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 has a passion for exercising, travelling and listening to music in her free time. Back in the days, Brooke sang operas and played the flute for 10 years. Now, she has swapped 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 most well-known emergency veterinarians at Animal Emergency Service, sharing her time between the Underwood and Jindalee hospitals. With approximately 500 emergency cases annually under her belt, Brooke has helped to return many sick Brisbane pets back home to their families. 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 about her patients on the Animal Emergency Service 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, nor did any of her family members work in the veterinary industry. She simply just 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 she was invited to do a placement with an emergency & critical care veterinary clinic in Brisbane – Animal Emergency Service. Within hours of starting her placement, Brooke knew she belonged in an emergency room – there was something unique about the adrenaline and unexpected nature of emergency medicine. The calling was so magnetic for Brooke that she spent every holiday from the second year to the fifth year of her university degree volunteering at Animal Emergency Service.
“I loved it from the moment I entered the building. I enjoy the challenge of working through complex medical cases with the team. We work through our patient’s problems, come to a solution, diagnose and treat our patients. The thing I love the most is that everyone is working together to put together a puzzle, and in an emergency hospital – no two puzzles are the same. I never thought it was possible to fall in love with a career – but I have, and I love what I do.”
Brooke’s dedication during her university holidays caught the attention of Bondi Vet Coast to Coast veterinarian and TV personality, Dr Alex Hynes, and hospital Director Dr Gerardo Poli, and she was offered an internship on completion of her degree. In true Animal Emergency Service style, Brooke commenced the first day of her internship on Boxing Day 2017 – one of the busiest days for the emergency hospital.
The Animal Emergency Service 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 an Animal Emergency Service Internship Exam.
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 the fourth 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.”
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, dubbing the company as the main 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.”