"...All day long I problem solve. Every 15 minutes I am solving a problem. A complicated problem, a terminal problem..."
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. WHERE ARE YOU FROm AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
Dr. Darryl is a veterinarian and has been the owner of Pleasantburg Veterinary Clinic in Greenville, SC since 1981. He earned a BS in Biology from Armstrong State College in 1969. He finished a MS in Physiology and a DVM from the University of Georgia in 1976. Early in his career, he developed an interest in dermatology and soft tissue surgery. He is married with 3 grown children and 6 grandchildren.
What does your typical day look like?
I start the morning treating all sick patients from the day before. I then start seeing my appointments until noon. At noon, I will play catch up and start surgeries that are scheduled. In the afternoon I start seeing appointments again. At the end of the day, I do the afternoon treatments and check on the ones in the hospital to make sure they are ready for the night.
I do all kinds of operations such as spaying, castrating, declawing, and orthopedic surgeries such as broken legs or ruptured cruciate ligaments in the knee. Many times I do tumor removal surgery. If the animal is vomiting and may have swallowed something, we will do X-rays, and if there is no resolution we will take a closer look via exploratory surgery.
We do dental work by putting them under anesthesia to clean teeth, extract teeth, or perform gum surgery. We prescribe medicine if an animal comes in sick and has a skin infection, a bad cough, diarrhea, vomiting, limping, or back pain. to help alleviate the condition.
What aspect of your job is most challenging?
If an animal is sick and I can figure it out and get them back to normal - that is the most fun. Same thing with surgery - if they have a broken leg or they have swallowed something and you have to go into the intestinal tract and remove it. It is fun to solve problems, to repair things and get the animal healthy. That is the most fun part of my job. My least favorite part having to manage a practice - business part.
How has your practice changed since you first opened your doors in 1981?
I have been practicing for 40 years and our diagnostic abilities have improved so much. The equipment we can use and the testing we can do now has changed dramatically. We also have newer drugs to address problems that we could not address years ago. X-ray machines, cold-laser therapy, and in-house blood work is now dramatically different.
When did you know this is what you wanted to do? /Why did you want to pursue this career?
I was in graduate school getting my masters degree, and I knew I would be in science in some capacity. I had to decide if I was going get a PhD, go to vet school, or Med school. I decided not to get a PhD because I would have to take a foreign language - German or Russian. I knew I would not be able to do that. I scratched off a PhD right then and there once I found that out. I thought I would apply to medical school or veterinary College. I had an interview with vet school first and they accepted me, so I said that’s where I will go.
How many years of schooling/what program did you go to?
I took 4 years of college and then 4 years of vet school. My degree was in biology, but we've had someone who worked for us and had a degree in architecture and will be applying to vet school. I think it would help to have a science degree because there is so much data and detail you have to learn in vet school you would be ahead of the game.
What is the work/family/life balance like?
It used to be that a veterinarian took their own emergency calls. So someone would call at 2 am because their dog had just been hit by a car, swallowed a nail or ate rocks. We would go see the dog at 2 in the morning and the next day be absolutely exhausted. If that happens the following night and on the weekends, it could keep you going 24/7. Now, we have centralized emergency clinics so you don’t have to see emergencies. However, there are many hours to generate income to keep a practice going and support a family. As a vet and business owner it can be constant; doing small tasks many times to create an income.
What would you tell someone who wanted to pursue your career?
It is a lot of fun. It is a lot of stress, too. What people fail to realize is that, the pet owner and its problem becomes your problem. Therefore, all day long I am problem solving. Every 15 minutes you have a problem to solve. A complicated problem, a terminal problem. You start carrying the burden and stress that the owner is feeling as well as what the pet is going through. It is stressful in that sense in that there is no relief from the stress throughout the day. Some are complicated; some don’t turn out well. The stress of dealing with an owner that is losing an animal or an owner that can’t understand why something can’t be done. It can be stressful bearing so many burdens for so many people at once.
It is fun, fulfilling, if you like challenges it is rewarding, your mind never slows. You are constantly using your brain and diagnostic abilities so your brain stays very active. Physically, it is demanding. You are standing and talking all day. The person doing this must be able to talk to people and communicate. You have to like people - you are dealing with a different person and animal every 15 minutes.
What other advice would you like to add?
A veterinarian has to realize that the owner's pet is very important in that person's world. You can't dehumanize but must be able to interpret the diagnostics and exam, while recognizing the state of the distraught owner. You must have the empathy and sympathy to be able to relate to that.