A day in the life of Veterinarian – Dr Simon Edwards
When I first started working at Willunga Vets a bit over 25 years ago, about half of my work was out on farms. My passion since early in my career was working on with dairy cattle and dairy farmers and that is still true today. It was quite different back then, the farms were a lot smaller and there were many more of them and we would often consult in the morning, go out during the middle of the day to attend to some emergency work while someone else did the surgery then back in the afternoon to consult if needed. We knew where all the best bakeries were, and who made the best chicken or Ned Kelly pies so we could make sure we got a bite to eat on the way around the Fleurieu.
We were a bit smaller then too – only 5 vets (still a big practice in its time) and 7 nurses in the building (The Pampered Pooch) next door to where Willunga Vets is now. Today we have just grown to 14 vets and 25 nurses between the 2 practices and are likely to grow even more over the next few years. Today many of our vets focus solely on smallies (dog, cats’ rabbits etc) while a few of us spend most of our time on the farms (the largies!) or move between both fields (the mixed vets). All of us still do some small animal work some of the time, as needed.
Our days can be very varied. Depending on what we are rostered for the day, we might spend the day doing surgery or consulting, which is where most of you would meet us. This is where we look after your pet’s preventative health care or if there is some illness or emergency. You will see us checking eyes, ears, teeth, anal glands and lymph nodes, heart sounds and lung sounds, belly’s and lumps, all in a days work. For some cases we may need to take a blood sample to check for many conditions, then run and interpret the samples all in our in-house lab, often in 1 day or less. We have expertise in taking and interpreting x-rays and ultrasounds in order to quickly eliminate some very urgent medical conditions.
If you are rostered onto a surgical list you will be administering and managing anaesthetics, IV fluids, hospital care and could be performing or assisting in any number of surgical procedures. While we occasionally will refer a case, most of our surgery is done in one of the purpose-built surgical rooms in both Clinics. These are designed to maintain a very high level or sterility and patient care, keep your animals warm during the surgery as well as monitor heart beats, respiratory gases and blood pressure during the surgery. We may be doing anything from a simple castration or stitch up to complicated orthopaedic surgery or plastic surgery after a tumour has been removed, not to mention advanced dentistry and medical case management.
And….if you’re really lucky you get to on the LA (large animal) roster and head out onto the farms. At least half of the work we do out in the wilds is herd management or preventative health care work. Pregnancy testing, fertility testing of bulls, mastitis and lameness treatment and prevention make up a lot of our work, but we also do some pretty interesting emergency work, such as calvings, prolapses, cuts and injuries of all sorts and poisonings. Some of the most interesting cases require some real detective work to find out why a group of animals have become unwell and how we can treat it or prevent it from happening again. Its certainly not very glamorous but can be a lot of fun and very challenging.
So, there it is, a bit of what we do on a normal day. And why do we do it? Because we love what we do, even on the busy days, the challenging and sad days, there is always the joy of making a difference, helping you and or your pets through a tough time and getting to work with animals. It might sound a bit cliché – but we care because you do, and every day I see the vets and nurses going above and beyond to look after a sick pet or farm animal, or getting all mushy over something cute, and wishing they could steal them away just for a little while. It really is a pleasure to work with this team, and they will always do the best they can to look after your animals and we are lucky to have them!