A day in the life of a veterinarian
A veterinary friend of mine recently posted about how we are super heroes in our day-to-day life, and it made me really think about all the things I do in a day. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say I feel like a super hero every day, but I do think that there are days that are pretty exciting. And it always sounds better to replace the word ‘stressful’ with ‘exciting’ – it changes the perspective a bit, and makes it a much more positive outlook on the madness that can be in a clinic on a day in the veterinary profession.
So I thought it might be interesting to run through the average day for me…and this past Saturday was a great example of the variety that is our profession! My Saturday started at 6:30am when my alarm went off (playing my favorite music from the best band in all the land – ‘Walk off the Earth’)…which I promptly snoozed for 10 minutes. Listen…I’m pretty active, and I’m really motivated – but first thing in the morning Beth is NOT the best version of myself. Once I’m up there’s letting the dogs out, and making breakfast and coffee, and then bustling off to work! Once at PRAH there were 3 inpatients – a post-op cystotomy (bladder stone removal), and a post-op pyometra (a cute pup who had emergency surgery to be spayed when she had a life-threatening infection in her uterus), and a super sad and sickly feral cat that this kind person is trying to help, who was not doing great. I examined everyone and got updates from our nurses in a quick rounds, and then had a pow-wow with Dr Carpenter to decide who would cover who and call some owners with updates.
After taking a peak at my call list (only 45 calls on it this am – that’s not too bad….), I settled in with my nurse, Sammie, to discuss our appointments for the day and have a game plan. We typically see appointments in 20 or 30 minute intervals, so that ends up being about 14-16 appointments on the average Saturday. On this particular Saturday I had a nice mixture of wellness and medical appointments. We started the day with a super cute rescue puppy with ongoing diarrhea, and got her started on a plan to get her back on track and rule out parasites. This was followed by a poor girl with chronic ear issues that led to a wicked ear hematoma (this is when the ear flap fills up with fluid like a little balloon!) – super uncomfortable! So we drained it and treated her ears for infection and came up with a plan for follow up to try to get it resolved and to get to the bottom of it for her! Next was a super cute dog and cat family combo for vaccines (this is always nice to break up the medical cases, as these tend to be more efficient appointments, and our techs are AMAZING at taking histories and drawing blood, etc before I’m even in the room!).
Then came poor Molly – dog fight victim #1 for the day! She had gotten into a squabble at home with her furry sibling, and unfortunately though both ultimately lost, she had a lot more wounds and some swelling in her legs and visible wounds on her neck and ears! We whisked her away to start clipping and cleaning her wounds, and after assessing them better, found that a few of them needed surgical repair and sutures! Her owners agreed and left her so I could patch her up over lunch! Two more appointments rounded out the morning – with an overweight kitty (who just turns out needs to eat less, poor fellow), and an older terrier mix with chronic skin issues and allergies where we did some bloodwork and management to try to help his super dry skin! Also squeezed in between appointments was saying hello to two of our adorable HH parvo survivors who were in for some vaccines boosters with the techs, and answering lots of general questions from the staff is an ongoing part of the day too. And I, of course, always make time to work in some pictures and video for our social media, and cracking some truly terrible dad jokes to anyone who will listen, or can’t physically get away in time.
Whew, we made it – LUNCH! Guys…I’m not kidding when I say how much I love food – I’m constantly thinking about my next meal, lol, so lunch is huge for me! I grabbed my food and scarfed it down on my way downstairs to give some light sedation to our friend, Molly, and patch up her wounds! After she was done, I added her charges and dispensed meds and wrote out a discharge instruction sheet for her, while toggling through my call list to see how many were updates, and to try to chip away at a few of my bloodwork calls! Oh, and I almost forgot! We also had a litter of 5 Harley’s Haven babies arrive today too! I also did quick exams on these five of our ‘Cartoon Noises’ Litter, and got them ready to go to their foster homes! (Two of which are staying with me – Beep and Boop!!) Before I knew it….it was 1:30pm, and it was time to start appointments again!
Here we go….first up an older husky who was having trouble getting up and down and needed a discussion and plan for weight loss and arthritis management. Then a cute golden with a urinary tract infection (a nice easy one!), and enter another emergency – Lilah – poor dog fight victim #2! Lilah was minding her own business when a non-friend ran up and bit her right in the behind! Ouch! This poor girl had multiple bite wounds around her hind end and was super uncomfortable! Her parents left her as well, so I could give her some heavier sedation (due to the location of her wounds), and be able to better stitch her up, safely. While her wounds got cleaned, I jumped back upstairs to see some kitties – one of whom was the LARGEST cat I have ever had the privilege of examining – Fritz – the 30 lb Maine coon! Yes, THIRTY POUNDS. He was massive!! The biggest cat ever!! And they just needed vaccines, so in and out they went! Then a recheck ear infection on a big fuzzy Bernese mountain dog (it was not better – so new meds, new plan, recheck in 2 weeks!), and back to the laceration!
Poor Lilah had sutures placed all around her rectum and lady bits, such a tough location! Lot of clipping and cleaning, and lots of stitches…but she cleaned up nicely and woke up perfectly, and was sent home with tons of pain meds and antibiotics to get her healed up (spoiler alert – she’s doing just fine!). And my final appointment of the day was with a super cute pup with a little lump we were checking out that turned out to be a BB – so we are just going to watch it. Poor guy is a new rescue dog, so who knows what happened there, but he’s as cute as a button and I think has completely moved on from whatever previous incident that was! He was also just treated for heartworms, and is doing great! So a great way to end the day!
Well, at least to end the appointment portion of the day – then it was back to my office for a snack and to dig into the rest of those calls! Updates, and calling back worried parents, and making plans for upcoming surgeries, and bloodwork results, and talking through quality of life to help a family get ready to say goodbye, and so much more! Finally wrapping up my day around 5:45pm, I closed down the hospital (being the last one there) – all lights off, all doors locked, alarm set, and I’m out! Home to get in a quick walk with Tom and the pups before we lost the light, and then work out with my trusty furry companions who are SO HELPFUL on the mat – then a shower and ending the night curled up in bed with the family watching a movie. Long Saturdays call for relaxing Saturday evenings!
And it’s worth noting here too, that this is just one version of this day from my perspective…but all of our staff from the front desk, to the room techs, to the treatment tech and assistants, and the other doctors – we ALL work hard from the minute we walk in that door until the one where we leave! And our practice couldn’t run as smoothly and efficiently as it does without every member of our team being an absolute badass that I am honored to work alongside on a day-to-day basis!
I did not get all of my charts written up that day….and that’s ok. Sometimes, it is more important to know when you are done, and to come back to them the next day when you are refreshed and have had a break. And trust me, by 5:45pm, I was exhausted! The day of a veterinarian is often long, and tough, and filled with both moments of sadness and moments of joy. It is not always easy, but it is ALWAYS worth it, and I still definitely love what I do and am honored that I get to make a living doing something I love. I hope you enjoyed tagging along on my Saturday – it was a good one! But next time, I could definitely do without the bite wounds, ok universe?