When someone asks, “What does a veterinarian do?” what is the first thing that comes to your mind? If I had to take one guess, it would probably be” OMG I’m so jealous you guys get to play/cuddle with puppies and kittens all day”. Was I close? I don’t blame you; it’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the job, but also a very small percentage of it. We’ve probably all seen this funny meme below. As hilarious as it is, unfortunately it accurately represents the misconceptions of the true role of the veterinarian. Working alongside the vets at my externship these last few weeks inspired me to share the real “day in the life” of a veterinarian.
The day always starts off quite early, with checks on in-patients and phone calls to update owners about their furry friends who have had to stay the night. It is so important to have a good line of communication with clients to decrease the inevitable anxiety they have over a sick pet. These updates are followed by paperwork to keep records up to date, and must be finished before consultations and surgeries of the day start.
The amount of appointments and operations has a wide range, with some days being jam packed and other days allowing for a breather, maybe even lunch (although rare). We see routine surgeries like spays and neuters, all the way up to complex fracture fixations and amputations. When not in the surgical suite, you can find a vet in the dental suite, performing cleanings and extractions, or in the radiology suite taking xray’s and ultrasounds. There is always a steady flow of patients ready to undergo one of these procedures, and a veterinarian on hand to perform it.
Once ops are finished, the vet’s day is far from complete. Records are still being updated and owner’s being contacted, all in between the appointments that are still continuing throughout the day. Dogs, cats, birds, bunnies and more all come through, with varying levels of ailments. Diagnostics are performed, diagnoses are made, and drugs are dispended appropriately. The vets run back and forth from consult room to the prep room to evaluate blood reports, look under microscopes and interpret a wide variety of other tests, all to provide the best care to their patients. Even when it seems as though the shift may be over, paperwork is still being done, owners still being updated, and emergencies that have trickled through are being handled.
I have never had so much admiration for veterinarians as I do after being around these hardworking individuals. This profession continues to amaze me; one where a surgeon, dentist, pharmacist and educator are all packed into one human being. A profession so multifaceted, the day-to-day role is constantly changing. It’s exciting, challenging, stressful and exhausting, but there isn’t another career I could see myself being a part of.