Vet’s Diary: Dominic calls it a day

THEY say all good things come to an end and for me that means a bit of a career change; I feel that it is time to move on to challenges new.

Over the years of writing this diary, I hope that I have properly conveyed how privileged I think we are to do the job that we do in a small corner of the country that has become very dear to me.

But how things have changed since I moved to Northumberland as a very green new graduate veterinary surgeon the best part of 20 years ago.

Joining the Hampden and Simonside Veterinary Group, I was given the gentlest of introductions to the life of a mixed practice vet; blessed with considerate and encouraging work colleagues and even more importantly the most patient and friendly clients. Those things have at least remained constant.

The work seemed very different then, it is amazing how quickly the 90s seem to have dated.

Though the job very much had a foot firmly planted in the future, it also was still strongly connected to the past, a time of James Herriot or in our case the recently retired Duncan ‘Mac’ MacPherson.

Things rarely stay the same for long and the veterinary profession has gone through extraordinary change in the last couple of decades and for that matter is still rapidly evolving.

On the farming front, crises like BSE and foot-and-mouth and the changes in agricultural subsidies have driven veterinary medicine toward herd and flock health and away from the aforementioned Herriot-like ‘fire brigade’ response to individual cases.

I like to think that Alnorthumbria have been at the cutting edge of these developments that are still very much happening on a nationwide basis.

Companion animal wise, a technological revolution has brought the very latest diagnostic tools within easy reach and the accompanied popularity of reality tv programs, starting with the infamous Trude Mostue and the Vet School crew, have raised levels of expectation within the pet owning public.

When I started, we were on call two nights out of five through the week and worked every other weekend on top of our normal working week. Iit’s little wonder that vetting is not a job but a vocation.

Obviously my family life was very different in those days and I am very grateful for our, by comparison, positively luxurious current one in five commitment.

But that said, I still look back with fond nostalgia and not just to be able to say to my younger colleagues that they don’t realise how good they’ve got it now!

All of this has come at a cost; with practices having to invest heavily to keep up with both staff and equipment requirements, it has been almost inevitable that neighbouring practices should join to share resources.

In Northumberland, three long established practices have joined in the last decade; mergers that have facilitated an unprecedented and otherwise impossible level of investment in facilities that can only be good for clients and their animals.

Whichever way you look at it, the job is very different from the one I started all those years ago.

After much careful deliberation, I have made the very difficult decision to leave the practice this summer.

Though I have to admit that there are many things I will miss from the day-to-day life of a veterinary clinician, I feel that it is time for my energies to be directed toward challenges new.

I know I leave things both in good shape and in safe hands.