Tell us about yourself!
Hi! My name is Sarah Mason and I am a 22 year old Veterinary Nurse currently working in Sydney, Australia. I have a beautiful dog Sadie, and an equally beautiful (but with an I-Don’t-Give-A-F*ck attitude!) cat Matoaka (and yes.. that is also the name of my blog).
I absolutely love my job. Not a week has gone by that I haven’t gone home from work without new knowledge, new experiences, tears, strength, inspiration, and never without new animals touching my heart.
When did you become a Vet Nurse? Where did you study?
I began volunteering as a kennel hand back in 2014 in a small veterinary clinic (the practice where I am still currently working) and worked my way up to become one of the head Veterinary Nurses. During this time I completed my Certificate II in Animal Studies and my Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing both at my local TAFE. I plan to add to my knowledge by studying additional courses.
Describe a day at the clinic for a Vet Nurse.
The clinic that I work in is very small. It has 2 main Vets, 2 main Nurses (including myself), and then 3 junior nurses who work on the weekends. Throughout the weekdays, one Vet and Nurse will be rostered to work the morning consults and the other 2 for the afternoon consults. The four of us will then overlap throughout the day to get through all the procedures that are scheduled (and sometimes unscheduled!). I am very lucky to be a part of such a tight-knit team. We all work well and get along like clockwork and I consider them my 2nd family (even though we do get on each other’s nerves sometimes!).
One of the main things I love about my job is no day is ever the same as the one before. It can definitely keep you on your toes. Yes, we still have a routine (consults morning and afternoons, surgeries during the day, house calls after surgeries…) but it only takes one client, patient or emergency, and your whole day can change. I tell you what though… You end up going home with a lot of ‘dinner party stories’!
Tell us about your blog (Veterinary part).
I’ve always loved to write, and there has always been 2 things that I not only enjoy writing about, but also discussing. One is my job in the animal care industry, and the other is mental health.
I always thought of starting up a blog but figured that people would be very judgmental or no one would want to read what I had to say. It wasn’t until last year that I wrote a long post on my personal Instagram/Facebook telling the story of 2 kittens that I fostered called Maple and Willow. They started as a rescued litter of 5, but sadly, due to the cruelty that they underwent before they came into our care, we lost 3 of them.. but Maple and Willow beat the odds and made it through! I wrote about how the industry is not always rainbows and sunshine. That it is emotionally tiring… but one successful story, can make all the tears worth it.
The positive and engaging feedback I received was such a surprise. Everyone seemed so interested! It was then that I realised I wanted to write more. I wanted to share my experiences and (from the mental health point of view) hopefully help give people reassurance that they are not alone in how they may be feeling.
So, I decided to bite the bullet and create a blog ‘Matoaka’, and use Maple and Willow’s story for my first blog post. It was still very nerve racking and I didn’t tell my friends or share my blog on Facebook till about 3 months later! I try to remain very honest in how I’m feeling in my posts and I hope that each reader can take something positive away from reading them.
What is your opinion about the Vet Tech/Vet Nurse profession? What is it like in Australia? Are the Vet Nurses satisfied with their salary, work, treatment on the job?
I think that the Veterinary Nurse profession is extremely underrated and overlooked. It is definitely an under payed job, but no vet nurse does it for the money. I would happily continue to earn a low salary if it meant I could do what I love every day.
In regards to treatment on the job, I know I am extremely lucky to have such good relationships with everyone I work with. I do know of friends who are vet nurses, and they have a much more difficult time with how they a treated by certain people in their workplace. I guess that’s one thing to learn though, you won’t get along with every single person you cross paths with in your life, but that’s okay.
We all see dogs and cats every day in the clinic. You are a Vet Nurse in Australia, what is the most unusual animal you had in your clinic? Tell us a short story about the case.
Apart from your typical domestic pets, we do see the occasional chicken, mouse, common ibis, blue lounge lizard. But there is one animal that sticks out in my mind…
I remember I was out the back of the clinic and I heard the other nurse talking to a client that had just walked in. I overheard the client say “it was just in the park!”, then the nurse said “I’ll just go grab a towel so I can put him in an enclosure”. I assumed that a lady had found a lost kitten or bird. When I walked out the front to see, I saw that the lady had a baby possum clinging onto the top of her head! Apparently she was walking in the park and it jumped out of a tree and onto her head! Considering our clinic is located just a bit west of the city, that was a very interesting animal to have a visit from!
What are your plans for the future?
I would love to work overseas being a vet nurse with more nondomestic animals! Whether that be helping out with lions in Africa or volunteering to help animals in poverty-stricken areas. For now, I am enjoying learning new skills and knowledge!
Do you have advice for our readers? (From a Vet Nurse Perspective)
There is always a way to get to the place you want to be. I can remember being in high school and being told by a teacher that I would never be a vet nurse because I wasn’t getting the grades required. They put so much unnecessary pressure on us. My Dad would tell me that there are always different paths you can take to get to where you want to be. I had it glued in my brain that the only way I was going to work with animals was if I got 100% on everything. It was hard advice to take when I was actually in school, but I look back now and realize that it is 100% true.
The other thing that I cannot stress enough, is talk about how you’re feeling. The animal care industry can be extremely emotional, heartbreaking and overwhelming at times. Even though you do develop a thick skin over time, there are always days and certain cases that will get to you. It is very beneficial to be honest with how you are feeling, not only to others around you but also yourself. It is okay to not have a good day.