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The life of a Home Visit Vet
I grew up with an idea of what veterinary work was like based on James Herriot’s books. I had a picture in my mind of sipping tea in lovely family homes while tending to their beloved pets, and making long-lasting relationships with all involved.
Of course, after going through vet school my eyes were opened to modern medicine and the excitement that brings. It is fast paced, dynamic and a real buzz. There is no end to what we can do for our animal friends, both medically and surgically. I began to see myself as someone from ER or Grey’s Anatomy, running around a state-of-the-art hospital yelling ‘STAT’ and being the only doctor in the western hemisphere who could possibly save little Fluffy (possibly while other ridiculously good-looking doctors swoon over me, if the aforementioned TV shows are anything to go by).
Starting practice gave me moments from each of these worlds (minus the swooning). I spent eight very rewarding years working in clinics, with the occasional home visit. Unfortunately, in clinic life home visits usually mean a pet needs to be put to sleep. In addition, to arrange a home visit a vet is required to cover the clinic hours while another goes out to the visit, so running the clinic becomes increasingly difficult if home visits are offered regularly for more routine affairs.
And then came Pawsquad! When I first came into contact with the team they explained the service they had created: each vet gets to run their own mobile clinic in their area. They help you get kitted up and find you willing customers, and days could be spent driving around visiting pets and people in their own homes, getting to spend as long as I liked with each one.
They also explained how, with the help of a great app and several exciting techy solutions, running the service would be very straightforward. Clients contact me via a direct messaging service through the app and store their pet’s details, see my calendar and even book themselves in for appointments with me. For the not-so-techy people I can be reached by e-mail or even the good old-fashioned phone.
At first I was nervous without the security of the clinic walls, wonderful nurses, receptionists and other vets to help in tricky situations. How would I manage on my own?!
Well, I have been up and running for three months now, and I absolutely love it. With the Pawsquad team behind me, any fears I had of going it alone proved very much unfounded; they are with me every step of the way. It really is wonderful to be able to see animals completely relaxed in their own environment; it is also lovely seeing the relief in the owners, having avoided the dreaded car journey with their pet (especially cats!).
I like to enter a house and sit and let the cats come and explore me and my vet bag in their own time. Most cats cannot resist coming to find out what I have in there. When they are comfortable with me being around, I will start to see how they feel about this new stranger conducting a veterinary examination on them. Most are pretty obliging at this point, as long as they can have a good sniff of all the equipment first. This also gives me plenty of time to chat to the owners about all aspects of the animal’s life.
Of course there is a limit to what I can do in the home. Much as I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I can achieve (including taking blood samples from cats on their owner’s knees!), I am not going to start operating on Fluffy on your coffee table! For this I have my lovely partner practice within Edinburgh where I can send patients who need surgery, hospitalisation or diagnostics such as x-rays. Unlike James Herriot, I also have a great emergency hospital which provides out-of-hours care for my patients. I always enjoyed Herriot’s stories of being awakened at 3am to drive out into the freezing Yorkshire Dales to see a cow, but was not overly enthused by this prospect in my own professional life! This service also means that if your pet does need emergency treatment in the night, it will be carried out at a fully equipped hospital, and you can be sure you will have a well-rested vet with you for all other needs.
So I am spending my days mostly on people’s floors being climbed on by their curious cats and waggy dogs, and finding it fascinating, rewarding and very touching. It is always lovely to see how animals are often at the absolute centre of people’s lives; they certainly always have been for me!
Check-Out Martha’s site at Pawsquad Vets