Hi Dr. Magda! Please Introduce Yourself to Our Readers
My name is Dr. Magda Upton, I am a 41-year-old veterinarian from Perth in Western Australia. I was born in Poland but Australia has been my home since I was three years old. I am a small animal general practitioner, who also dabbles in casual emergency work and locum (relief) work.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Vet?
I am one of those people who was always strongly drawn to animals. I drew a picture of myself as a vet in a year two “when I grow up” assignment. In later primary and secondary school I entertained the idea of becoming a Zoologist, but then came back to the idea of veterinary medicine in later secondary school, and here I am!
Where Did You Study? And Can You Elaborate on Your Vet School Experience, please?
I studied at Murdoch University in Western Australia. At the time that was the only option available to me unless I wanted to move across the other side of the country at age 17, as Perth is very remote.
I loved my vet school experience and made many lifelong friends. I am currently in the process of organizing our 20-year reunion! I now locum at Murdoch University and can conclusively say that the program is even better than it was 20 years ago, there are a lot of very passionate and innovative people working there to deliver the best program possible.
Locum Life Pros and Cons?
I started locuming for a few reasons: to increase my hours, to broaden my experience, and also because I wanted to try ECC life but it was not feasible to completely change over to a career that involves lots of night shift work.
All of my locum positions have been obtained through word of mouth, which just goes to show how important networking is. I’ve been lucky to be in a position where I’ve been able to keep my permanent part-time general practitioner job but negotiated with my boss to allow some locum work on the side.
I work between two-three shifts a month at a local ECC clinic, and one to two shifts a month at Murdoch University. The pros are that I have seen and learned so many new things, which I have been able to bring back to my regular job.
I have been able to network and meet a ton of new people which has been great. There aren’t really any cons because I don’t rely on it as a sole source of income, and have been able to keep the shifts super flexible. I do have to put my kids in before school care when I work at Murdoch, and I lose some sleep at ECC, but it’s nothing that I and the family can’t manage!
What is Your Most Memorable Case?
I always tell the story about a dog that I saw when I was a recent graduate. Chelsea was an older Jack Russell that had been attacked by a much larger dog. Several intercostal muscles had been torn and she had a pneumothorax.
Chelsea presented on a busy Saturday consulting shift, where I was solo with one nurse. It wasn’t a well-equipped clinic, and Chelsea was quite stable on presentation, so it wasn’t until I put her under and she crashed, that I realized the extent of the injuries!
With pure grit, IPPV from my nurse, and Murdoch University ECC on speakerphone, I managed to save her life. I was talked through how to place a chest tube, which is not something I had done before at that point.
She also went into cardiac arrest twice, and both times I bought her back with direct cardiac massage (I had her heart in full view). Considering how ill experienced I was at the time and the conditions I was working in, I am to this day amazed at what we achieved and it remains my proudest moment! Chelsea’s owner gave me a signed photo of her, and I still have it on my bookshelf to this day
What do You do For Fun or in Your (Little) Free Time?
As a mother of three, most of my spare time is spent looking after my house and family. My kids all do 1-2 sports and 1-2 instruments each, so it’s a lot of driving them around and nagging them to practice, as well as daily homework, cooking, and cleaning.
I have carved out some time for myself though – in my limited spare time I am learning to play the cello and during summer I volunteer as a lifeguard with my local surf club.
My other big hobby is my Instagram account, I love connecting with veterinary professionals from around the world!
What Advice do You Have for Our Veterinary Student Audience?
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Remember that you’re never too old. You have one life, live it well. Listen to your clients and show them compassion.