The Daily Grind – Then vs. Now (Part 1)

The Daily Grind – Then vs. Now (Part 1)

There was a bit of a culture shock (no microbiological pun intended!) when I made the move from working as a veterinary surgeon in a busy mixed practice to being a PhD student working in a laboratory. There was a learning curve too. A steep one, which shows no signs of leveling out. I went from being completely run off my feet consulting, operating and dealing with emergencies as and when they appeared to sitting at a desk with a pile of research papers towering in front of me and a lab full of mysterious equipment. It was a bit of a change to say the least.

Here’s a quick run through of the daily grind.


I was working in a busy mixed practice in a rural area. Small animals made up most of the caseload but during the spring-time it was very much ‘one born every minute’ with the phone ringing at all hours to help calves, lambs, and foals arrive safely into the world. Here is what a typical day, if there was such a thing, might look like:

6.05am – My phone rings. I am confused as I wasn’t on call last night and most of my friends and family should still be asleep. I answer. It’s the other vet, she’s just arrived at a farm to treat a cow with a prolapsed uterus and has received a call from another farmer asking for help with his calving cow. Both animals need immediate attention and as vets still lack the ability to clone ourselves, I go to the calving.

6.35am – I’ve arrived at the farm and examined the cow, reaching the conclusion that the calf ‘needs to come out the side door’ in local terms. In other words, I need to perform a caesarean section. I quickly get to work, the calf is alive and I’d like to it stay that way. Soon I have the calf out, and in no time at all he’s on his feet bashing about my legs trying to get to the cow for his first feed whilst I stitch her up. Once I’ve checked them over and made sure all is well, I pack up my things and head back to the car.


8.05am – Driving back into town I debate whether I have time to nip home. Inpatients need checked and small animal consults start at 9am. Despite cleaning myself up as best I could on the farm I am in need of a shower. I have the distinct smell of cows attached to me, and I doubt the pet owning public would want to spend any time trapped in a small consulting room with me. I am also hungry. Very, very hungry, in fact soon I will become ‘hangry’.

8.20am – I nip home and jump in the shower. Toast made, I grab it whilst running out the door and back into the car. I hope the other vet has managed to remain emergency free and made it to the surgery before me. A new vet is due to start soon, to ease the load.

8.55am – Phew! Managed to make it back before onslaught of small animal consults begin! This morning I am consulting, whilst the other vet operates. Some mornings can be busier than others and I am glad this morning is quiet. I see some dogs and cats for routine appointments such as annual vaccinations, treat a few vomiting dogs, a cat with a bite wound and catch up with clients whose animals I had seen earlier in the week.

11.30am – I’ve finished consulting and grab a quick cup of tea whilst making up some prescriptions for animals on long term medication. Then I head though to the operating room to check if there’s anything I can help with. Only one cat castration remains so I do that whilst the other vet finishes removing a mass from a dog

12.30pm – Success! I’ve managed to get some lunch. This has not been achieved for several days, the practice has been too busy and I’ve been out doing other things. I have a few visits this afternoon, including some horses for dental examinations which I’m looking forward to.

4pm – I’m on the way back to begin evening consults but as I pull into the drive my phone rings, it’s the practice and I have a lambing to attend to. Off I go again. Thankfully, it is quite straightforward and with a little bit of help the ewe ends up with two healthy lambs.

image: The Guardian

5.30pm – Arriving back at the practice I’m greeted by a disheartening sight. A full waiting room, with people starting to que out of the door. The surgery closes at 6pm, well, in theory but with only one vet consulting things had gotten a bit behind. Several holiday makers had also appeared without appointments but with unwell pets. We continue on, until everyone has been seen.

7.30pm – At last everyone had been attended too. A multitude of jobs had built up during the day – I had phone calls to return and lab results to check. Cup of tea in hand I made my way through the list then checked the inpatients before heading home to get some dinner and walk the dogs.

9pm – I’ve managed to make it home. Dinner eaten, dogs walked and fed I sit down to watch some TV. Halfway through a new episode of House I hear a noise. Wait? No, please no. Not that good old Nokia ringtone. It is, the horrifying sound of the on call phone which still haunts me now. Jacket on, I’m off to see a horse with colic. I check on the inpatients on the way home.

11.15pm – Back home I crawl into bed and pray that the on-call Gods decide to be good to me.

3am – The phone rings. The on-call Gods are clearly not in my favour. Out I go….

The horror of the on-call ringtone Image:

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