A Day in the Life of a Modern Veterinarian
by Dr. Stacee Santi
I was recently invited to host the pet sessions at Denver Tech Startup Week which was so exciting for me because it brings together my 2 favorite things….animals and technology! Thousands of tech entrepreneurs flooded Denver for 5 days. Sessions were held at various businesses downtown and you could learn about apps, microbrew kegerators, soccer training, and even how to know when the best time is to get pregnant. The animal sessions were the best though! The presenters, Dr. Steven Dow of Poudre Canyon Therapeutics and Dr. Terry Opgenorth of VetDC, showed cutting edge ways that entrepreneurs in the veterinary space are trailblazing biomedical innovations that cure cancer and diseases in animals. They also spoke about the concept of ONE health where veterinarians are described to hold the key that unlocks the cures for similar disease in humans too.
It reminded me of what my life was like in 1996. I had just graduated CSU with my shiny DVM degree and had acquired my first job at a progressive AAHA accredited small animal hospital. Each day, I would arrive at the hospital, put my white doctor coat on and go up front to look at the big book that held all the appointments. I had to write all my charts up by hand. It would take hours. I had to write the directions for the prescriptions on each label. For X-rays, I had to go into the darkroom (the unused bathroom) to dip the slippery films in the 3 buckets of solutions whose chemical names had slipped my mind, all the while enduring tachycardia to see if the films would even possess an image after I was done. If I wanted to know how a patient was doing in the middle of the night, I had to get in my car and drive 20 minutes to look in the kennel. If I wanted to research a case, I had to look in massive volumes of books in the community doctor office. I carried around a green vinyl pocketbook lovingly christened as the “Nerd Book” the first 2 years. It was a well known fact this is mandatory for any new CSU graduate who wishes to save lives.
Now I am a veterinarian in 2016. A lot has changed. My virtual appointment calendar keeps me informed of my schedule. My technicians and receptionists use templates to chart my records for me so I can just approve them and sign my name. The labels are pre-configured for any prescribed medication in the pharmacy so I only click “print”. The X-rays take 5 seconds and come out perfect every time allowing me to maintain a normal sinus rhythm. If I want to know how a patient is doing during the night, I open my app and check my virtual camera in the treatment area. If I want to know the latest about a disease, I consult my VetCompanion app that provides me with the latest information on any disease.
Technology changes things, that’s for sure. It makes my life so much better. It affords me more time to spend talking to my clients, caring for my patients and being up to date on the latest medical and surgical treatments available. It allows me to get home at a reasonable hour to spend time with my family. And when I message my clients with their bloodwork from my practice app, I can’t help but notice the permanent dent in my middle finger on my right hand from all the years of writing up medical records before I had access to technology!