In October, we published a feature on Cutting Edge graduate Annette Vindenes.
It told how Annette, who is an emergency vet in our Gateshead clinic, was given the green light to go to Australia to undertake a six-month placement in veterinary hospitals and clinics in and around Sydney.
Annette promised to keep a diary of her experiences on the other side of the world.
In this, her first two entries, Annette tells how she quickly settled into Australian life and gives an insight into her first week as a veterinary surgeon down under.
Entry number one
After months of planning, I finally set off for Australia (but only after doing an eight-hour mountain hike). I'm very excited, although it's hard leaving my dog with my mum in Norway. The flight involves two planes and takes 22 hours. The weather in Sydney is nice — around 17C — similar to British summer time.
I move into a terraced house in central Sydney, along with two other Australians and a dog. Perfect. It's great having locals on hand to advise me on what to do, beaches to visit and coffee shops to try. Who knew coffee was so good in Australia?
On my first full day, I buy a ticket for the hop on, hop off tourist bus and, over the next three hours, take in the whole of Sydney. The magnificent Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge have been on my bucket list forever, and it's wonderful seeing them.
Everywhere I go I notice the colourful macaws, rainbow lorikeets and ibis flying around. I think to myself: "We only have one life, one life to be the person we want to be, to experience as much of the world as possible".
Yes, we can keep doing the same thing over and over, but in five or 10 years time, do we want to look back and wonder where the time has gone? Wouldn't it be wonderful to experience more of the world around us?
Thanks to Vets Now enabling me to take this sabbatical, that's what I'm doing right now. I'm experiencing the other side of the world for the first time. It feels like a new chapter in my life. As the first day fades, and my head hits the pillow, it hits me. I'm not going to be the same person I was when I left the UK. Travel changes you; you travel to evolve.
Entry number two
My first day at the North Shore Veterinary Hospital is very different to what I'm used to. I walk into a hospital full of inpatients. At Vets Now you can walk into a lot of consults, but you generally don’t start your shift with a clinic full of inpatients.
My first case is a tick paralysis. Tick paralysis is not something we get in the UK, so it's a steep learning curve. It's both scary and exciting at the same time. In my first few shifts, I have to place three animals on ventilators due to tick paralysis.
Animals tend to recover well after two to four days on a ventilator, but if they start having respiratory fatigue without a ventilator, it's likely they will die. It's so exciting to read arterial blood samples and altering the ventilator setting to see a positive change shortly after. Our worst case has a pco2 of 120mmhg and a pH of 6.7. But after seven days on a ventilator, he's able to go home.
The wildlife here is so different to what I'm used to. In my first week, I see water dragons, brushtail and ringtail possums, baby possums, ibis, galahs, macaws, rainbow lorikeets, tawny frogmouths, noisy miner birds, kookaburras and masked woodswallows — and a huge bat as large as two male hands.
I'm looking forward to treating even more unusual species in the coming months.
Annette joined Vets Now through our innovative Cutting Edge programme. Our next intake for Cutting Edge is in April, and places are filling up fast.
We are also recruiting for more experienced vets for AdvantEdge. If you, or any vets you know, are interested in applying, please call the Vets Now recruitment team for more information on 01383 841181 or click here.