What do CPR, bird anesthetics and an emergency caesarean have in common? They are all part of the critical care treatment Dr Brooke Schampers gives to local pets and wildlife in need. As an emergency veterinarian, she is provides veterinary services when regular Brisbane vets are closed. Night shifts, weekend work and public holiday emergencies are Dr Brooke's daily bread and butter.
But you won't hear Dr Brooke complain about the hours spent in the hospital. It's quite the opposite, Dr Brooke feels right at home in the hospital theatre and dedicates a large portion of her time dealing with the sickest patients. Finding a good work-life balance is important to Dr Brooke as her job is naturally very stressful and loaded with responsibilities. The self-confessed chocolate addict and dog lover has a passion for exercising, travelling and listening to music in her free time. Back in the day, Dr Brooke sang opera and played the flute for 10 years. Now, she has swapped the flute for a scalpel - and instead of learning operas she's aspiring to become a highly qualified emergency clinician.
The Brisbane born and raised girl from the western suburbs always knew she was going to be a vet. Her determination was so strong she didn't even consider a back-up career plan and now is one of the most well-known emergency veterinarians in our hospitals, sharing her time between the Underwood and Jindalee branches. With over 700 emergency cases annually under her belt, Dr Brooke has helped to return many sick Brisbane pets back home to their families. The cases she deals with can be complex, emotional and challenging but Dr Brooke gives it her all, no matter what the prognosis for that patient is.
Locals as well as peers love her work and are following her every step on social media. With over 27,000 followers on Instagram, her passion and deep care for animals fascinates pet owners and veterinary students alike.
What's interesting is the former Middle Park Primary School and St Aidan's Anglican Girls' School student didn't grow up with many pets, nor did any of her family members work in the veterinary industry. She simply knew her calling was to become a veterinarian based on her love for animals, especially dogs.
Dr Brooke's high school days
Dr Brooke graduated from James Cook University in North Queensland in 2017. Her initial focus at university was mixed practice medicine. But her focus changed when she was invited to do a placement with an emergency and critical care veterinary hospital in Brisbane - us! Within hours of starting her placement, Dr Brooke knew she belonged in an emergency room - there was something unique about the adrenaline and unexpected nature of emergency medicine. The calling was so magnetic for Dr Brooke she spent every holiday from the second to fifth year of her degree volunteering with us.
"I loved it from the moment I entered the building. I enjoy the challenge of working through complex medical cases with the team. We work through our patient's problems, come to a solution, diagnose and treat our patients. The thing I love the most is that everyone is working together to put together a puzzle, and in an emergency hospital - no two puzzles are the same. I never thought it was possible to fall in love with a career - but I have, and I love what I do."
Dr Brooke's dedication during her university holidays caught the attention of our hospital Director and Bondi Vet Coast to Coast personality, Dr Alex Hynes, and hospital Director Dr Gerardo Poli, and she was offered an internship on the completion of her degree. In true Animal Emergency Service style, Dr Brooke commenced the first day of her internship on Christmas Eve 2017 - one of the busiest days for our hospitals.
The Animal Emergency Service Internship is a six-month program developed by Dr Gerardo. It includes close mentorship with a senior emergency veterinarians all who have their membership qualification in Emergency and Critical Care. The Internship program also involved undertaking weekly tutorials and an exam as part of the Accelerated Emergency Program, which was developed by our vets and delivered internationally by Improve International for veterinarians wanting to transition into emergency practice.
When asked how she navigates the challenges of shift work Dr Brooke reflects on her personal journey through the five years required to obtain her veterinary degree. She writes about it so eloquently in her student blog, "The Realities of Vet School". In this blog, Dr Brooke highlights the struggle she faced when she failed her first quiz and the near impossibility of gaining 'straight As' in vet school. Nothing had prepared her for that inevitable aspect of vet school. The self-confessed perfectionist put so much pressure on herself, she studied six nights a week and put her body under so much pressure she hit a wall of defeat in her fourth year and took time to rest and reset.
That trying moment taught Dr Brooke a valuable lesson she shares with everyone; "Take care of yourself. Eat Well, have healthy sleeping patterns, exercise and most importantly - catch up with friends and maintain those relationships. We need to take care of ourselves not just our patients."
Her journey through her emergency internship has been documented on her Instagram and proven to be a hit with vet students as well as veterinary professionals. Dr Brooke is continuing sharing her knowledge not just on her Instagram but also on her recently launched website.
Dr Brooke calls the Animal Emergency Service and Brisbane home, dubbing the company as the main reason why she moved back to Brisbane in the first place. So where does Dr Brooke, the high achiever from West Brisbane see herself in five years?
"Once I completed my Internship exam, the next step is gaining Membership with the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in the field of Emergency and Critical Care. I may consider doing a residency in Critical Care but to be honest I'll see how I go in the new few years."