What was your first pet?
My first pet was a Guinea Pig called Miffy. I think I was about 5 years old and have had an enduring love of guinea pigs ever since, although I no longer treat them!
What are your favourite animals?
Despite coming across some beautiful wonderful animals over my career and being brought up in Kenya, with all the amazing wild animals on the Savannah, the guinea pig remains my favourite.
What is your funniest vet moment?
I was a new graduate and a lady brought in a lovely dog that had been mated a few weeks before and she wanted to know if it was pregnant. I was not sure, so I asked a very experienced vet in the neighbouring consulting room to feel the abdomen for me. She examined the dog and cheerfully announced that she was pregnant, adding to her diagnosis “just like you madam?”. The client said “no, I am just fat”. The other vet exited quickly and left me to deal with the embarrassing situation! I didn’t charge for the consultation!
What is the most memorable or unusual animal you have treated?
I once gave advice on wound management for an elephant with ulcers on his feet.
What is your ultimate veterinary dream?
That is a tricky one. I have been lucky in that I have achieved many of the things I wanted to and I now get pleasure out of the experience of a successful complex surgery, passing on my experience to other clinicians and being part of a team of different Specialists all working together with the same goal.
Davina Anderson tells about her passion for surgery and the interesting career path this took her to.
It never occurred to me when I was at school that I would get the required grades for vet school and so I had accepted an offer to study genetic engineering. However, when I got my A level grades and realised that I could apply to vet school I changed my mind immediately and have never regretted it. I have always been fascinated by animals, particularly their expressions and behaviours and could watch all animals for hours, but I was lucky to grow up in Kenya where there was plenty of opportunities with animals.
I studied at Cambridge Veterinary School and immediately liked surgery, spending extra time in the holidays with the surgery department.
My first job was as a small animal locum in Luton, then I took a permanent job in Surrey in a mixed practice, working all hours and seeing all species. It was really stressful, but I learnt so much more than I would have done otherwise in a more controlled environment and I was lucky that the senior vets were hugely supportive.
I decided to specialise in surgery at a time when there were no recognised specialist qualifications, so I went back to University to do a PhD, during that time the Royal College of Veterinary Surgery (RCVS) developed Specialist qualifications in Surgery and the European College of Veterinary Surgeons (ECVS) was founded. It was natural to take both the RCVS and ECVS Specialisation route and I became a European Specialist in 2000.
Since then I have always worked solely in referral practice, initially at Cambridge University and then later at my own practice Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists. We started in 2006 with 3 vets and 2 nurses and now have over 190 members of staff. Every year I wistfully think we should stop growing but our caseload just keeps going up. I am now head of the Soft Tissue Surgery service and this involves controlling our workflow, supporting the other Soft Tissue Surgeons if they need it, liaising with our other teams of Specialists as well as being part of the Management team that run the Company. I also see my own clinic every week and am very much still a clinician at heart.
Once you are a Specialist, it is not all about seeing cases. I have been an external examiner for vet schools, an ECVS examiner, a member of the Board of Regents for ECVS and finally President of ECVS. I was a founder Trustee of the British College of Veterinary Specialists and continue to contribute to other areas in the profession. I have published research, edited, written book chapters and taught residents in surgery and helped them to become Specialists. It is a busy existence, but immensely rewarding and endlessly challenging – in this job you are always learning something new, whether it is a new disease, a new surgical technique, a management skill or how to successfully build an operating theatre!
Find Davina’s profile here
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