At the time, I thought that comment a bit strange. Surely, the general public must have some idea. After all, they are very judgmental of vets or of how we should be doing things, if social media is any indication.
Whilst many of the veterinary shows on TV are great entertainment, and whilst they don't truly reflect the day in a vets life, they still do show a range of procedures and equipment, as well as some of the day-to-day stressors of a veterinarians life.
So fast forward to a general business conference I attended recently. Each of us introduced ourselves, and our professions and businesses to all. There were accountants, electricians, beauticians, hair dressers, truck drivers and marketing gurus. We all had a thing in common - each of us were in business, and we each wanted to improve our business.
When it came to lunch time, I was asked " So you're a vet? Do you do surgeries and stuff?"
"Yes, Sir... I do surgeries and stuff", and I left it at that. If I wasn't asked the question over a meal, then I would quite happily have gone into all of the things I do (as do my colleagues) every day. A lot of what we do isn't really appropriate meal time conversation.
|Should I really be talking about Pyometron surgery over lunch with strangers?|
Because of what we do, day in and day out, its easy to forget that many people do not realise what it is that we actually do.
Unless you understand the complexity and the skill that has gone into our work, you are not going to appreciate the value. To some of you, giving your vet money is just expensive, irrespective of the service they have given you.
But this post isn't about money, or expense... it is about the world of veterinary medicine.
For some of us, it is "magical". For others it is "science". And let us not forget the "art" aspect too.
|Every day is magic!|
The truth is - veterinary science is all three things. The magic comes every time there is a connection with an animal, physically or emotionally. The trust that that animal has in you, a stranger, to do no harm to them or their human family.
The happiness in their eyes and their smiles when they see you head over to the treat jar. Doing something that you know is going to make a big difference in that pet's life, whether it be a nail trim (they can walk more comfortably), expressing anal glands (no more scooting or sore bottoms), or the big stuff, such as fixing a broken leg or curing the dog of cancer.
Isn't that magical?
I read about it all the time - where fellow colleagues are forgetting about the magic of what they do because they are up to their umpteenth anal gland expression that day. As one colleague said to me recently, "I hate the boring anal gland and nail clip stuff". Sadly, whilst he thinks that way (and I know he's not alone), he has missed a simple joy of what being a vet is all about - the magic of making a difference in an animal's life for the better.
For you see, no matter how often they have done it, or how "routine" it is for that vet.... for that animal, when you have expressed their anal glands or trimmed their nails, you have made a HUGE impact on the quality of their lives.
Being a vet isn't about us, but about them.
Let us get back to the science part, after all I did graduate with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from the University of Sydney, not a Bachelor of Veterinary Magic from Hogwarts.
The problem I have with the "science" word as one would tend to think of science as rigid and fixed, like the laws of physics. But as one of my fav TV characters Dr Who would say, veterinary science is more "slimy wimy twisty outery type of thing". Of course, he was referencing time, being the Time Lord and all, but the same applies to veterinary work.
To rephrase that, veterinary work is a combination of magic, science and art. Combine that all together, and you have your local animal loving GP vet.
So let's get back to my fellow business person's question... Do you do surgeries and stuff"
|Dr Liz plays "dentist" and "Radiographer"|
Well, the best way I could describe it is comparing it to the human side.
In any given day, I could be a
- ob-gyn (desexing a dog/cat/rabbit),
- oncologist (diagnosing and treating common cancers),
- general surgeon (stitching up lacerations or bite wounds),
- opthalmologist ( conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers),
- dermatologist (skin biopsy and allergy testing, or solving the itchy pet saga),
- dentist (assessing oral health, and instituting appropriate treatment including extractions)
- Renal specialist - diagnosing and managing pets with chronic kidney disease
- Anaesthetist - ensuring all pets have a safe general or local anaesthetic
- Arthritis management - developing joint and muscle management plans
- nutritionist - formulating an appropriate diet for the individual pet
I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi.