Why did I become an ER vet?
To put it simply, I can’t imagine doing anything else. Since I graduated from veterinary school, emergency and critical care work is all I’ve done. It’s an extremely fulfilling line of work. Obviously, I love animals or else I wouldn’t have pursued a career in veterinary medicine. Aside from working with animals, I prefer a profession with overnight shifts that keeps me in constant motion. This position also allows me to feed my detective, surprise loving, and achieving tendencies.
There are day shifts in the veterinary ER and ICU, but I prefer the evenings and especially the overnights. Since birth, I have been a night owl. Right now, it’s 2:27am and I’m writing this blog. Everyone else in the house is asleep. My dog is next to me, but also asleep. When most other people are winding down for the day or fast asleep, I’m just getting started. Depending on the day, my “morning” coffee may be at 8am, 3pm, 6pm, or 10pm!
Keep You on Your Toes
Good shoes are a uniform must! I wear running shoes to work. Now I’ve never run a marathon, but I can certainly recall some ER shifts that must be a similar experience. Some days, there’s time to set down my things and get properly set up. Other days, it’s hit the ground running with no end of incoming patients in sight. ER work is a great way to get your steps in for the day. Like any proper work-out, there should always be a cool down…which is hours of record writing!
Any type of medicine involves detective work. This is especially true in the veterinary field when your patients don’t speak your language. (NOTE: This language barrier doesn’t keep veterinary staff from talking to the patients). I enjoy looking for clues to determine what is going on with a pet. Definitive answers are ideal, but not always achieved. In fact, there’s a medical term “idiopathic.” It means we don’t have a scientific explanation for the underlying cause of a condition or disease. For example, my dog has idiopathic epilepsy. He has seizures with no definitive cause found on lab work, MRI scan, or spinal fluid analysis.
Every Shift is Different
Variety is the spice of life. “Routine days” in the ER/ICU don’t exist. Every shift is different. I embrace the unpredictability and adapt to the ever-changing ER atmosphere. You never really know what is going to come through the door. Sometimes things are not always what they seem. This lack of regularity keeps things interesting.
So…Why am I an Emergency Vet?
During my drive home, I have time to think back on my “day”. Sometimes I reflect on the immense amount of good my team accomplished. The best feeling is to literally save a pet’s life. Other shifts end on a more somber tone. The worst shifts end with a constant mental rumination about what could have been done differently. I don’t know a single ER professional who hasn’t lost sleep on thoughts like these. But the joy and gratification truly do outweigh the heartbreak. I keep coming back to the ER because I love animals. I have a calling to be there for pets in their time of need. When a pet comes through the doors, I am always ready to give that patient my all.
If your pet ever experiences an animal emergency in the Twin Cities and your family veterinarian is unavailable, both Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota’s Oakdale and St. Paul clinics are open 24/7, every day of the year. Our emergency team is always available to help.