in one-day events but just recently I've had a pit of pain in my shoulder. A very experienced Newmarket horse vet is an associate lecturer at Cambridge. He's taking time out to help the students learn about diagnosing lameness. If I could talk I'd just tell them but they have to work it out from the way my head nods and the rhythm of my limb movements. Once they think they know which limb is affected they then try to find out which joint is involved they then used local anaesthetic to see if it makes me sound again. The students are enjoying the session. These are important skills that they are learning. The vet teaching them emphasizes how essential knowledge and understanding of clinical anatomy underpins our ability to manage lameness. Some of the students are clearly having difficulty remembering some of their anatomy but they have plenty of time to revise before their final exams.



I've not been feeling well. Apparently I have a mast cell tumour and I'm here for treatment in the Cancer Treatment Unit. My owners have brought me to Cambridge as here they have some of the best facilities for diagnosing and treating cancer in animals in the world. My owners are met by one of the senior specialist vets and then a final year veterinary student asks them many questions and give me a clinical examination. The senior vet asks the student many questions and they discuss every aspect of my case.



I'm an alpacca not a llama. We can be distinguished from llamas by the fact we have a fringe and banana shaped ears. I'm here at Cambridge because I've lost my appetite recently and have been losing weight. One of the vets here has a special interest in llama's and alpacas which gives the students an opportunity to learn about a very unusual farm animal such as me. Much of the medicine they've learnt already will help them get to the bottom of my problem but other aspects of my physiology and anatomy are unique to me. Of course much of a vets work is about dealing with the commonplace or that which is familiar but vets also have to be prepared for things they haven't seen before. The Cambridge curriculum is designed stretch the minds of the students and give them the confidence to approach the challenge of the unknown.



Hello I've been brought in for a checkup after my spey. My owner thinks life will be easier for both of us if I'm neutered. We came via the RSPCA clinic where the students get practice at dealing with every day veterinary medicine. All the students get taught surgery. I gather it's quite nerve-wracking for students the first time they do some surgery but they are closely supervised by experienced veterinary surgeons (and of course they have to make sure nothing untoward happens to me). I've been a bit naughty about my stitches having pulled one out when I came round from the anaesthetic which is why they made me wear this ridiculous collar. Still one of the students is removing my stitches today so presumably the collar can go too.



Cambridge Vet School has an internationally famous neurology department. Not only do they treat and research neurological diseases of animals but they also hope to help treat and understand human disease. I'm here because I have a damaged spinal cord. No one understands why some peripheral nerves can repair themselves quite readily while damage to the central nervous system (i.e. my spinal cord) seems to be irreparable. The students looking at neurology cases are making the transition from theory into practice. The clinical signs resulting from my problem will help the students identify where the damage is located. It seems amazing how much can be worked out from just observing how I walk, or stand, or how I respond when I'm put off balance. The students are putting together information about what parts of the spinal cord are connecting to which nerves with their understanding of what functions are performed by which bit of the central nervous system. It's all too confusing to me but I can tell that some of these students are enthralled and may become specialist neurologists themselves one day. One things for sure though, they are going to get a good grounding in clinical neurology at this place.



I'm a very well-bred calf and from what they say here I must be quite a valuable animal. When I was born one of my legs wasn't quite right and now the surgeons at Cambridge are going to put things right. Veterinary students have been looking after me and making sure that I'm ready for my anaesthetic. A specialist veterinary anaesthetist will be responsible for supervising my anaesthetic but a veterinary student will be my anaesthetist today. I heard her discussing some complex physiology with her supervisor, things she learnt during her intercalated degree. Her supervisor seems to be emphasizing how understanding how the body works helps the anaesthetist maintain a good anaesthetic by changes in depth of anaesthesia before they affect the operation or put the patient at risk.



I just heard one of the students make that ‘sick as a parrot' joke again. If I got a sunflower seed for every time I heard that joke here I'd have a lot of sunflower seeds (well you know what I mean). I'm not ill I'm just here to provide the students with some experience handling birds like me. They've actually chosen me for this because I'm extremely unlikely to take a nip of anyone's fingers but the students don't know that (I can tell some of them are a little nervous about my beak). I really enjoy these trips out as I think my owner can tell. She's a vet too and is showing these six students how to hold me safely in order to examine me or give me treatments. Have to go now, here comes the next student.