Veterinary surgeon is full of praise for the support he is receiving at Vets Now
Our newest specialist, Marko Stejskal, has saved pets’ lives all over the world.
He’s now in his third country in a career journey that has taken him from Zagreb, Croatia to Georgia, USA, before landing at Vets Now in Glasgow.
Marko’s main clinical interest is orthopaedics and he is a valuable addition to our already close-knit team of hospital specialists and referral surgeons.
In this Q&A, he tells our content marketing manager Iain Harrison about his career journey and why he chose Glasgow as his next step.
Tell me about your career up to now?
I graduated from the University of Zagreb in 2000 and began working in the department of surgery, orthopaedics and ophthalmology in the same faculty the following year. During my time there, the university developed a close relationship with the University of Georgia and I was lucky enough to be offered a residency as part of that. I spent a month at the UGA in 2010, doing assessments and going through interviews, and started the residency in 2012. After completing that in 2015, I passed the ACVS board exams. I then returned to the University of Zagreb for three and a half years, where I became head of the surgery department. This gave me the freedom to try to implement everything I’d been taught at the UGA.
What prompted you to seek a new challenge?
The role I took on in Zagreb turned out to be much more administrative than I’d thought. So my caseload dropped. After being lucky enough to receive all that incredible training, I found myself in a comfort zone of basically being the administrative head of a surgery department. I had this nice office but I wasn’t doing enough of what I’d trained to do. I could’ve stayed there on autopilot, but I needed a new challenge, a real clinical challenge.
What are your main clinical interests?
My biggest clinical interest is orthopaedics and I have invested a lot of time and effort into training to do total hip replacements. I took two courses, spent time with Mike Bauer in Colorado and Aldo Vezzoni in Cremona, who are among the world’s leading experts in this area.
Why did you choose to join Vets Now?
Somehow, through sheer luck, someone reached out to me through LinkedIn to say Vets Now were looking for another surgeon, focusing mainly on orthopaedics. It was amazing. If I didn’t have that app on my phone in my pocket, I probably wouldn’t have known about this role. It sounded really, really interesting and I knew I’d be living in a great city and that the language wouldn’t be a problem. I visited in December last year and immediately fell in love with the place.
How have you found it so far?
I’m loving it. My caseload has doubled from back home and I’m seeing a variety of different cases, although mainly orthopaedics, which is what I want to focus on. It has exceeded my expectations in every possible way. It’s great to work in a setting where there’s so much teamwork, and so much support from the nurses, other services, and other veterinarians. Obviously, you get a lot more rain in Glasgow than I’m used to but I don’t care. I love living in this city.
What does a typical day look like for you?
In the morning, we examine our first referred cases and decide what treatment is best for them. We then go over our plans, looking at the potential risk and complications for each patient, and discuss possible outcomes with the clients. Ideally, we will do the examinations, diagnostics and surgical planning one day and surgery the next. We typically see cranial cruciate tears, fractures, elbows, hips, all of those things, and also some emergencies.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
One of the things I really love about surgery, regardless of whether it’s orthopaedics or soft tissue, is at some point in a difficult procedure, you might find yourself in a situation where you don’t see a way out. You know it’s somewhere there, but you just haven’t been able to figure it out. You keep working, you keep thinking, and at some point, it just forms in front of you. That feeling that your plan is working for the benefit of the patient is one that I adore. I love being in the operating theatre. It’s my favourite place.
What makes the hospital a special place to work?
The support I get from other clinicians, especially vet nurses, is just phenomenal. It’s a well-oiled machine that keeps on improving. I’ve only been here a few months so there are some things I’m still figuring out and it’s also the first privately-owned clinical setting I’ve worked in, so I don’t have much to compare it against, but it moves a lot quicker than academia, which I like.
What do you make of the facilities?
I arrived here just after they’d renovated, so I walked into a beautiful, new hospital. I remember thinking, ‘I really cannot ask for more because I don’t think I’ll get it anywhere’.
Where do you see yourself in the three to five years?
Right now I’m just giving it all I’ve got. I’m exactly where I want to be and I’m not thinking about moving. I still have a lot to learn about the place and I’ll keep trying to get better. The whole experience of getting myself out of my comfort zone has made me feel younger. I felt the same when I started the residency. All of a sudden I was going back to school with my little backpack and a sandwich. It makes you feel more alive because you’re challenging yourself.
What about the hospital?
At some point in the future, I’m hoping that we might be in a position to offer total hip replacements as this is the pinnacle of orthopaedic surgery. But, basically, that’s it. I’m here to stay and I’m giving it all I’ve got.