Welcome Dr. Kate
I studied at The University of Adelaide and the veterinary degree there takes 6 difficult but exciting years.
Throughout my studies I had to complete a large amount of student placements in general practice vet clinics. I had a couple of friends who worked at Gawler Animal Hospital and I was lucky enough to be able to complete a placement here in the final year of my study. I had been to many other clinics, but I was amazed by the level of care and teamwork I experienced at Gawler, as well as the facilities, and thought it would be an awesome place to work so I was so happy to get the opportunity to join the team early this year.
What’s it like to be a new graduate veterinarian?
– In our years at university we learn a very broad range of content but there is a huge amount of the job that can only be taught once you get out into the real world and start working.
– Every day and every single consult is a learning curve, and I’ve quickly realised that there is almost never a simple health check or vaccination consult without other concerns or questions that sometimes take me by surprise when I don’t have an answer for them. University can teach us about serious disease but did not cover questions like ‘why does my dog eat its own poop’ and ‘why does my boy dog have nipples’, which can lead to entertaining conversations. There are often times when I don’t have answers to serious questions at which point, I let owners know that I would love to do some research and I give them a ring or send an email when I’ve got some ideas.
What do you love so far about being a veterinarian?
– As much as there are very hard aspects to the job, there is also lots of cuddling puppies and kittens. I have a real soft spot for our aging pets, hearing how much they mean to their family and trying to keep them as comfortable as we can in their twilight years.
– I also really enjoy surgery as, although it can be very stressful, what we can do is amazing, and I love being able to wake a pet up and send them home in the best possible shape I can.
What are some challenges you have faced so far (and what has helped overcome them)?
– There are many difficult and overwhelming aspects of being a new graduate vet but one area that I find particularly difficult to navigate is the financial aspect of pet care. At university they teach us gold standard treatment options but once we get out into the real world and start practicing then you quickly realise that many people cannot afford gold standard treatment, even though they would love to be able to do everything for their pet. Times are hard and with the skyrocketing cost of living I am learning how to devise the best plan for a pet based on what owners can afford.
Do your former classmates feel the same or is the experience of being a “new grad” very varied and personal?
– I have new graduate friends who enjoy high pressure situations and thrive in the heat of the moment and friends who are loving gradually building up their skills without being thrown in the deep end. Everyone graduating has varying levels of knowledge and confidence and therefore different roles work for different people.
– Unfortunately there is currently an extreme shortage of veterinarians in Australia which makes finding a supportive new graduate position tricky as we require continuous support from experienced vets in clinic and a lower workload to begin with. One of the main aspects of Gawler Animal Hospital that attracted me was the large vet team that means I always have several experienced veterinarians in the building that I can discuss a case with.
Have the other vets at the clinic given you any sage advice?
– One of the best bits of advice that I am constantly being given is that it is okay to not know everything and that even the most experienced vets come across things every day that they need to go and look up in a textbook. I know I have very steep learning curve early on, but the exciting aspect of a veterinary career is that I will always be learning and improving the care we can give to our beloved pets.