Veterinarians are highly trained in providing veterinary care for animals, and they do an amazing job keeping our animals healthy and happy. Outside of the veterinary hospital, veterinarians do an array of amazing things too – such as sports, creative arts, hobbies, raising families and other pursuits.
Dr Hootan Shah originally graduated as a mixed-animal veterinarian in Iran back in 2004, and after emigrating to Australia in 2009 he undertook a further two years of study to graduate as a veterinarian here in Australia.
By day, Dr Shah currently works at Doncaster Veterinary Hospital in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. As a senior veterinarian he is involved in consulting with pet owners about their pets, and performing routine and complex surgeries – including orthopaedics and other soft tissue surgical procedures.
“I feel so lucky to work in a practice where my boss, veterinarian Dr Michael Walczak has not only given me support and confidence, but he has also funded me to do extra surgical training so I can undertake non-complicated orthopaedic surgeries too,” said Dr Shah.
Veterinarian by day - classical opera singer by night
Dr Walczak has also encouraged Dr Shah to follow his dreams outside of work too. By night, Dr Shah is a tenor - a classical opera singer, who performs in charity concerts to help animal welfare groups. He is keen to help pets, wildlife and animal shelters as a veterinarian but on a larger scale than just within the veterinary hospital.
“I sing in the classical operatic style and have been taking regular singing lessons from a variety of famous opera singers and teachers since 2013. Singing is not only my hobby but something I enjoy doing because it is a potential way for me to do positive, impactful things on a larger scale as a singing vet. I decided to start doing charity concerts as ‘Hootan the singing Vet’, and at the beginning of 2020 I performed at a bushfire relief concert for Wildlife Victoria,” said Dr Shah.
Making a difference
Another driver behind Dr Shah’s singing career, is his desire to increase awareness around veterinary mental health and wellbeing. Veterinarians bring their compassionate and caring approach to working with all animals great and small, however there are a range of factors which place pressure on vets as individuals, which contribute to a high incidence of mental health problems within the veterinary profession. Sadly, veterinarians are almost four times more likely to take their own lives than the general public.
“During concerts I have the opportunity to have short talks to my audience - who are generally animal lovers, to make them aware of veterinary mental health issues and expose some parts of the realities of our work, which they may not know about - and from this the hope is that they can spread the word too.”
“This way I feel I have done a tiny bit of my share and contribution to the profession that I love. I have also lost four veterinary friends via suicide, and one was a close friend that I lost recently and this makes me more serious to try and do more of these concerts,” said Dr Shah.
So next time you take your pet to your local vet, or have a vet visit your farm – remember that they do amazing things both within their role and also when away from work too.
Dr Phil Tucak