Dr Alex Smith

Job: Veterinarian     Area: Canterbury

Dr Alex Smith

Brief introduction about yourself?
I am originally from Wales and have been working as a Vet in New Zealand for over two years. I work for a Vet Service called Paddock Vets who specialise in dairy.

What your typical day is like?
The type and amount of work for vets varies with the farming seasons. It’s safe to say no two days are the same. Usually calving in winter is the busiest season and during that time I will be out and about on the farm calving cows, looking after sick cows, and gradually more routine work will begin like post calving checks and then mating will start.

How did you get to where you are now?
I took a five year veterinary program at university. The first three years were pre-clinical which offered a basic grounding in physiology, biochemistry, anatomy etc., and then two years of clinical training with a variety of work placements on different farms.

What you love most about your job?
After being a vet for nearly five years I find that work satisfaction isn’t what I expected. I thought the hands-on side of the job, like calvings and cesareans, would be the best part about what  I do, but I discovered that it’s actually the social side that is most rewarding.  The relationships you form with the clients – the farmers – you end up building a good rapport with these people, and it doesn't always feel like work.

Work and travel:
Becoming a veterinarian has also offered me plenty of travel opportunities. I spent three months in Southern India where I taught vets some basic practical skills and I was also in South Africa for six months on a reserve where I worked on game capture and a special project moving black rhino into Malawi.

What do you need to do your job well?
I enjoy working more than I did studying; I wasn't a natural student. Being an A-grade student doesn't necessarily make you a better vet. People skills, practical skills, thinking outside the box – those sorts of things are much more important than knowing every disease under the sun.

What are your goals for the future?
Opportunities after becoming a vet are varied, such as buying into a practice, starting your own, or the academic route – research and clinical studies.  

Back to The Real World

How did I get here:

School - NCEA: Maths, Chemistry, Biology, English

University: Bachelor of Veterinary Science