One nice thing about my job is that I’m not expected to come to work looking perfect. Because realistically by the end of the day I’ll most likely have been vomited on, peed/pooped on, drooled on, bled on, scraped, and/or bitten. So it would be inappropriate to wear a pencil skirt and heels to work—or anything that might inhibit me from tackling and sitting on a wriggly Labrador as I stick a thermometer up his rear end.
So what does your small animal veterinary professional don while on the job? Probably some variation of the following:
1) Comfortable shoes and socks that can be cleaned easily. I love my clogs. Not only do they give me a couple more inches to reach those top shelf medications, I can also slide them on and off easily. (For some reason I’ve gotten into the habit of performing surgery in my socks—don’t ask me why. Maybe I feel more grounded? I am now conscious that my socks match and aren’t hole-ridden.) My shoes are made of rubbery plastic material that can be wiped clean in seconds; I won’t even tell you how many different animal species have pooped on them.
2) Stretchy pants that aren’t too nice, but aren’t too shabby looking either. This can be harder to find than you might think. And inevitably all my pants end up with holes in the knees—more the right knee than the left it seems as this is the knee I kneel on to listen to the hearts of my larger canine patients.
3) A good stethoscope.
4) A scrub top with a comfy shirt underneath. Yes, this seems obvious. But why? It’s loose fitting, easy to launder and launders well (as it often has multiple bodily fluids splattered across it), and it has POCKETS. Pockets are SO important.
My pockets usually contain: my phone (which acts as a calculator to work out drug dosages as well as access to Dr. Google in a pinch), pens for signing scripts, latex gloves for rectal exams and the like, and a thermometer (I prefer the old school mercury-like type).
5) My large framed hipster glasses. Okay, let me explain–they act as constant eye protection from flying teeth, bone shards, and blood during surgery where normally uncomfortable goggles should be worn. (Also I think they make me look just a tiny bit smarter.)
6) Hair up in a bun or ponytail. Basically out of my face and to ensure no loose strands fall into an animal undergoing surgery.
Large animal veterinary extras:
Though I’m primarily a small animal vet, during lambing season I’m also wearing this:
A) Waterproof wellies/boots.
B) Waterproof pants. (Waterproof everything is key because in large animal, bodily fluids don’t splatter so much as explode all over you).
C) A knit hat.
D) A body warmer/vest. (It’s pretty chilly in Ireland, especially at 2 AM. Also, minimal sleeve-age is a must as I’m probably shoulder deep inside an animal. Which also warrants rectalling gloves the length of my arm inside said vest’s pockets.)
E) A torch or head lamp. (So that I have my arm up the correct end of the sheep at 2 AM.)
Fellow veterinary professionals and clients, did I miss anything? Let me know!