It’s a Vet’s World

Host: Dr Jillian Kelly

I’m a vet. A female large animal vet. An awesome vet – not because I can do things more awesomely than other vets, just because all female vets are awesome!  Whenever I meet new people and am making the get-to-know-you small talk and I answer the question “what do you do for a living?” I can almost guarantee I am met with one of the following responses: a) “ahhh…. you’re so lucky, I always wanted to be a vet” b) “my horse/dog/cat has a runny nose/cough/sore leg, what do you think might be wrong with him” or c) “how do you cope being a female vet working in the bush”. I often wonder what standard comments accountants or real estate agents or mechanics get to this question!

I love my job. My caseload consists of about 50% sheep (wool and meat production) and 50% beef cattle, and I focus on herd health rather than individual animal medicine. I spend most of my time out on farm helping farmers improve their productivity, the welfare of their animals and the quality of their agricultural commodities, and ensuring the bio-security of their farms and our agricultural industry. It’s very rewarding and very interesting.

Working on farm with livestock every day keeps things interesting! (Photo Credit: Firefly Pictures)

I’ve always worked in rural areas and always with large animals. I’ve been lucky to work for some great bosses, in some great clinics, and learn from some of the best veterinarians. It’s never really mattered that I am female – after all approximately 90% of graduating veterinarians these days are female, so it has definitely become the norm over the past 15 years or so. There was, however one glaring incident which is clearly etched in my mind. I was working in a clinic, and a stock and station agent rang up wanting some pregnancy testing done on a mob of cattle at the local sale yards. When he was told by the receptionist that I would come out and do the job, his comment was “don’t send me a female vet or I’ll take my business elsewhere”. The clinic rearranged the vet’s schedules to honour his wishes and send him a male vet. I resigned shortly afterwards.

As a veterinarian, I’m never short of funny stories – every day is an adventure. The current front-runner is when a landholder rang up to report several dead animals around a dam – some birds and some cattle, and he was concerned as he thought someone may have “poisoned the water in the dam”. I said that I would be happy to have a look and take some samples and could come out the following day. However he called me back early the next morning to say that he no longer needed me – he had done his own testing. You see, the night  before he had drank a couple of big glasses of the suspect dam water, and rang to tell me he was feeling fine – he had suffered no ill effects as a consequence and so the water must not be poisoned after all!!

So while there is a current campaign to find a new “Bondi Vet”, I hope you get more value out of my week of hosting – less glamourous and shiny maybe but certainly more fun, real and varied!

All in a day’s work (Photo Credit: Firefly Pictures).