Walk through the decades with Dr. Steve
Is being a vet just possibly one of the best jobs in the world!?!
At the end of last year I made the trek to Melbourne for a weekend to catch up with friends from vet school for dinner. The occasion was our THIRTY year reunion! Where on earth did that time go? It was great to see so many of my year level still in practice all these years later and enjoying their jobs despite being spread far and wide across the globe.
I was seventeen when I left home for Victoria’s big capital to start my studies and embark on a career of caring for animals. When I graduated and returned to Adelaide to work there were no specialists here at all and there were only whispers and rumours that one day the University of Adelaide may start a vet school itself out at their Roseworthy campus.
The north of Adelaide was full of suburbs of houses on big blocks of land and pet owners were people who had a dog in the back yard and sometimes a cat……somewhere…., probably, wandering around the suburb and occasionally dropping home for some food.
Just like now, our pets got into all sorts of mischief and there was always a steady stream of accidents and illnesses to deal with. Pets being bitten by snakes, hit by cars, or getting into fights with each other or the occasional lawn-mower, drinking car coolant, eating the fat off BBQs, grass seeds in every possible orifice, and of course the Labrador puppy that ate a tennis ball, then some rope, then a pair of kid’s Power Rangers undies.
It was such a pleasure to be able to fix these animals up and sort them out and send them on their merry way …until the next time! And to see them grow and get older and in that time to get to know their wonderful owners as well. It’s a team game, helping animals, because there is only so much we can do at the clinic and then the rest happens at home. Working out how we together give the best care is a great part of the job.
And pet ownership has definitely changed over the years. Never heard the term “fur-baby” back in the 90s when we were wearing Levi 501s and white T-shirts with vests over the top (they will come back soon I’m telling you!) nor the description of “helicopter parents” of new puppies which is a gorgeous description of just how much some of us adore our little four-legged friends. No longer roaming the realms of the suburban back-yard all night, many of our pets sleep on the bed (if not in the bed!) and as society we have embraced the positive impacts of having pets that provide companionship and unconditional love in our otherwise crazy worlds.
And being part of this journey as a vet has been an absolute privilege. The scope of treatments that we are able to provide has increased immensely and when I walk along our pharmacy and glance at the shelves I can’t help but notice the incredible number of medications that had not even been discovered, developed or released back in the days that I was studying pharmacology at vet school (–don’t worry, I’ve been sure to learn what they are and what they do, it’s been one of the fascinating parts of being a vet over the past few decades).
Just last week Gawler and Districts R-12 School invited us to be a part of their careers expo for their students exploring different industries and professions and one of the most frequent questions the students asked me was “What is the best thing about your job?”. Loving animals, the obvious answer would be working with animals, playing with them, treating them and fixing them when they are unwell….which is all true, but I also found myself saying that from the point of view of a career, it is incredibly INTERESTING. After thirty years I still never know what to expect day to day. I see interesting animals, interesting cases and get to meet and chat with wonderfully interesting people.
Veterinary medicine and surgery continues to evolve at such a rapid rate and we are continually learning, which I also find incredibly interesting. I work with an incredibly devoted, skilled and knowledgeable team and even rubbing shoulders with them as we work together is just so interesting. And above all, animals keep everything interesting!
And layer on top of that how affirming it is to be entrusted with the care of people’s much-loved pets and how fulfilling it is to be able to provide that care creates a great sense of meaning with the opportunity to make a real difference.
So who knows, some people may think there could be nothing worse than dealing with blood, and smells, and mess all day … but for me, I think that being a vet may just possibly be one of the best jobs in the world!