pennvet

Rebecca Bernstein examines a patient at Penn Vet.

Photo: Courtesy of Adam Lerner / Animal Planet

Being a student at a veterinary school isn’t easy, especially at Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Once students reach their fourth and final year, they begin clinical rotations. They don their white lab coats proudly and prepare to treat patients, with the assistance of their professors, for the first time.

Animal Planet’s new show, “Life at Vet U,” documents this exciting time for fourth-year Penn Vet students. This six-part documentary series will premiere Oct. 1 at 10 p.m.

The show follows six Penn Vet students — Rebecca Bernstein, Max Emanuel, Lindsay Gallagher, Clint Kuban, Melanie Lang and Morgan Taylor as they experience the joys and challenges that come with their fourth year of vet school. The show features students working at the University’s Ryan Hospital for Companion Animals and Kennett Square’s New Bolton Center Hospital, which specialize in small and large animals, respectively.

Not only did the production team follow the students around the hospitals, it also followed them into their homes. And while none of the students were used to having cameras following them around, they quickly grew accustomed to it.

Twenty-eight-year-old Rebecca Bernstein wasn’t bothered at all by the cameras after the first week.

“After a while you kind of forget they’re there,” she said. Bernstein also said the cameras never caused her stress or distracted her from her work.

“The story was never meant to be about watching me mess up or make mistakes,” she added. “It’s about the clients and the dogs and the cats, and once I took myself out of it and realized that this was no different than any other day that I had, it was just that someone was documenting it — it really wasn’t distracting at all.”

Some scenes in “Life at Vet U” show Bernstein working with Dr. Grace Anne Mengel, a primary care veterinarian at Penn Vet.

“I love working with the students,” Dr. Mengel said. She has high hopes for the show. “I hope it can highlight what goes into training to be a veterinarian. And that there are a lot of really good people who go into veterinary medicine who really care about the animals and care about the people.”

Dr. Brady Beale, a veterinary ophthalmologist from Penn Vet who is also featured on the show, had a similar line of thought.

“As a veterinary student, you make so many sacrifices, and you work so hard, and I think that it is hard for the community around you to know all of the work you’re putting into it,” she said. “For these six students to be able to showcase that on national TV is a pretty exciting element.”

As someone who is uncomfortable making mistakes in front of other people, Gallagher was a bit intimidated by the cameras at first. However, she recognized that it was fantastic practice for her future client interactions as a veterinarian.

“When I have to present a case to a senior clinician, when I have to answer their questions...I have to make that leap,” she said. “It’s a lot of pressure.”

But the pressure of having their daily lives filmed seemed to be worth it — all of the doctors and students involved said they enjoyed working on the show.

“The crew was amazing,” Bernstein said. “It was all positive experiences.”

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