"Have you ever worked in a small practice
where the veterinarian consults and manages the practice and where there is only
one or two assistants during your undergraduate internship?" I had interviewed
this newly minted veterinarian whose resume showed that she worked as an intern
for big-name practices with lots of gadgets and equipment.
Mine is a
small practice and the type of vet I need is the "entrepreneur" type - a
hands-on manager vet who could become a partner later. The type who will take my
frank criticism with no beating around the bush if the new vet's standard of
care is not up to standard. "I don't have time being a nice mentor when the
mentee does not perform to expectations in the diagnosis and treatment or do not
comply with my instructions on the care of patients," I said to this lady vet.
Not the "lazy" vet who needs two assistants at the front desk and two
assistants in the back end.
New graduates want to join big practices so
that they can be mentored and have all the necessary and unnecessary tools to
treat and diagnose. But in 2013, such practices want vets with one or two years
of experience. Every year I estimate around 50 vets would graduate from overseas
and there will be more job applicants than jobs.
Recently I offered a
part-time position to a vet who had worked for the AVA but resigned after a
short period of time. The vet said she preferred to work in a big practice where
could be mentored. In any case, she did not want to work part-time. So, it is
better for her to wait till the right offer from a private practice to come
The new vet has to change his or her mindset. Having mentors is a
good thing but there are not many around. But how do new vets hone their skills
if they can't find a big practice and mentor? Sit and wait till the months pass
by to find what he or she wants?
As for this newly minted vet I
interviewed, I knew she would not find employment in my practice to her liking.
As she had a good work attitude, I introduced her to a bigger practice
and advised her that she should not have hair falling to cover her face during
the interview with me. I was at a coffee shop conducting the interview. There
was an overhead fan whirling. Her hair kept covering her eyes and she kept
holding it back. It was too distracting to interview. So I switched to another
table with no whirling fan. I told her that she was the second lady with falling
hair. The first one was a Myanmar lady whom my employment agency friend Khin
Khin asked to interview. I have no business interest in this employment agency
but helped out whenever I could to prevent this start up from
This Myanmar lady, dark and in her late 30s had a Master's
degree in Library Science. She kept sweeping her long hair back as it keeps
falling down covering her face. First impression counts. She could have cut her
hair short before the interview. Same for this newly minted vet. I don't know
why they don't do it. "I am looking for the 3rd lady with falling hair," I said
to this vet. "Things come in threes." She thanked me for the referral and I hope
she would get the job. Much depends on how the person fares in this interview
but first impressions count especially when the job market is tight.
this newly minted vet worked in a small practice as a locum in Australia? I was
surprised she did. I was surprised that such "James Herriot" practice exist in
"This practice has no gaseous anaesthetic machine," she
"IV anaesthesia is very safe nowadays if the vet knows the
dosage," I replied. "Just insert an IV catheter to do the topping up. All vet
practices in Singapore are mandated by the AVA to have a gaseous anaesthetic
machine. However, most short surgeries can be done without the need for a
gaseous anaesthetic machine.
"In developing countries, the gaseous
anaesthetic machine and the drug are too expensive. A cat spay in Yangon costs
around S$14.00. The private vet in Singapore will go bankrupt charging such
rates. What is the name of this practice? I would like to visit it if I ever go
to that part of Australia as I will learn some skills from them."
reluctant to disclose the name.
"Is the practice illegal, not licensed by
the government?" I wondered how she would be doing her internship there. She
revealed the name.
For the new graduate, "James Herriot" type practices
are old school and to be ashamed of. But this is the wrong mindset. Such
practices cater to a clientele who can't afford the high medical costs of
practices full of gadgets and equipment and they exist in many developing
"The vet must be quite old," I asked. "Such practices teaches
you how to be good at the basic of veterinary medicine and surgery instead of
relying of machines and high technology. Being hands on. Palpation skill needs
to be good as the vet can't rely on ultrasound and X-rays."
vet is around 70 years old," she surprised me as she recalled fondly the
excellent treatment she had with the vets in her 3.5 weeks there. It must be fun
too with such a diversity of cases and how the vets diagnosed and treated them.
"What anaesthesia the vets use for Caesarean sections?" I asked. "Did
the puppies survive?" The vet has a variety of cases from the less affluent
clientele including a pug with a large bladder stone.
"There was an
emergency C-section," she replied. "But I was living too far away to be present.
I don't know whether the pups survive or not."
Of course, in Singapore,
all C-sections in dogs would be done using gaseous anaesthesia. Still I had
knowledge of one case where the breeder complained to me that his Golden
Labrador dam died during C-section. As I know that practice preferred IV
anaesthesia, I wondered whether it could be due to the topping up.
"James Herriot" practice in Australia could possibly be the last one. This newly
minted vet told me she visited the James Herriot museum in Britain. I did not
know it existed. I hope she will find her big name practice to work in. However
there are more smaller practices than big ones. The market rate may be $3,400
to $3,800 for a new vet. "Ask for lower pay to work in a big practice as you can
learn much more," I advised this lady vet as there seems to be difficulty
finding jobs. "Don't be a bean counter, like all accountants. No vet will be
able to repay their parents for the undergraduate studies. In fact, parents
still have to help out with buying a car as it is just too expensive in