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So Many Other Things: The Reality of Veterinary Practice Part 16 - Full Responsibility

Posted in So Many Other Things... @ Aug 15th 2019 - By Michael Weinhardt, Michael Weinhardt Photography
4. So Many Other Things - The Reality of Veterinary Practice Part 16 Full Responsibility

Holding a mirror to the veterinary industry to show the realities you work with every day.

A photographic documentary that relates what working in a busy veterinary practice looks like - the highs, lows, challenges, day-to-day, unusual and extraordinary.

“If only vetting just consisted of treating sick animals. But it didn’t. There were so many other things.”

- James Herriot, If Only They Could Talk

Millie needs a heartworm injection but fears being at the vets. A muzzle is used as a practical form of protection for the staff that doesn't harm Millie, in case Millie's discomfort spills over into aggression. Mainly, Nurse Julie Marten focuses on making and keeping Millie as relaxed as possible while Dr Grace Butler administers the heartworm injection. 15 December, 2017

Part 16 - Full Responsibility

In preparation for work as a vet or a vet nurse, education is required and significant work experience is essential. As much as university must provide the former, the onus is on the individual for the latter.

Though, no matter how much preparation through study and work experience one has, the first couple of years in practice seem intense, particularly the first job. Why is that? Based on what three Brudine vets had to say, the main reason wasn’t the obvious challenge of starting a new career. It was that flipping the switch to “full responsibility”.

New graduate, Dr Jessica Winsall says, “You were responsible for yourself at university – you studied and learnt what you thought was most important, placements involved testing that study, but you were never held responsible for a case. Coming into work as a qualified vet and having that responsibility to make decisions that could be life changing was the biggest difference and is quite confronting.”

Fellow student, Dr Grace Butler is as clear about inheriting that responsibility.

“I didn’t realise this when I was nursing but, as a vet, you’re the person at the end of the day that takes the brunt for everything. If something happens, no matter who’s caused it, you’re the one in charge, so it’s your fuck up. That’s the biggest difference between my experience as a vet nurse and being a vet: you are the person in charge now. You make the calls.”

With around a decade of experience as a vet, Dr Gwen Shirlow holds a similar view.

“Starting work as a vet is totally different, no matter how ready you feel, and regardless of how much study or how many placements you have done. The biggest reason is the burden of responsibility, in making decisions that can impact on life and death because as a new vet, even if you get advice, it is still down to you, whereas when you are on placement someone else takes ultimate responsibility.”

Nurse Chelsea Rose (left) monitors a patient's vital statistics while Dr Gwen Shirlow operates. 7 December, 2017

Dr Jessica Winsall finishes suturing with a dab of super glue. 22 March, 2018

Nurse Maree Watt (left), Dr Grace Butler (middle) and Nurse Chelsea Rose. Watt has just returned from a shopping trip to the supermarket to buy the consumables that are also required to keep a practice functioning. 19 February, 2018.

Click here to visit the 'So Many Other Things..' Blog Category to read more in the series

About Michael - in his words...

I make long-form photographic essays that are faithful to my subjects and their stories.

I have spent a decade in the USA, Peru, Cuba, and Australia, covering stories about people whose lives I can't not be interested in.

Most recently, I completed a photographic documentary about the reality of veterinary practice, called SO MANY OTHER THINGS. It was shot over a year and released on September 24, 2018.

Previously, I spent from 2012 to 2015 documenting music and friendship in an Australian metal band, FRANKENBOK. The result was produced as a limited release, crowdfunded book that is also freely available as a PDF. Details can be found here: LIFELINE.

Other stories I've photographed over the last 10 years can be found in my ARCHIVE.

Contact Michael via: Website -  So Many Other Things  |  Facebook - So Many Things  |  Instagram -   mwp_i 

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