Rianne Paardekooper has loved animals all her life. It’s not surprising, then, that she decided to become a veterinarian. Rianne currently works in the Rotterdam location of a company called Basic Vets. Now 31, Rianne lives with her husband in Leiden.

“I work for Basic Vets, which is a company of veterinarians located in different cities. I work mainly in Rotterdam at the moment. I’ve been there for about six months now. I work 30 hours per week and have one day off, usually Fridays.”

“I work with companion animals. Dogs, cats, sometimes a rabbit or a guinea pig. Occasionally a bird. I treat Injuries and illnesses and give vaccinations.”

“I’ve always wanted to work with animals. That was the number one thing. But for a long time, I didn’t want to become a veterinarian because I didn’t know if I would like the work. But over the years I got interested in diseases and how the body works.” 

Rianne studied to become a veterinarian at Utrecht University, which has the only training program for veterinarians in the NetherlandsShe is the only vet in her family. “But my sisters kind of followed me. (laughs) They have their own companies now. One has a dog walking service, and the other is a dog trimmer. So now we all work with animals.”

Rianne feels a lot of satisfaction “when people come in very worried and we find that it’s something not so serious. Then they can leave feeling relieved. That’s very nice for the owner. It is also very satisfying when you can solve the puzzle of what a sick animal is suffering from, based on bloodwork or other diagnostics, and help it get better.”

“It’s also nice when you start to get to know your clients, and every now and then a new person. The work is quite busy and challenging sometimes, but it’s also nice to get to know a lot of people and have great conversations with them. That makes it nice work. You work with animals of course, but with people as well.”

Rianne has four colleagues at the Rotterdam location. “We have a small location. But one day per week I work at another location, so I see other colleagues. I’ve realized that I like to work for a bigger company like Basic Vets. We have a lot of colleagues, young people who are motivated. And there’s a good atmosphere. So altogether that makes it very nice.”

“This job can bring a lot of stress, especially on the busy days. The schedule is already full and then another emergency patient comes in and you have to fit it in between somewhere. It can also be frustrating when you want to give the best treatment to an animal, but the owners don’t want to spend the money or don’t have the money to spend.”

One of the most difficult parts of the job is telling an owner that their pet has a fatal illness. “We do euthanasias. That is always sad, but on the other hand, I always tell people it’s good that we have the option when it’s needed.”  

Future goals: “I don’t think I want to have my own practice because it’s challenging enough for now. And as a practice owner, you have all the administration and paperwork things like that … I hope I’m still working for this company five years from now. I feel like I found a good place. I really like it here, and I can grow in the next few years and learn how to do more difficult surgeries. I’d like to add more skills, and to do it all with more ease.”

“Usually you learn how to do things on the spot from a colleague. The more experienced vets teach the younger vets.”

“I see a lot of animals for vaccinations and preventive care, and I hope in the future of veterinary medicine there will be more attention paid to preventive medicine. And I hope people will start to care more about … breeds that have genetic abnormalities and diseases. That people will start to care more about the functioning of the body than what the animal looks like … for example, short-nosed animals. The noses get shorter and shorter because people like that appearance. But these animals often have problems with breathing. Many short-nosed dogs also have eyes that pop out a bit and it’s difficult for these dogs to close their eyes because they are so big. There should be more public awareness about this.”

“Some people don’t want to vaccinate their animals because they think it causes other problems. But if a lot of people stop vaccinating, then life-threatening diseases can come back in in the Netherlands and can be a serious threat again.Although you can never convince all the people, I always try to explain to people who are in doubt why we vaccinate.”

Information about Basic Vets is available at www.basicvets.nl