A country vet’s life isn’t easy

The life of a country vet isn’t an easy one, especially when you are a woman standing only around five-foot-tall and of slight build.

Creswick veterinarian Barbara Henderson defies the image of the strong male attending horses, cows and other large beasts, but she has handled her share of large animals in the thirty years since she graduated. However, she is now backing off a little from working with the big beasts – as she says; “As you get older, you can’t jump out of the way as fast, although it would be good to be able to do more.” Adding “currently I’m looking for one or two more vets to join the practice and it would be great if they can work with large animals”

Barbara trained in Queensland, then moved to Wagga before settling in Victoria working in Maryborough and Ballarat. Once her four children were grown and leading their own lives, she decided it was time to run her own practice setting up Goldfields Veterinary Service in Creswick a few years ago. As one of three veterinary practices in the town, one could expect with so much competition, it may be a struggle, instead the practice is growing and now supports several staff, work experience students and hopefully, additional vets in the near future. Barbara said “there is a large number of graduates locally who are juggling family, kids and work and hopefully they’ll find their way to our door”.  She went on to say “Women seem to be more attracted to the profession – animals can’t tell you what’s wrong with them, so a large part of veterinary practice is intuition and women are pretty good at that. Men have become less attracted to a career as a vet, as it isn’t a highly paid profession. Barbarba explained; “Back in the 90s graduate professions were surveyed as to pay rates and vets came in at only 10th on the list. People think that because vet fees seem high, that we must be highly paid, but overheads are huge and there isn’t much left over at the end of the day.

“It would be good to see some government funding and/or support for pet owners – maybe a veterinary medicare system”. Barbara went on to say; “We do become involved with our clients, both the two and four legged ones. Yes, it can be a hard job, but it’s also very rewarding”

It is well known that people derive great pleasure and health benefits from having a pet or two, or three. The wellbeing gained in caring for a companion animal, especially for older people and those living alone is incalculable. Knowing that they have the support of a caring veterinarian is a great comfort.

Goldfields Veterinary Services is located at 5 Castlemaine Road, Creswick. http://www.goldfieldsvet.com.au