Dr. Marialisa Laurella, a recent graduate of the University of Guelph’s veterinary medicine program, has joined Dr. Dan Pierroz at the Nor-West Animal Clinic here and is ready to tackle all the challenges ahead of her.
“I knew that when I graduated, I wanted to work in Northern Ontario and I wanted to work at a mixed animal practise,” noted Dr. Laurella, who originally is from Toronto.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, somewhere I’ve always wanted to end up,” she added.
“I’ve known that for years.”
One reason Dr. Laurella chose a practise that cares for both large and small animals is the challenges it offers.
“In Toronto, there are so many specialists and they are easy to get to, so a lot of the difficult cases just get referred out,” she explained.
“And there are emergency clinics, so you never do your own emergency calls and it turns into a lot of spay and neuter and vaccinations.”
Dr. Laurella said while that’s a big part of any practise wherever you go, it’s not as easy to make referrals to specialists in a more remote location like Northern Ontario.
“You have to learn how to do all that yourself. You’re less likely to get bored,” she reasoned.
“You get faced with doing a lot more diverse work,” echoed Dr. Pierroz, noting he originally came here for the same reason.
“You get challenged all the time,” he said. “I still get challenged after 35 years of practise.
“And I think the secret is always trying to tie your knowledge base into the case.”
Dr. Pierroz said he’s been looking to hire another veterinarian here for the past five years, although he has been very happy with the locums who have been helping out—Dr. Blair Simonson (large animals) and Dr. Patricia Danko (small animals).
“But we’re extremely pleased to have Dr. Marialisa with us,” he enthused, citing her really broad knowledge base.
“She has an interest in wildlife, large animals, small animals—very broad-based, which is one of the reasons we were really excited about her coming,” Dr. Pierroz remarked.
“Having that broad knowledge is very important in our area.”
Dr. Pierroz noted there were several reasons why they hadn’t hired an additional veterinarian up until now.
“We have been looking for someone who fits the practise, fits the district needs, and that wants to provide them on a long-term basis—not just looking to stay two-four months.
“It’s difficult to find someone who wants to be challenged by all aspects, large and small,” he added.
“You can find someone to do small, maybe even someone to do just large, but it’s difficult to find them enough work to be full-time large.”
Dr. Pierroz also said a lot of new graduates are looking for a multiple-person practise where there are four or more veterinarians, so there is less on-call work.
“A lot of my classmates are already married or in committed relationships, so it’s hard for them, if they are not already from the area, to relocate their spouse,” noted Dr. Laurella, referring to the difficulties of hiring in Northern Ontario.
“And most vets are women now and if they want to have kids or a family, then it’s hard to do on-call if you plan on having small children,” she explained.
However, Dr. Laurella feels she will fit into the practise here, as well as the community.
“I interviewed at a lot of clinics and I’ve been inside a lot of clinics,” she remarked. “I had a lot to compared it to and I think I chose carefully.
“There were a lot of clinics looking to hire, but to find the clinic that felt right and that I could see myself being long-term, that was important to me,” she stressed.
“A lot of new grads plan on working at their first clinic for a couple of years and then going somewhere else. But I wanted a clinic I felt I could stay at long-term.
“I wanted to make the right choice the first time.”
Having started work at the Nor-West Animal Clinic a month ago, Dr. Laurella said the community has been very friendly and welcoming so far.
And she certainly doesn’t miss the rush-hour traffic of Toronto.
“Your idea of [rush hour traffic] changes pretty quickly. Now if there are three cars coming when I’m trying to make a turn, I’m wondering where all the traffic is coming from,” she chuckled.
Meanwhile, Dr. Pierroz said having Dr. Laurella has been a “tremendous benefit at this stage.”
“We’re looking at trying to get back into more orthopedic work that we used to do, as well as continue to expand services and provide 24-7 care if we can,” he explained, noting the clinic recently purchased plenty of new equipment.
The Nor-West Animal Clinic now is able to provide direct digital X-ray, digital dental X-ray, and laser surgery.
“Having a practise that is well-equipped is really important to try and attract new people,” he stressed.
“If you can’t refer them easily, it’s really good to have all the bells and whistles that you need right here,” agreed Dr. Laurella.
She is excited to learn and garner lots of experience working at the clinic, as well as with the farming community.
In fact, she’s already been out on farm calls with Dr. Simonson and some on her own.
“It’s nerve-wracking the first time you go to a farm because there’s a stereotype that producers prefer the vet with 30 years’ experience that grew up on a farm,” Dr. Laurella admitted.
“But so far my experience with the farming community is they are just happy someone is here to come out, so it hasn’t been an issue.”
“Obviously, we’re looking forward to having her continue that,” said Dr. Pierroz, adding they’re hoping she will be available for large animal calls on Tuesdays.
“She will be very well-accepted in the farming community as far as I’m concerned.
“We’re really please she’s here,” he reiterated. “There are no ifs, ands, buts, or maybes.
“And I certainly plan on being here for a long time,” Dr. Pierroz added, quelling rumours that he is retiring.