Ever thought of becoming a vet?
Industry brings options
Being a veterinarian is an interesting, rewarding, important but tough job.
After nearly 30 years as a vet, for the most part I still very much enjoy it.
Don’t get me wrong: some days I wish I’d stayed in bed, but generally I get a lot of satisfaction from being a vet.
With a vet degree you can work in a rural practice with farmers and their livestock, work as a companion animal vet, treating pets as part of families, work with horses in the racing and bloodstock industries.
You can work in agricultural and veterinary medical research, either for universities, government agencies like AgResearch or private companies.
You can work for the biggest single employer of vets in New Zealand, the Ministry of Primary Industries, the new name for MAF, in biosecurity, quality assurance or diagnostics.
There are plenty of options including the rare zoo vet job.
I worked in mixed practice (farm animals and pets) for most of my first 10 years, but moved more into pet practice during that time because I liked the surgery and ability to treat pets in the same ways that doctors can help people.
The difference is that as a vet I undertake a huge array of roles every day.
I can be a GP, surgeon, radiologist, dentist, pharmacist, behaviourist, lab technician, oncologist and funeral director all in one day.
Then there are all the different animals we see. Granted it’s mainly cats and dogs, but the rabbits, rats, guinea pigs, birds, turtles and other reptiles keep it all very interesting.
I can’t remember the last time I was bored.
The big problem is that there are never enough hours in a day.
We are a standard medical practice doing check-ups and see sick pets.
As well we are an A& E department for emergencies, hospital surgery really sick pets, lab, X-ray clinic, pharmacy and pet store, providing food and goodies for pets.
It is rewarding in that we help pets have better quality lives and therefore make a positive difference to their owners’ lives.
When we can’t do any more we can still help gently ease those pets out of any further pain or suffering.
That’s one of the tough parts of the job, but when done with care and respect, can be satisfying.
In Wellington we’re lucky we don’t have to do the hard afterhours work many of our colleagues around the country do, although we still work long hours, including rostered evenings and weekends.
Our main hospital clinics are open more than 60 hours a week. The After Hours Vet Clinic is open every hour we are not.
If you’re not too sure about a job as a vet, then being a vet nurse is an option.
We employ only qualified vet nurses capable of helping with surgery, doing lab work, taking X- rays and helping with the healthy and sick pets that come to the clinics every day.
Our vet nurses also perform consultations on weight management, run our puppy preschool and manage our cattery. They are an essential part of a good vet practice.
If you have ever thought about a job as a vet or a vet nurse, check out the info section on our website rappaw.co.nz.
Dr Ian Schraa owns Rappaw Veterinary Care.
Loving their work: The staff at Rappaw prepare a dog for surgery. From left, Michelle Seiringer, Ian Schraa and Tina Boonen.