I think most young people go through a phase at some stage of “I want to be a vet when I grow up!”; most move onto teacher, farmer, footballer, Doctor or even astronaut but a few are determined enough to stick with veterinary all the way to getting that degree. But what then? playing with puppies and kittens all day? No, not quite! Here’s a typical day in the life of a Vet:
I arrive to the clinic just before 8.30am, first job is always to check on inpatients. One dog has been in overnight on a drip after vomiting for the past four days. I examine him: temperature, pule and respiration check – all perfect. He is great form this morning, eating well and happy to go out for quick walk. If he keeps his breakfast down without any vomiting we can hopefully send him home this afternoon and will check him again tomorrow. Next I check my other inpatient, a little cat who was sadly hit by a car. She has been in overnight on fluids, painkilllers and a heatpad. I examine her temperature, pulse and respiration. I am worried about this patient and speak to her owner – I want to perform x-rays of the pelvis and chest because she is breathing quickly and has yet to pass any urine. I administer painkillers to keep her comfortable and add her to the list of ” surgical/medical to-dos” for today which includes: a dog to spay and a cat to neuter. But first – morning appointments!
First appointment is at 9am: microchip a puppy. Followed by a lame dog, a vomiting cat, 2 dog booster vaccinations and a rabbit nail clip. All patients are examined and treatment plans laid out, sometimes it’s as simple as ensuring they have worming doses for the rest of the year and sometimes it means sending home with painkillers and re-examining the animal to ensure he is doing better on them. In between each patient, I write a clinical history so i have recorded exactly what the problem is, where it is and what treatment options have been recommended. Some have to be booked for x-rays, surgery or blood tests at a later date.
After my morning appointments, I examine each of my surgical cases for the day. I assess heart and lung function and run blood tests on any I feel worried about. This is to minimise the risk of the anaestheisa to the patient. I leave my nurse to get my patients ready for surgery while I inhale a quick cup of tea before beginning my surgeries. Cat neuter followed by dog spay and then my little cat to xray. I detected a fracture to the pelvis of this kitty but thankfully she is able to defecate and urinate normally. Strict cage rest for 6 weeks and painkillers and she should do very well fingers crossed. Her mummy is relived to hear the good news and we agree to keep her for one more night on the fluids and will arrange a go home time tomorrow and will have a follow up appointment in one week to assess to her progress. I then have a lot of clients to phone back who have contacted with queries through out the day so I make my way through the list of call backs. I also have to phone a pathologist regarding some blood tests and have some paper work to fill out too. By this time it’s 2 pm: all my surgical patients are awake and eating so it’s time for me to eat aswell (quickly!) before my next appointment at 2.30!
My afternoon consists of: Dog with lump, administer kennel cough vaccine, new puppy exam, lame dog, lethargic cat, a dog with sore ears, a cat with a sore eye, a lizard with a sore leg, a wobbly old dog and a cat with a wound on her leg. As with all clinical exams I take a brief history from the owner before performing a full physical exam before deciding on a treatment options or diagnostic tests with the owners. Inbetween all the appointments my inpatients and surgical patients from the day are being discharged back to their owners along with medicine to go home with, post-operative instructions and follow-up appointments. All the while the phone continues to ring and the last few appointment slots up fill up quickly!
The evening consists of mostly routine appointments: vaccines, puppy exams and post-op examinations. Thankfully all are doing well and it looks like we might get out on time for 6pm today! The Nurse and I do a physical exam on our inpatients, administer medications and clean their beds out and feed them to make sure they are comfortable for the evening. We eventually leave at 6.15 after a long day – Although I am on call for emergencies tonight so the day may not be over yet! Here’s a quick break down of the day:
Patients seen by me today: About 20
Number of species treated: 4
Xrays taken and interpreted: 2
Surgeries performed: 2
Surgeries/procedures booked for tomorrow from today: 3
Blood tests carried out inhouse: 3
It can be hectic and full-on at times, but that’s why I love it. The variety keeps the job interesting and refreshing – no two days are alike. A day in the life of a vet can be tough, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!