Meet A Relief Vet: Lorin Lawrence

We have a stray gray tabby to thank for giving the veterinary profession the gift of Dr. Lorin Lawrence. From multi-doctor practice owner to relief vet, read on to learn about his journey and get some interesting ideas on what to carry with you on relief gigs!

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What inspired you to become a veterinarian?    
I blame it on a stray gray tabby named Tiger that showed up as a kitten when I was 9. It was one of those sweet, affectionate ones that had a way of comforting me when the kids at school stressed me out. My parents were terrible pet owners. Tiger never saw the inside of a clinic except to be spayed and, in her old age, to be euthanized. The vet wasn’t great either, but it opened my eyes at age 12 to the possibility.

What roles have you had within the veterinary profession?
Oh, the usual history is what I experienced. Volunteered for a small animal clinic one summer in college and one summer back home at the one referenced above.

How about outside of this industry?
I was as a graduate student in Animal Industry while waiting to re-apply to vet schools a second time. I was a founding member of a rescue organization in the ’90s. And I consulted with the County Animal Control department on building a new shelter.

What made you switch to relief practice?
Two reasons did. First, I felt I still had good practice skills that I had nurtured for 30 years, after selling my four DVM practice. I moved to Charleston, SC where there is a good market for relief dvm’s. And second, I could use a little cash, since I have expensive pastimes.

What are your favorite things about being a relief vet?
It is fun to see how other folks have designed their office space, their workflow, software, and trained their staff. There is almost universal appreciation from both the staff and the owners. And, of course, without doing locum gigs, I would really miss the patients and their humans.

What are your least favorite things about being a relief vet?
Not being able to follow cases is my biggest frustration.

What supplies or equipment do you bring with you on the job?
Personal stethoscope, 4mm Welsh-Allyn cones, EMLA cream, a Kelly forceps, surgery gloves in my size, scrubs, calculator, sticky notes, and a dry erase pen to draw pictures on tables for clients.

What do you look for in a practice when deciding to cover shifts for them?
They really need to practice current medicine, or close to it. Their staff needs to be able to perform tech tasks since I prefer not to do them myself. I need time to write up notes on each exam as I do them. I need a bonafide lunch break. So far, only one situation in seven years has been deficient in the competency department.

Have you picked up any unique practice tips while being a relief vet? These could be related to medicine, workflow, practice organization, or anything really.
I have three: Respect their staff, get them laughing, bring treats.

What is your most memorable relief job?
There are three: as a daytime emergency doc at a specialty hospital. Very small caseload for me – fascinating specialty cases; in a rescue facility operating on a very thin shoestring budget seeing indigent clients and one local news anchor; in a large 6-7 dvm practice with a well to do clientele that said “yes” to all my recommendations.

What advice would you give new relief vets? (Alternatively, what advice would
you give someone who is thinking about being a relief vet?)
Be appreciative of the staff, don’t leave your medical notes to the end of the day to be written up. Be sensitive to the needs of their clients.

What are your hobbies/passions outside of work?
I love sailing and sailboat racing, bicycling, racquetball, and motorcycles.

Meet a Relief Vet

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