What do testicular torsion, bird anesthetics and an emergency caesarean have in common? They are all part of the critical care treatment, Dr. Brooke Schampers, gives to local pets and wildlife in need. As an emergency veterinarian, she is providing veterinary services when regular Brisbane vets are closed. Nightshifts, weekend work and public holidays emergencies are Brooke’s daily bread and butter.
But you won’t hear Brooke complain about the hours spent in the hospital. Opposite, Brooke feels right at home in the hospital theatre and dedicates a large portion of her time on the floor dealing with the sickest patients. Finding a good work-life balance is important to Brooke as her job is naturally very stressful and loaded with responsibilities. The confessed chocolate-addict and dog lover, loves exercising in her free time, travelling and listening to music. Back in the days, Brooke sang operas and played the flute for 10 years. Now, she changed the flute for a scalpel and instead of learning operas she’s aspiring to become a Criticalist.
The Brisbane-born and raised girl from the western suburbs always knew she was going to be a vet. Her determination was so strong she didn’t even consider a back-up career plan and now is one of the top guns at Animal Emergency Service in Underwood. With approximately 500 emergency cases annually under her belt, Brooke has helped many local pet owners to get their loved animal back home safely. The cases Brooke deals with can be complex, emotional, and challenging but Brooke gives it her all, no matter what the prognosis for that patient is.
Locals as well as peers love Dr. Schamper’s work and are following her every step on social media. An average 2,500-3,500 people watch her daily Insta Stories and read her articles at the Animal Emergency Service company blog. Her passion and deep care for animals fascinates pet owners and veterinary students alike.
What’s interesting is that the former Middle Park Primary School and St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School student didn’t grow up with pets. No family members worked in the veterinary industry either. She simply knew her calling was to become a Veterinarian based on her love for animals, especially dogs.
Dr Schampers graduated from James Cook University in North Queensland in 2017. Brooke’s initial focus at University was mixed practice medicine. Her focus changed when a friend invited her to do placement with her employer, an Emergency & Critical Care Veterinary Clinic in Brisbane – Animal Emergency Service. Within hours, Brooke knew this was where she belonged – there was something unique about the adrenaline and unexpected nature of emergency medicine. The calling was so magnetic for Brooke, she spent every holiday from 2nd year to 5th year of her university degree volunteering at AES.
“I loved it from the moment I entered the building. I enjoy the challenge of working through complex medicine cases with the team. You work through the patient’s problems, come to a solution, diagnose and treat the patient. Everyone is working together to put together a puzzle and no two puzzles are the same. I never though it was possible to fall in love with a career – but I love what I do.”
Brooke’s dedication during her university holidays caught the attention of Bondi Vet Dr. Alex Hynes and hospital Director Dr. Gerardo Poli who offered her an internship on completion of her degree. In true AES style, Brooke commenced the first day of her internship on Boxing Day 2017.
The AES Internship is a 6-month program developed by Dr. Gerardo Poli. It includes close mentorship with a senior emergency veterinarian, weekly tutorials and concludes with the AES Internship Exam. Brooke is currently studying for this exam while working rostered shifts that challenge the feint hearted.
When asked how she navigates the challenges of shift work Brooke reflects on her personal journey through the 5 years required to obtain her Veterinary Degree. She writes about it so eloquently in her student blog, “The Realities of Vet School.” In this blog, Brooke highlights the struggle she faced when she failed her first quiz and the near impossibility of gaining “straight A’s” in vet school. Nothing had prepared her for that inevitable aspect of vet school. The self-confessed perfectionist put so much pressure on herself, she studied six nights a week and put her body under so much pressure she hit a wall of defeat in 4th year and took time to rest and reset. That trying moment taught Brooke a valuable lesson she shares with everyone, “Take care of yourself. Eat well, have healthy sleeping patterns, exercise and most importantly – catch up with friends and maintain those relationships. We need to take care of ourselves not just our patients.”
Words of wisdom such as these make up a collection of popular entries on a blog Brooke wrote while a university student. Her journey through her emergency internship has been documented on Instagram and proven to be a hit with vet students as well as veterinary professionals.
Brooke calls the Animal Emergency Service and Brisbane home, and this company is the reason why she moved back to Brisbane in the first place. So where does Brooke, the high achiever from West Brisbane, see herself in 5 years?
“Once I complete my Internship exam, the next step is gaining Membership with the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (ANZCVS) in the field of Emergency and Critical Care. I may consider doing a residency in Critical care but to be honest I’ll see how I go in the next few years.”