My journey toward emergency and critical care
How does a woman in her early 20s, launch herself into a career of emergency and critical care, in one of most challenging aspects of veterinary medicine and in one of the busiest hospitals in Australia? I promise you, the answer isn’t luck. It is related to building relationships and connections and having the sheer determination to follow my passion. I know those patients who come through the doors are in urgent need of care and attention and this is where I make my greatest impact.
My name is Dr. Brooke and I am an emergency and critical care veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Service in Brisbane, Australia.
I honestly love what I do, you never know what will walk through the door and often it is multiple critical patients at once. The adrenaline and the unknown brings a thrill to this demanding role and each shift I get to make an impact to that pet, their family, and in supporting the team. I was the kid who dreamed of being a veterinarian and never changed my mind—it was always the end goal.
It wasn’t until the start of 2015, when I did my placement at the Animal Emergency Service, I discovered the world of emergency medicine. I realized it was my true passion and the missing piece I needed to become the vet I was supposed to be. It was this that led me to accept an internship at the Animal Emergency Service after graduation in 2017, from James Cook University. This hospital practices the highest standard of patient care with a dedicated and caring team. Ultimately, it was the strong mentorship during this period in which I attribute a large portion of my professional capabilities.
I made my love for animals into a career, however, I would describe the new grad period as a roller coaster. You finish your studies and suddenly you are a Doctor. We graduate with building blocks of knowledge, but somewhat lack the practical applications when we are faced with patients. This is combined with the steep learning curve of client communication and the responsibility of constant decision making. It is a uniquely challenging period in which I saw the need to provide case-based knowledge from inside the emergency room. I became passionate about sharing knowledge, practical education, and inspiring the vets of the future.
I am fortunate enough to be able to visit universities throughout Australia and the world and share my university, new grad, and emergency experience and passion. It is for this reason I share my journey through Dr. Brooke on Instagram to become an advocate for positivity, inspire, and educate. Through this page and my e-book Inside the Emergency Room, I hope to assist in the lives of veterinary students and veterinarians around the world.
Now, I spend my evenings in the emergency department providing world class care, such as triaging cases, managing intensive care patients or in the operating theatre. Most importantly, I spend my evenings supporting and communicating with families through stressful times. I accept that my job is incredible one moment and inexplicably tragic the next. It is not for the faint or cold-hearted, which is what makes it so tough and rewarding.
Making the jump into emergency medicine isn’t as difficult as it may seem. As a student, the first essential step is gaining an externship or placement in an ER hospital. Research the big emergency hospitals in your area or ask your colleagues for recommendations. Ensure you like the case load and you can cope with the shift work. Also, understand that working in emergency medicine and critical care straight after graduation will mean you will have a different skill set to your friends in general practice, starting with a lack of spay and neuter surgeries. Once you’ve decided the emergency life is for you, start applying to emergency hospitals, which have a strong after-hours support system, shift structures which work for you, and adequate pay. It is an exhilarating area of veterinary medicine and I wouldn’t change it for the world.