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Staying safe amid mobile mayhem
Stress, fatigue, disenfranchisement, faulty machines and chemicals pose serious occupational hazards for large animal practitioners


Being a veterinarian, especially a large animal mobile practitioner, is not easy, and it might even be deadly in some situations. Yet, like all risky endeavors, there are ways to improve one's chances of success and long-term survival. Practitioners should avoid working under conditions of severe fatigue. Working around cattle and horses requires awareness, sometimes quick reflexes and revolves around making good decisions — all of which are negatively affected by fatigue. Driving with distractions or when tired is a very likely way for mobile practitioners to injure or kill themselves. Take a break when needed; have someone else drive for you, and do not stress about getting behind in your day. It might just be the best way to stay ahead in your life.

Use sun block when working outside; wear a hat or other protective clothing, and reduce your very real risk of skin cancer. Make sure your X-ray machine is working properly; use your protective apron and gloves and correctly handle drugs, pesticides and dewormers. Avoid breathing anesthetic gasses, improperly handling chemicals, such as formalin, and be careful when using scalpels and scissors. But perhaps most importantly, learn to appreciate the small moments of fun in your day and the large part you play in the lives of your clients and their animals. Your daily attitude is your best defense, and you can bet your life on it.

Dr. Kenneth l. Marcella is a 1983 graduate of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. Marcella served as assistant professor of Comparative Medicine at the University of Virginia Medical Center and started veterinary practices in Virginia and Georgia. He is presently a co-owner of Chattahoochee Equine, a mobile equine practice in Canton, Ga. He has written numerous articles and book chapters and currently contributes to two equine magazines. He has lectured on topics ranging from endurance issues to polo pony injuries and muscle rehabilitation at national meetings including the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Endurance Riders Association and the American Riding Instructors Association. Dr. Marcella is a member of the Federation Equestrian International and has served as treatment or regulation veterinarian at events such as the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and the 2002 PanAmerican Endurance Championships.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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