In some ways, the waiting rooms of veterinary hospitals closely resemble those of general practitioner clinics.
There's the steady stream of patients passing through the main entrance, approaching the reception desk, being told to take a seat and given a form to complete.
It's 4.15pm on a Friday afternoon at the Uralla Veterinary Clinic and owner Jo Hoad is walking 'Max' out the front door.
Max is a Border Collie who has recently undergone an operation. Half of his side is shaved revealing a long line of stitches, he has an Elizabethan collar around his neck.
As Max jumps into the back of a white Subaru Brumby, Jo explains his condition.
"We took a tumour from his leg, essentially a mass which was difficult as we had to make a kind of skin graft, we had to raise a flap up on his shoulder and we effectively spun it around and attached it to his elbow.
"I'm really hoping it goes well for him, it was either that or amputate his leg," said Jo.
In the space of 15 minutes, two brown Ridgebacks, a kelpie and an old boxer follow Max's footsteps through the front door of the clinic, their owners glad to be taking their furry friends home in a better state than when they were brought in.
A typical day at the clinic for Jo and her team could "look like anything" and at any moment could change at the drop of a hat.
"We'll have surgery booked in for the morning and we'll do consults in the afternoon. I'm often out after hours also,' she said.
For the past 12 months, Jo has been largely running the clinic with a skeleton staff, spending many hours working by herself which she said has been challenging but she has banked on her experience to get her through.
"Once you have been working for a while and become confident in your abilities, you can recognise things for what they are when they come in through the door," she said.
"It can be tricky when you have five emergencies at the one time that's for sure, but that is where our new vets come in."
Jo's associate Susan has been on maternity leave and has recently come back and will work in a part-time capacity. There is also Dr Anne Mette, a vet who has come on part-time and there is a new grad beginning at the clinic early next year.
It's a huge relief for Jo who said there is a 'massive shortage' of working vets in regional New South Wales.
"I know the New South Wales government has conducted an inquiry into the veterinarian workforce shortage issue," she said.
"There are towns in regional NSW that have no vet service at all due to a multitude of factors including vets reaching retirement age and being unable to find someone to take on the clinic, burnout also is a factor as help was unavailable."
Jo said for new graduates coming through, there is a false perception that smaller clinics can be challenging to work, in as there is a fear they might be left alone, however she said they will be supported as much as possible.
"The reality is at least in my view that we try to support new grads as much as possible and mentor them and make sure they get a soft landing," she said.
"I've worked in clinics with ten vets where it seemed the vets were not being supported at all and they have been stressed and overworked, I have also worked with one or two other vets and that environment was absolutely supportive."
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