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So Many Other Things: The Reality of Veterinary Practice Part 17 - Conclusion

Posted in So Many Other Things... @ Aug 29th 2019 - By Michael Weinhardt, Michael Weinhardt Photography
So Many Other Things - The Reality of Working in Veterinary Practice Conclusion

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

Dr Fiona Starr performs orthopaedic surgery. How long will it be before only specialist do this kind of work? 7 December, 2017.

Part 17 Conclusion

Scientists, detectives, carers, shepherds, counsellors, colleagues, mentors, mediators, negotiators, advocates, risk managers.

There are many skills that veterinary services workers will need to have beyond treating sick animals.

The reality is the first couple of years for new graduates are an intense time during which the knowledge and skills acquired through study and work experience are developed to handle the complexities of the job. During this first step into their careers, graduates are fully exposed to the rewards, the challenges and the inherent risks.

It’s a lot to ask of anyone. And although we don’t ask them to work in veterinary services, it’s what we need them to take on to care for our animals.

Anyone who plans to work in veterinary services, and anyone who uses those services, must be mindful of the scope and intensity of a veterinary career. No matter how rewarding it might be, it’s not sitting around playing with cute animals all day long. It’s not easy.

When someone starts in practice, there is a long way to go before they become practitioners.

As Dr Charlie Webb says, “You only learn enough at university to get you through the first day of work.”

Nurse Chelsea Rose (left) and Nurse Kelsey Savage prep an anaesthetised dog for surgery and monitor its vital signs. 7 December, 2017.

Dr Jessica Winsall surveys the hospital board during rounds. 14 December, 2017.

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.

After being given a heartworm injection a few minutes earlier, Millie was administered another medication, this time orally by Dr Jessica Winsall (left) and Dr Grace Butler. Hence Millie's muzzle has been removed. Despite staff efforts to keep her comfortable, Millie's fear overwhelm her. 15 December, 2017.

Nurse Chelsea Rose sits with Tiah who undergoes single-agent chemotherapy (Doxorubicin) to treat aggressive lymphoma. Tiah's owner, Tristyn eschewed an oncology specialist recommendation by her vet, Dr Fiona Starr; she preferred to use Brudine because she trusted the staff. 23, December, 2017.

Diesel is a Shar Pei, a breed wary of strangers and prone to aggression. Knowing this means precautions can be taken by practice staff to keep themselves safe during treatment. 2 January, 2018.

Closing time means sweeping, mopping and cleaning by Receptionist Kelly Haslop (right) and Nurse Skye Longley (left). 13 January, 2018.

Dr Grace Butler, a new graduate in her first vet job, is performing her first major surgery: debridement of necrotic tissue from a cat after a dog bite. It seems as if there are a continuous stream of firsts during the first couple of years of practice. 24 January, 2018.

Dr Karen Viggers (left) uses a portable dental x-ray machine to image a dog's jaw. Dr Fiona Starr watches on. 9 February, 2018.

Dr Deborah Williams (left), industry veteran, and Dr Grace Butler, new graduate. 12 February, 2018.

Wean, belonging to Brudine Nurse, Skye Longley, has been brought in very flat, not eating and with diarrhoea. She's in very poor shape. 16 February, 2018.

Nurse Chelsea Rose returns a dog during the final part of the discharge process. 16 February, 2018.

Nurse Chelsea Rose (left), Dr Grace Butler (middle) and Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson. 19 February, 2018.

Kensie, a Shar Pei, with "Shar Pei Fever", waits for blood test results to determine if there's been any build-up of the amyloid protein in the kidneys, and, depending, if Colchicine should be prescribed. 20 February, 2018.

Dr Gwen Shirlow updates an owner about a case. 20 February 2018.

Nurse Julie Marten uses a refractometer to measure the specific gravity of a pet's urine, an imbalance of which could indicate a range of conditions. 21 February, 2018.

Dr Jessica Winsall and her dog, Narla. 24 February, 2018.

Nurse/Groomer Maree Watt gives Charli a trim. 1 March, 2018.

Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson (left), Nurse Chelsea Rose (middle) and Dr Grace Butler try to sedate Zac. Knowing Zac can be uncomfortable in these situations means they can protect themselves and Zac using a muzzle and a towel. 9 March, 2018.

Bill Frost with Budgie, who is in to get a blood test under anaesthetic to determine whether she has the same virus that her partner Ziggy, possibly died from a week earlier. 9 March, 2018.

Dr Fiona Starr explains to Xarlene Castro why the scheduled orthopaedic surgery on her dog, Oliver, was cancelled. Between initial diagnosis and today, Oliver's body had begun to stabilise the area around his ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CrCL). Specifically, fibrosis had formed in the area around the knee. Surgery would have yielded no significant improvement and opening the joint might have predisposed Oliver to arthritis. 9 March, 2018.

The ability for a puppy like Bailey to bring warmth to a practice is palpable and the therapeutic value cannot be overstated. 15 March, 2018.

Head Nurse Stephanie Robertson mixes IV fluids with a combination of Morphine, Lignocaine and Ketamine (aka "MLK"). It's for a dog needing invasive orthopaedic surgery later in the day. 16 March, 2018.

Dr Fiona Starr performs othopaedic surgery. How long will it be before only specialists do this kind of work? 16th March, 2018.

Dr Fiona Starr palpates Annabelle who was brought in by her owner, Linda Parchi (right), and Linda's neighbour, Chris Foley. Annabelle had been anorexic for three days, was vomiting froth and had blood in her diarrhoea. She could possibly have been suffering a pancreatic episode as she was prone to pancreatitis. She stayed in hospital overnight on fluids, was prescribed metronidazole and amoxycillin and fully recovered. 19 March, 2018.

Better out than in. 20th March, 2018.

Nurse Maree Watt comforts Phoebe, a 15 year old who sadly is about to be euthanised. 22 March, 2018.

Nurse Kelsey Savage in the midst of a busy day. 3 April, 2018.

Dr Fiona Starr on her way to perform a home euthanasia. 3 April, 2018.


Afterword by Michael Weinhardt

I wanted to thank Judy Gillespie and Vetanswers for the opportunity to post this series of articles and accompanying photographs. Veterinary practice workers provide an incredible service that can easily be undervalued by those who need it, and can present a lot of challenges to those who provide it. Veterinary practice is a beautiful human expression of science and caring, a truly noble profession. I hope these articles and photographs, and the full-length photography story on my website, go some way to portraying the basic reality of veterinary practice. Please look after yourselves.

Click here to visit the 'So Many Other Things..' Blog Category to read the entire 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. 

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

Contact Michael via: Website -  So Many Other Things


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