Anesthesia & Pain Management
Six Questions with a Specialty Leader: Anesthesia & Pain Management
Dr. Matt Read is a Board-certified Specialist in Veterinary Anesthesia & Analgesia at MedVet Columbus. In addition to providing exceptional care for pets and their loving families, he serves as our Anesthesia Specialty Leader, fostering connectivity, communication, and collaboration among our entire team of anesthesiologists in MedVet hospitals across the U.S.
Why did you choose to become a veterinarian?
I grew up on a farm in rural Alberta, Canada, with dogs, cats, horses, and pigs. I was always interested in their health and was heavily involved in their husbandry and medical care when issues came up. I enjoyed my science-related classes at school and worked for a vet in high school after interviewing him for a paper on parvovirus that I had to write for my English class. Veterinary medicine seemed like a natural fit in terms of combining my interests in animals and the science surrounding their health. Also, my boss drove a Porsche, which for a farm kid was pretty sweet. I was sold!
Why did you choose your specialty?
While I was both a pre-vet and a vet student, I worked at a couple of zoos and wildlife parks with plans on pursuing a career in zoological medicine once I finished vet school. During those experiences, I participated in a lot of immobilizations and was fascinated by our ability to use different combinations of drugs depending on the species and scenario to get an animal safely anesthetized for diagnostic tests, examinations, etc. and then be able to wake them back up again quickly and completely. It was like magic. As a final year student, I did two anesthesia rotations and decided that anesthesia was where my interests were so I completed a residency in anesthesia and analgesia to made sure I could be the person who would be called upon when someone needed an anesthesia and pain management expert for any animal, in any situation.
What’s one of your best memories of a patient along the way?
I love Golden Retrievers so any patient of this breed that comes through our service makes my day. They are always so happy to see us and seem to be so appreciative of the care we provide to them for the wide range of procedures that Goldens undergo (e.g. cancer surgery, orthopedic surgery, cardiac procedures, etc.). Seeing any of our patients wake up pain-free and stable following major surgeries or big procedures is very rewarding, but when I can help provide that experience for a Golden, it is just that much better!
What accomplishment in your career are you most proud of?
I have done a lot of teaching and mentoring over my career and seeing any of my learners (students, techs, residents, colleagues) have “ah-ha” moments is always very rewarding to me. I have also done quite a bit of research and teaching that has changed how people practice anesthesia and being able to have a multiplier-effect that improves the care of many more animals than I can treat myself is also very gratifying. I love to empower other people with new skills and knowledge and seeing them put these things into action on their own patients is awesome!
What advice would you have for someone considering veterinary medicine and your specialty in particular?
Do your homework. Learn about what will be expected of you on a daily basis and talk to lots and lots of people who are already in the profession. Get a feel for the field and explore as many of the different aspects of it as you can. It is not an easy profession and the length and cost of your education will likely not be in line with the career earnings that that you will ultimately be paid compared to other professions such as medicine, dentistry, or law. However, veterinary medicine is incredible in that it offers an incomparable number of career options once you graduate with your DVM degree. You can literally do almost anything, anywhere, with anyone. Not many professions can offer this type of flexibility.
Veterinary Anesthesiology is a rapidly growing specialty that offers all kinds of career opportunities ranging from research and teaching to clinical practice and consulting. The majority of anesthesiologists work in large specialty hospitals, universities, or pharmaceutical companies, but many are now self-employed and limit their scope of practice to consulting on certain species (e.g. small animal, equine, zoo, lab animal). You can also pursue special interests within anesthesiology such as regional anesthesia, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, etc. There are job openings all over the world and the shortage of anesthesiologists will not be met for at least 20 years so if you like the interactions between physiology and pharmacology, making sure patients are advocated for, and that they receive the best possible level of medical care, it’s a great career choice and the world will be your oyster.
What are you most excited about/proud of for the anesthesia and pain management specialty at MedVet?
Our great (and growing!) team of anesthesiologists (affectionately referred to as the “A-team”) has a passion for delivering advanced patient care. Even though we work in different hospitals that are spread out across the country, we are a tight-knit group and have developed a community of practice that supports each other’s personal and professional growth through team meetings, virtual journal clubs, rounds presentations, etc. Doctors in our anesthesia team epitomize the pillars of Teamwork, Leadership, and Compassion, and by providing advanced-level anesthesia and pain management, we contribute immensely to the success of MedVet and its mission of Leading Specialty Healthcare for Pets.
Get to know more about Dr. Matt Read.