What’s Up, Doc? Vet Exposed

How does a boy from Warwickshire come to practise veterinary medicine at Valley Veterinary Hospital, the largest facility of its kind in South Wales? From his education, through to the best part of the job, we sit down with Dave, and ask him: “What’s up, Doc?”

What made you decide to become a vet?

Growing up living next to a pig and dairy farm, I spent most of my spare time working on our neighbours’ farm. A lot of my teenage years were spent driving tractors, making hay and generally being covered in pig and cow muck! With a passion for the sciences in school and a love of animals, this combination led me to my chosen career.

What is the most common question you are asked when you tell people you are a vet?

Often people ask how we manage to put animals to sleep and that it must be very upsetting. Although it is a very sad time, it is also a part of the job which I see as a privilege to be able to help both pet and owner at their time of need. It is often the kindest option for their beloved pet and many owners are hugely appreciative, despite the distressing situation.

What is your favourite part of your job?

People who know me are aware of my love of veterinary dentistry and my huge passion for animal welfare. With dental disease being one of the most common problems we see in veterinary practice, I find it extremely rewarding to see the difference that can be made to an individual animal after dental treatment is carried out.

What is the worst part of your job?

Unfortunately, discussing money is definitely the thing I like least about my job. Private health care is expensive to provide and not always to appreciate, as most of us are used to the provision of the NHS for our own health care. This means that although our focus is always on the clinical situation we are faced with, it is only right that we discuss a variety of costs and options with owners. This can be hard when people are potentially navigating the worries of an ill pet, alongside financial restraints and potentially other life stresses.

Made made you go down the veterinary dentistry route?

With my dad being a human dentist, maybe it’s in the genes? Haha! Seriously, with a love of surgery and the fact that not all my colleagues enjoy dental surgery, I suppose it just became my thing, and over the past ten to fifteen years I have furthered my own training and skills to ensure I can offer a high level of service. I think the link with welfare plays a big part also.

What would your advice be to someone thinking of entering the veterinary profession?

A love for animals is a given, but a common misconception is that vets choose to work with animals rather than people. A huge part of the job is communicating with owners and ensuring they are able to make informed decisions about their pet’s health care. No two pet and owner combination is the same, which makes it a very dynamic and enjoyable job.

A scientific bias is important, as the majority of what we advise is evidence-based medicine. However, it can sometimes be challenging balancing the growing level of care we are not able to offer in the veterinary world with owners’ wishes and finances.

You must have many stories from your time as a vet?

Many, but probably my most embarrassing moment was when I forgot I didn’t have waterproof trousers on and I pulled my trousers down at the boot of my car when taking my wellies off, exposing my underwear to both unsuspecting horse owner and a vet student.

Would you change your job if you had your time again?

No, definitely not. Although over my fifteen years there have been some stressful and difficult times in my career, I am very proud to be a member of the veterinary profession, and I love what I do!