Tom Andrew is a vet at the Korumburra Veterinary Clinic. He started his career with a degree majoring in marine biology and zoology and completed a post-graduate diploma of teaching before becoming a veterinarian.
Why did you want to become a vet and what was your journey to becoming a vet?
I took the long road to becoming a vet. I have always been an animal-orientated person dedicated to achieving a career working with animals and nature.
Prior to becoming a vet, I did a great deal of work in ecotourism. I worked for years aboard the good ship Polperro conducting wild dolphin and seal swims off the Mornington Peninsula.
I also worked in zoological institutions as an animal keeper and trainer.
I was always fascinated by what the vets were doing there and the interesting problem solving challenges they faced, and I figured that was the next calling for me.
A few years of rejected university applications later and I eventually was accepted. It was a classic case of keeping on asking the same question until you get the answer you want.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I like the fact that every day presents you with new and unexpected challenges. You never know what is going to happen at any given moment, I like working on the edge of the unknown.
Best of all I get to work with a large range of animals of every size, shape, colour, texture and smell. Even if some of them try to kick me.
I also love the beautiful scenery that South Gippsland provides when I am out on the road driving farm to farm. Variety is the spice of life and some days on the job things get very spicy.
What is your favourite animal to work with?
This is a tough question as I like dealing with a wide variety of animals. Although not one specific animal, I would say my favourite animal to work with is a wild animal.
I always strive where possible to treat any wild animal brought into my care back to good health in the hope that it will be released back into its natural environment. Doing so brings much joy to the job.
If I had to pick one animal, as a former marine biologist, my absolute favourite animal is the Australian Fur Seal, although I don’t see these guys here in a veterinary capacity I do enjoy working with them immensely when I am working as a divemaster on Polperro.
What is the hardest part about your job?
Being a vet throws all sorts of challenges at you.
Some days you have difficult and uncooperative patients that want to bite and kick you. And some days you have to present grave news to a client about their fur-baby’s poor prognosis.
Resilience is an essential skill in the veterinary industry because there are always difficulties both emotionally and physically one has to deal with on a daily basis.
How was your job changed since COVID-19 restrictions?
It has been business as usual for us, and busier than ever, however, the way we conduct our business is changing on a regular basis with the ever-changing guidelines.
It is kind of strange in the current climate to not shake a farmer’s hand when you arrive on their property as was once the usual greeting, or to be unable to offer a supportive hug to a client who has just lost their furry friend.
Where do you see yourself and the industry in the future?
I would like to say “working from a laptop on a yacht” but I struggle to see how that will work.
Even in this current COVID era there have been discussions regarding conducting tele-medicine, which can work in some capacity.
However, as a vet, it is extremely challenging to make accurate assessments on an animal’s health without actually seeing the animal in front of you for a thorough physical examination to guide your decision making.
Vets are always going to be there in the frontline for animal health. Robots will never take our job.