Tag Archives: murdoch

Not a Real Doctor (#21)


I often say “I should have gone to med school instead”, but last weekend for the first time in my life I meant it. I’ve wanted to be a vet since I was 9 years old, and I gave up everything to chase that dream. It was the only thing I have ever wanted to do, despite the low wage, lack of recognition and high suicide rates. But final year has broken me.

I am absolutely drained, not simply of energy but also of passion and conviction. Hard as I try I cannot will myself to pick up my books and study for yet another exam. I’ve recently been contemplating the idea that it simply isn’t worth it. All that effort put in and abuse taken, and almost half a million dollars in university fees, for a lifetime of shitty pay and a lack of recognition. To get told you aren’t a real doctor; that you don’t save real lives. No one becomes a vet for the money. But given the work and effort we put into it all, the massive discrepancies with regards to income and social recongition for the human and veterinary medical profession does get to me.

I’ve calculated that I have been made to work 130 hours over the past 2 weeks on my equine rotation.  I know that to register as a vet you need to know about all the different species, regardless of whether you intend to ever work with them in the future. But it is an unrealistic expectation for students to remember every bit of information they had learnt over the past 6 years – especially when they are worked to the bone during the day and have little time outside of work to revise the material. I struggle with equine medicine, having never grown up around horses and having little interest in the subject area, and I got put down everyday for it: told I wasn’t good enough; and that I would make a shitty doctor. On a rainy saturday night I was involved in a minor car accident. I was ok, but my tyre had blown out. I hadn’t a tyre iron with me, and after getting some help from a friend, realised that my spare wheel was flat too. I emailed my supervisors saying that I wasn’t able to make it in time for morning treatments on sunday due to my circumstances, and was met with the cold reply that I should have ubered into work regardless. I think that was the breaking point for me. I called my mom sobbing and spent the next week endlessly worrying that I would be failed because of circumstances that were beyond my control.

I promised myself that regardless of my position in the future – if I ever make it as a specialist surgeon – that I would remember what is was like to be me right at this moment, that I would always treat my peers with respect and compassion. That I wouldn’t allow the stress and pressure get to me in such a way that I became destructive to the dreams of others.

When people meet me they say “Wow you must really love animals to choose veterinary medicine”. But in truth it is because I don’t like people. A dog bites because it is fearful and a lion kills because it is hungry. But we have an ability to be unkind despite intelligent reasoning. It is unkindness without a cause.

Come to think of it, the things that have been getting to me lately have been due to the words and actions of people, rather than my work with the animals. My faith in people (and myself) is broken, but my yearning to help animals remains unchanged. So maybe I don’t actually mean it when I say I should have gone to med school instead. And maybe this isn’t a dream I should give up on just yet.


In the Wattle Tree


My past few days back in Australia have been spent at a small animal & exotics general practice. It is tiring work because my hours are 8am-7pm, and the clinic is a good half hour drive or more out of the city. It’s been fairly interesting though: I have spent the past two month working with dogs, cats, birds and dolphins and now I am blessed enough to have the opportunity to learn about a few common Australian reptiles. I also saw my first bilby- so that was pretty cool. 🙂

I changed my running route today and got momentarily lost. I also talked to three strangers whilst doing my core exercises; I had a full conversation in mandarin with an elderly Chinese gentleman complete with awkward stilts and pauses (as I raked my brain for the right words after so many years of not practicing the language); I discussed the technicalities of climbing with an Iranian agricultural science PhD student; and I talked about pull-ups and cooking with a little Australian boy that smelt strongly of mayonnaise. If you’re wondering why I’m telling you this at all, it is because I generally avoid talking to strangers, it makes me anxious- I usually have to practice in my head (and have even written scripts) of what I am going to say before I have to talk to a stranger (such as when I have to pick up a pizza or make dinner reservations). As such I think I have pleasantly surprised myself today.

Today I realised that I looked up at the trees as I ran; it’s been a long time.

And it made me wonder: if I try hard enough- if I really put in my best effort- maybe I’ll be okay this year?


Scultures and Drugs



Last Friday we skipped out tutorial and went to the beach to look at some cool art and catch the last rays of summer-autumn sun.

This Friday (today) we have a Pharmacology exam first thing in the morning where the passing mark is 90%.
Reason being that you could potentially kill your patient if you make any sort of careless or stupid mistake in your dose calculation- which is very reasonable, I guess. But it also sucks because I have spent three days just doing various calculations, and it really is a very intimidating thought because if we fail this test we automatically fail this unit, regardless of how well we do in our overall grade. And the thing about vet school is that if you fail a unit you retain for that year (and 6 years really is long enough, thank you).

On the bright side, my lecturer is really quirky and cool- this is one of our practice questions. It made me laugh- and then cry because it seemed like such a complicated question (even though it really wasn’t).