Q. So Hannah, what made you want to be a vet?
It’s probably a bit of a cliché but I’ve always really liked animals, I was a bit obsessed with animals as a child. I guess as I started to go through high school and realised that's what being a vet was about, and that it was a possibility, I kinda just decided to have a go at it. And once I decided I became pretty obsessed, pretty focussed on trying to get there.
Q. What sort of animals do you work with now?
So here, because we’re right in the middle of a city we pretty much only see small animals, which is dogs, cats, rabbits, sometimes guinea pigs. [Also] wildlife, this morning I saw a baby possum that had an injury, so mainly small animals here.
Q. Is it a different course if you want to work with large animals?
No it’s the same degree, so it’s very broad and it’s actually really hard and really daunting when you first finish because often you’re expected to work with all types of animals in a new graduate job, it’s really quite stressful.
That’s what I did when I first started, worked with some horses and cows and goats, but I just decided over time that I wanted to just work with small animals.
Q. What does a typical day at work involve for you?
So I come into work in the morning and we have appointments scheduled throughout the day.
Appointments can range from checking up a new puppy or kitten and giving it a vaccination, to checking out animals who have been sick or injured or anything like that.
We do fairly complex surgery here as well so desexing, big dental procedures, sometimes bone surgery, so broken limbs and that sort of thing.
It’s usually a very busy day, I get here in the morning and I don’t really sit down until six or seven at night, but it’s good because every day is different.
Q. What do you love most about your job?
I like that I don’t go and sit in a small office and have to do the same thing day in and day out, and I really like communication.
I like that I get to deal with all different people from all different walks of life.
You know, we see people from all different social backgrounds, everyone has different priorities for their animals so it’s kind of like a mixture of problem solving and communication which is really fun.
Q. What’s the hardest part of the work?
A lot of the time when I’m meeting people it’s under very stressful circumstances. So it’s easy if their animal is well, and happy, but a lot of the time people are stressed or anxious about the situation and I have to do a good job to try and help the animal and make it better if it’s unwell.
So being able to balance the communication and actually doing the work is often really hard, and I think that’s something that people don’t really know about this kind of job.
Sometimes we see the typical things that might be a little bit sad as well, but mostly it’s a happy job.
Q. What sort of personal attributes do you need to be a good vet?
I think that you need to be a good communicator, so good at talking but also good at listening to people. That’s something that you definitely get better at over time...
I think you need to be passionate and I think you need to be able to talk to all different kinds of people without any sort of prejudice or judgement; you need to be very open-minded.
I’d say you need to have good observational skills as well, and you need to like study (laughs).
Q. Do you have any advice for teenagers dreaming of becoming a vet?
Sometimes what people think is involved and what is actually involved is a little bit different. I would definitely say trying to go into a vet clinic and watch how a day works and watch what the vets do and that sort of thing.
Talk to as many people as you can to work out if it’s really what you want to do, and try and find people who are already working in the industry to mentor you and give you their own personal advice as you go.
I think it's really important because it’s a big commitment to make when you decide to study, and I think a lot of times it’s not always clear at the very beginning, what it’s like. Although a big part of my job here is working with cute puppies and kittens and doing fun things, you have to be serious when you need to be, and you need to be able to deal with quite stressful situations, so I think making sure that you have experience and that you know what’s involved would be the best thing.
Q. What would a typical starting salary be in your field?
It’s highly varied. It depends a lot on where you work geographically and also what’s expected of you.
The award wage for starting vets is very low, it’s probably around $40,000 a year. [But] in reality a lot of people get paid more than that, so I think probably around $50,000 - $60,000 a year would be pretty standard.