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A Day In The Life Of a Veterinarian Disclaimer

What do I do all day, you may ask? I am a veterinarian in a busy city practice and, yes, I get to have lots of cuddles with adorable kittens and puppies, but I also have to see lots of sick animals and that can be very sad.

As well as consultations, there are tests to do, treatments to give, surgeries to be performed and then there is the cleaning up and ringing the pets' owners to let them know how their loved ones are getting on. We also need to update the patients' files on the computer and do the accounts.

Maybe you want to be a vet, too? Here's a day out of my diary...

  • 8am. I arrive at the clinic half an hour after the receptionist, veterinary nurse, and animal attendant. They make sure the clinic is ready to open at 8am. The nurse and I examine the patients in hospital, making notes on their computer records, and giving medications. Animals that are having surgery today start arriving, and we examine them and take blood to do some tests to make sure they are fit to have a general anaesthetic.
  • 8.30am. The first appointment arrives. A dog has been sick during the night and a tired and worried owner drops her off to stay in hospital for some blood tests while she goes to work. Appointments last 15 to 30 minutes, and we are open for appointments between 8.30am and 8pm.
  • 10am. Between appointments, the nurse shows me the results of the blood tests for the surgery patients, and if they are normal, the animal receives a sedative injection to make him quiet and less anxious. One of the tests is abnormal, and I ring the owner to recommend a follow-up blood test by a pathologist who can examine the dog’s blood cells more closely. We won’t be doing this dog’s surgery today in case there is a problem.
  • 11am. The other veterinarian arrives. We work 9 hours a day, and since the clinic is open for 12 hours, we need to stagger our shifts. While the other veterinarian takes over the appointments, I start on the surgery. We have a female cat and a male dog to desex, and an old German Shepherd is having a lump removed. This lump will be sent to the laboratory for a pathologist to examine to tell us what it is. There is a Jack Russell dog that needs some Xrays on a sore leg, and 2 cats are having their teeth cleaned. One of our veterinarians has a special interest in animal dentistry, and she can do complicated dental work on pets.
  • 3pm. Surgery is finished, and it’s time to do some accounting work on the computer while eating lunch. The bank statements have arrived in the mail and I have to enter all the information onto the computer before our accountant visits us tomorrow. This is also the time to return phone calls from clients, and to ring the owners of the animals in hospital to give them an update. It’s always nice to give good news, and tell the owner they can collect their pet today.
  • 4pm. The appointments start to get busy again and the other veterinarian is talking to a drug company representative to find out about some new medications while I take appointments. Most appointments are to give vaccinations after an examination, and to supply medicine to make sure the dog or cat doesn’t get worms, fleas, or heartworm. This afternoon I also see a dog that has torn a ligament in his leg and he is booked in for an operation.
  • 6pm. Officially I finish at 5pm, but the computer has me as its prisoner until I finish the accounts. We used to be on call during the night, so that we would see people with emergencies after normal office hours. However, now the answering machine tells people to take their pet to a nearby emergency clinic that is open all night.

    Dr Rebecca Humphreys graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Veterinary Science in 1989, and worked in mixed animal practice in Canberra before moving to Sydney. She has worked at Mosman Veterinary Clinic on the Lower North Shore for nine years, becoming a partner in 1996. Rebecca has a particular interest in companion animal surgery and has completed membership of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Small Animal Surgery.

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