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Georgina Hillier.

My three weeks at the Whyalla Veterinary Clinic has flown by! It is hard to believe how much I have seen and done in just three weeks.

I began this externship lacking confidence, particularly in my veterinary practical skills. Andrew and his staff very soon set about changing this! For example, I had given very few vaccinations before this externship, and had never implanted a microchip. A few hours into my first day and a litter of puppies later, and I had given more vaccinations and implanted more microchips than ever before!

When the vets and nurses trusted me with drug dosings, anaesthetic protocols, intubations, and surgeries from day one I was horrified – didn’t they realise I was an incompetent fool?! As I set about these tasks with their help and guidance I found I was able to complete them – I was not an incompetent fool after all! My confidence has increased tenfold - I am now excited about being a qualified veterinarian in a year’s time – not horrified to the core!

The Whyalla Veterinary Clinic is a very busy practice, which has allowed me to see and be involved in a wide range of cases – from the usual dogs and cats to the more unusual – a ferret, a rat and a horse! I also spent time at the Roxby Downs Veterinary Clinic. Andrew currently practises in Roxby Downs one day each week. As Roxby Downs is over three hours drive away and the clinic is only serviced by a veterinarian one day a week, these days were long and busy, but very rewarding at the same time. I also visited the Cowell Veterinary Clinic, yet another satellite clinic of Andrew’s! I was very impressed by the skills of the vet nurses at all the clinics – if an animal is ill when a vet is not there, the nurses collect a history, conduct a physical examination and then communicate with the vets via Skype. The vets then decide on any further diagnostics they would like the nurses to obtain, and then a treatment plan is hatched! All via video-Skype! Amazing!

The rehoming program at the Whyalla Veterinary Clinic really impressed me. I cannot believe how many animals they rehome! The rehoming program presents a great opportunity for veterinary students to practise their surgical skills, particularly juvenile desexings. Before this externship, I had never spayed a bitch or castrated a dog. By the end of my first week I had spayed two bitches, castrated nine dogs, removed a lump, assisted in a dog dental, and observed two orthopaedic surgeries!

Whilst at Whyalla I stayed with Sandi, the mother of one of the vet nurses (Lena). Sandi was super to stay with! She was an excellent host, an excellent cook, and great company. She even listened to my verbal diarrhoea of the day’s happenings without complaint – maybe because she couldn’t get a word in, but nevertheless!

Thank you so much to Andrew for flying me over to Whyalla, and for providing my board for the three weeks. Thanks also for being a patient and willing teacher and for taking me out of my comfort zone. I was not always happy about leaving the realms of my comfort zone (!), but I am pleased I did – I have learnt so much for it. My first days and weeks in my first job will be all the smoother and more enjoyable for this experience.

Thanks also to the other vets (Hanna and Rowena) and the nurses (Carol, Lena, Karen, Amy, Natasha, Corrina, Lisa, Charlene, Jen, Nicole, Nagar, Carol-Ann, Sharon, and Denise) – your help, friendliness, and good humour made my three weeks very memorable indeed .

Murdoch University, Perth.


"My confidence has increased tenfold - I am now excited about being a qualified veterinarian" Georgina Hillier.