M. Jankauskas: “In Veterinary Medicine, A Patient Cannot Tell Anything. The Owner Is My Patient’s Voice”

“The further I go, the more I realize I’m on the right path. I also had a chance to work in a people’s operating room, to participate in surgery. It is not a part of the veterinary study program; it is an in-service training. Doctors, I remember, then joked around. They asked whether we learn to operate on humans and then apply our skills to animals. In the past, it was the other way around,” laughed veterinarian Martinas Jankauskas.

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In 2017, Jankauskas graduated from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at LSMU with a degree in veterinary medicine.

 “It was an integrated program, where there was no bachelor’s stop, and after five and a  half years of studies, one got a master’s degree and, after passing a practical exam, one acquired the qualification of a veterinarian,” said Jankauskas.

Currently, Jankauskas works at the University Veterinary Clinic and is also a lecturer and a doctoral student.

Not Everyone Is Destined To Work With People

Why choose veterinary medicine rather than human medicine?  I often get such questions, he says. However, veterinary is like a little sister of medicine.

“Often, such a choice is more of an alternative. „It simply came to our notice then. Because Many people dream of studying medicine, but if you dreamed of being a surgeon as a child, it does not mean that you can actually be one,” stated Jankauskas.

 Not everyone can work with people, in particular psychologically; there is more stress in human medicine.

 “I experienced what it meant to be involved in a human operation. In my work, I perform a number of neurological-orthopedic surgeries, because I specialize in this field. So, in human medicine, I was involved in neurological spinal surgery. At some point, I even felt hot. This requires psychological and physical preparation, not to mention knowledge,” claimed Jankauskas.

As the interviewee said, veterinarians often work closely with physicians.

“We genuinely adapt a lot of things from human medicine. As an example, according to the development plan, we plan to purchase magnetic resonance equipment. Such diagnostic equipment is also expensive and rare in veterinary medicine.

As a result, I had to participate in lectures along with resident radiologists at Kaunas clinics. We learn and acquire equivalent information, and we adapt it in veterinary medicine,” explained Jankauskas.

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Dogs And Cats Express Pain Differently

“It is very pleasant indeed to experience professional satisfaction: when you do something very complicated, you do it very well, in a correct manner, and you get a good result. 

For example, when after the operation of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the animal is able to support its leg and walk with minimal limping on the third day – this brings the greatest psychological satisfaction,” shared Jankauskas.

The doctor says that when it comes to pain, an animal experiences the same pain as a human.

The Difference Is That Humans Can Tell. Whereas We Need To Adapt To What Animals Feel

“Even phantom pain. If a limb is removed, sometimes, a person feels the pain of the missing limb. The same goes for the animal.

In veterinary medicine, pain is described by adapting from human experiences in parallel procedures. Th difference is that humans can tell, while we need to adapt to what animals feel.

How to understand when an animal is in pain? Most of our patients are dogs and cats. These animals’ express pain differently. Cats usually distance themselves, hide, they do not want to eat or drink water. Dogs, although depending on temperament, ask for more human care, ask for cuddles, and have a sorrowful look.

Sometimes we are told you are like pediatricians, because a small child cannot talk either. From general features, general symptoms, the doctor needs to understand something. What tests are needed, inspections.

“In veterinary medicine, a patient cannot tell anything. The owner is my patient’s voice,” said M. Jankauskas.

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An Exotic Animal Versus A Rabbit

In Lithuania, people tend to raise more and more exotic animals. This is also a challenge for veterinarians.

“Frankly, in my practice, an exotic animal is a rabbit. Or a guinea pig, a hamster – we really treat them as exotic.

Yet even more exotic – all are cold-blooded. Reptiles, lizards, tortoises and the like. It does not only become a kind of challenge, but also an incentive to move forward.

I am a neurologist-traumatologist-orthopedist, and my colleague works with exotic animals. Someone brought a tortoise with an open fracture of the forelegs to my colleague.

We joined forces, worked in a team. I, as an orthopedist, and he, as an expert in exotic animals. We performed the operation. It was a challenge.

The diversity of animals is greatly increasing. There are more of them, and they are more diverse. Yet, when there is demand, there is supply, there are doctors who are interested in the field. With us, at the Veterinary Academy, there is such an opportunity to specialize in specific fields,” revealed Jankauskas.

Would Take A Fast Credit For The Animal

There are more and more people in Lithuania who treat their pets once those get sick, instead of choosing another way, putting them to sleep. Although sometimes, such a solution costs not only a lot of money, but also requires time to take care of the pet.

“I remember a lovely and touching story. A father and his daughter brought a tiny hamster, it weighed maybe about 150 grams. Most likely, while running on a wheel, the hamster put its foot in the gap and possibly fractured it.

The young daughter asked to bring it, although, logically, my consultation, radiogram, and treatment would cost at least three times as much as to buy another hamster. At that time, we took a flexible approach to the situation, I consulted on the care of the animal,” said Jankauskas.

Sometimes there are people who would be willing to get quick loans for the sake of health and well-being of their pet, but there are also those who are not willing to invest in animal health care at all.

I Remember A Lovely And Touching Story. A Father And His Daughter Brought A Tiny Hamster

When a pet becomes seriously ill, the veterinarian says, every time we need to make decisions, depending on the situation.

 “There are hopeless situations. Then you try to explain that there are diseases even among people that are incurable. The same applies to animals. Sometimes you can choose to be more humane rather than taking care of it when it is in constant pain or unable to meet the minimum needs: urinate, defecate, drink water and take food,” said the doctor.

Can Work All Over Europe

What challenges await future veterinarians? According to Jankauskas, the veterinary sector in Lithuania is catching up with a great speed with the European one, so these studies are no exception.

“The quality of studies is constantly improving; we adapt to European requirements. The University currently meets the European requirements and is recognized in other countries. After graduating, students can work all over Europe,” assured Jankauskas.

Following the trends, in the future, veterinarians will become even more specialized in individual areas, as is the case in human medicine: “I believe that there will be larger veterinary centers where more complex cases will be treated. I see that perspective.”

Text: Jurgita Lieponė, 
Photos: Martinas Jankauskas,, Marius Morkūnas