I AM not just a veterinary surgeon.

Oh no, in recent weeks, I have realised that I am also, in alphabetical order, the following: building inspector, carer, complaints handler, confidante and counsellor, dad, dogsbody and drain un-blocker, employer, financial controller, fire officer, health and safety officer, human resource director, husband, litter collector, manager, official ranter and raver, poop scooper, risk assessor, shoulder to cry on, sink plunger, teacher, trainer, transport manager strategist, umpire and writer.

I have also, I am sure, been called a number of other things by staff.

So how do I manage to hold down a fulltime job as a vet and do all the rest as well? Frankly, the answer is, I don’t.

Oh sure some things come naturally to me and require little effort or preparation. The ranting and raving springs to mind as an example.

And other aspects are actually a gentle relief from the day to day stress and strains of general veterinary surgery. Take litter collecting. That’s fun, if you are in the right mood. Every morning and afternoon I pick up the detritus of schoolkids’ breakfasts and dinners.

Sometimes, however, the area around our car park needs a deep clean and so gloves, wellies and leggings are donned and bin bags filled.

It was during one of these annoying litter collecting sessions that a rotund, approximately 12-year-old school child stopped and watched me for a while as he swallowed his macaroni and chips.

He said eventually: “You know something? See if you had stuck in at school mister, you wouldn’t be doing that right now!”

Yes quite.

But I am afraid that, insofar as my other tasks are concerned, I can be sadly lacking. It is far too easy to blame my education. At university, no-one told me I was going to have to do all this. I was just not properly prepared for it.

Nobody mentioned employment legislation, VAT, balancing the books, PAYE, mentoring new members of staff and having children.

My interest then was, naturally, with the animals and little else. And so all the additional roles have to be learned from experience as you go along.

Now this may not be entirely satisfactory but it is all you can do. It requires patience. It requires dedication. But, most of all, it requires the thoughtful understanding of those around you.

It is also difficult to stay focused and remember always that what you do must be in your patients’ best interest. But again here is a dilemma.

Do you buy that expensive blood biochemistry analyser that will aid in the diagnosis of so many but put an extra pound onto everyone’s consultation fee?

Do you send your vets on frequent and costly continuing professional development lectures, leaving yourself understaffed for the day or do you forget about progress and become stagnant?

The answers are often obvious but the hows and the where nots are never that easy.

Please note, no schoolchildren were harmed during the writing of this article.