Why I wanted to become a vet

Roger Salmon

Roger Salmon

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I am often asked why I wanted to become a vet and the answer is often simplified to “because of my love of animals”.

However, there were many other considerations and one was that when I told my father I wanted to be a farmer when I was 10 years old he suggested I should aim for being a vet as it would be an easier life and more remunerative (I am not sure he was correct on either point).

I once asked a colleague owhy he wanted to be a vet and his reply that follows was somewhat self congratulatory and I apologise for that but it was quite humorous.

“I was working on a farm one day and we had been having considerable problems calving a cow.

“The farmer had made several attempts over a considerable time to sort out the problem of four legs trying to come out at the same time.

“Eventually he gave up and rang the vet who subsequently arrived in an open top Jaguar, wearing a sheepskin jacket, leaped out of the car, stripped to the waist and calved the cow in 20 minutes.

“He washed himself off, jumped back in the car, shot off and charged the farmer a not inconsiderable amount of money. It was then I decided this was the job for me!”

I then asked my colleague who this vet was and he replied, to my shock, that it was in fact myself! But to be serious we veterinarians are often faced with dozens of split second, sometimes life or death decisions every single day, mostly without even realising the mental effort required to be able to assess the situations, examine the patient thoroughly and then construct our thought processes and investigate findings to formulate a diagnosis.

Research has shown veterinary surgeons are more likely to commit suicide than any other professional presumably due to the pressure of work.