Hopping from clinic to clinic might sound stressful to some veterinarians, but most relief vets enjoy the challenge and change in routine.  If your clinic has had a relief doctor fill in you might have noticed they usually have a briefcase, large tote bag, or large purse in tow.  Not having a “home base” means we have to travel with our essentials.

So, what’s in the bag? Here is my list of items I just gotta have and some that are nice to have.

Just Gotta Have It

  • Stethoscope Littmann Cardiology III (newest version)
  • White coat
  • Writing Pens
  • Reference notepad
  • Sharpie
  • Snacks
  • Hydro Flask Water bottle
  • Scrubs
  • Radiation Dosimeter
  • Phone

Of course we all need a stethoscope for thoracic auscultation. While some clinics will have an extra lying around they usually are old or maybe not the best quality.  Not all veterinarians like to wear their Doctor’s white coat or smock.  I do because I am ALWAYS cold and l like to keep my scrubs or professional dress as clean as possible.  I might need to do surgery or just don’t want my nice dress clothes ruined.  Now, pens. Writing pens in the veterinary world and well any medical field are coveted and a very hot commodity.  Everyone seems to have a favorite brand and I’m no different (Pilot G2 Gel Ink Pen 07 or 05).  And then there are the free ones drug and sales reps bring by or have at conferences. You can definitely hit the jackpot there with the freebies if you’re lucky.  Just don’t steal my pen!!

I still have a small notepad that I keep in my coat pocket that I’ve had since my third year of vet school when we started clinics (this thing is going on 12 years old). Most other veterinarians have something similar, but now it’s likely on their phones or clinic tablets.  Permanent makers are always great to have and I prefer Sharpie brand.  It’s no surprise to many in the field that we rarely get breaks and sometimes don’t even get to have a lunch break. So it’s always good to keep healthy snacks in your bag with a reusable water bottle.  Accidents happen all the time and in vet med it usually involves getting peed on or worse anal glands expressed on your scrubs. So a change of clothes is necessary so that you don’t have to delve into the clinics old pile of oversized worn out scrubs.

I have my own dosimetery badge (Instadose by Mirion Technologies) because I will sometimes have to help out taking radiographs and it is important to know your exposure to radiation in our field due to all the potential bad effects. Lastly, my phone, my everything associated with work and my small business is on or can be accessed by my phone.  I have apps that help me track mileage & time and I have an app for Plumbs’s Veterinary Drug Formulary that I use multiple times throughout the day.  It is also nice to have to snap cute photos to share (with owner permission of course).

Nice to have but not essential 

  • Clinical Veterinary Advisor by Côté
  • Radiology textbook
  • Phone charger
  • Notes from most recent continuing education meeting
  • Quick reference tools (i.e.- Wheel of vomit from Pet Poison Helpline)
  • Scrub hat
  • Pediatric stethoscope
  • Highlighters
  • Hand lotion

So there it is my lifeline to navigating different clinics and being a veterinary nomad.  If you do relief work or mobile practice what does your bag look like? Let me know what you “just gotta have.”  Leave me a comment!!

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