Continuing our medical staff spotlight series, SFVS’s Philip Watt, BVSc, MACVSc, FACVS gives us a glimpse of what life is like as a veterinary surgeon.
1. When did you know you wanted to be a veterinarian?
Apparently even as a small child it was the only thing I wanted to do. When I was in high school I debated between human and veterinary medicine and you can see how that turned out.
2. How long have you been at SFVS?
I started in August 2004, so coming up five years soon.
3. What are a few of the most common surgeries you perform at SFVS?
There are a wide range of surgeries that I perform, but certainly cruciate ligament repair is one of the most common procedures. The other common stifle procedure I do is little dogs with dislocating patellas. With two oncologists on board the surgery department sees a lot of tumor removals and some of these require skin flaps or grafts. Last surgery we did seven procedures and all with the exception of a skin tumor removal were knee procedures.
4. I know the tightrope procedure has lots of buzz around it right now. What kind of results are you seeing?
I am finding that not all dogs are candidates for this procedure. The results can be excellent in lean medium-sized dogs. Although they now make a smaller implant for dog under 15 lbs., this size dog does well with a simpler procedure (extracapsular repair). My preference remains a TPLO for large breed dogs although I have had excellent results in some of those dogs as well. I warn owners that not all dogs will have a great result.
5. If there’s an emergency, are you “on call” like human surgeons?
As a surgeon you are often on call. For four years I was on call pretty much seven days a week. Now with Dr. Mehl here I am on call Monday to Thursday and every second weekend, so substantially better but it does make getting away difficult.
6. What’s the best part of being a veterinary surgeon?
There are a lot of good things about being a vet and a surgeon in particular. For the things that we think of as part of our job such as care for the animals and clients I still love being a vet. With surgery you do have an opportunity to make things better quickly such as with an intestinal foreign body or fracture. That appeals to my personality.
7. Do you have any free time? If so, what do you enjoy doing away from the hospital?
I do have some free time nowadays. I do like running and still manage to get to the gym at 6 during the week. I eat out once or twice a week and as everyone knows I love my wine. I haven’t had much of chance at gardening for the last six months but have been known to spend the entire weekend there, and now with spring here will be doing some of that in the new house.
8. Any pets of your own?
I have inherited from SFVS one dog and two cats. Ty is a lab pit bull cross (unless someone asks if he is a pit bull); Max is a Savannah (an interesting personality and I have the scars to prove it); Elliot is a slightly brain dead DSH. They all get on pretty well.
Thanks, Dr. Watt!