A career in veterinary anaesthesia
I manage the anaesthesia team at Davies Veterinary Specialists, one of the largest companion animal practices in the UK. Our team delivers anaesthesia, intensive care and pain management to our patients and supports the work of all the clinical services the practice provides.
A typical day
My days are variable, in fact, anything but typical. Generally, I’m based either in theatre or the diagnostic suite.
My role involves assessing cases, managing the anaesthesia and recovery of our patients, and troubleshooting and solving any problems that our vet nurses, interns and surgeons have.
I also deal with cases in our intensive care unit, either assisting other clinicians at presentation of the patient or helping to ensure optimal recovery after major surgery.
Three members of our team are involved in the pain clinic, which is a multidisciplinary department that encompasses the physiotherapy and hydrotherapy teams, as well as anaesthesia and some consulting disciplines. Our team delivers bespoke patient care.
What was your career path?
After qualifying from Glasgow, I worked in mixed practice for nearly three years. I didn’t have a career plan as such, so I let my interests guide me.
In my first job, I worked alongside an anaesthesia certificate holder, who made the subject interesting, relevant and challenging. Initially, I spent a lot of time anaesthetising horses.
What do you like about your job?
We have a cohesive and supportive team of eight staff (some of whom work part-time). We work hard, enjoy cake and do the odd triathlon(!).
What are the main challenges?
The workload, unrealistic client expectations and financial limitations.
What do you consider are the most important skills you have acquired?
Understanding that we are all human and we are all flawed, but we can get along if we compromise, listen and work together.
Realising that you never stop learning – I genuinely think that I learn something new every day!
Who has been your biggest inspiration and why?
I have three – Eddie Clutton, my original mentor at Edinburgh, who taught me to challenge and think.
My mum and dad who said: ‘You can be what you want to be as long as you work hard enough’, and the team at the Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS) in India who always do their best, regardless of the obstacles and lack of available facilities.
Why the WVS?
In January, I went to India to teach at the charity’s International Training Centre in Ooty, Tamil Nadu. It was my fifth trip.
The centre provides practical training for Indian vets and local charity workers, promoting best practice techniques in animal welfare. It also offers specialist surgery courses as well as animal handling courses for local charity workers.
I ran a four-day special training course in anaesthesia for the charity’s staff and external candidates from all over the country, supported by the WVS vets.
It was tough teaching single-handedly for four days, but it was very rewarding to see the participants grow in knowledge and confidence.
The course was enhanced by the generous donation of a pulse oximeter/capnograph from PROACT Medical, which allowed me to teach contemporary anaesthetic monitoring techniques.
What has been your career highlight?
Being recruited into the Royal Society of Medicine in 2014 at the time of my masters graduation. It has proved to be an amazing and ongoing opportunity for professional growth.
What are your career aspirations?
Not to get too out-of-date!
How do you achieve work-life balance?
I don’t (like many others, I suspect). However, I do enjoy running (with my mad lurcher), cycling and anything sporty that involves endurance!
Would you recommend your job to a school leaver?
Yes, the role requires commitment and the passion to work hard.