Starring Dr Anthony Bennett…

Dr Anthony Bennett

BVSc (Hons I)

Mixed practice vet, practice owner

Meet Dr Anthony Bennett – a rising star in the veterinary industry!

Dr Anthony Bennett is one half of the TV docu series Village Vets. The docu series follows country vets and long-time best mates Dr. James Carroll and Dr. Anthony Bennett as they work with animals big and small. The series highlights their amazing community and the real-life dramas, successes and emergencies at the heart of their rural veterinary practice. We were lucky enough to interview Andrew about his experiences with the show and life in Berry.

Anthony Graduated in 2004 from Sydney University and has worked at Berry Vet Clinic since graduation. He’s locumed at Bomaderry and Sussex Inlet and opened 2 practices, Kangaroo Valley and All Creatures Vet Clinic Shoalhaven Heads.

Dr Bennett has completed VetPrac TTA course in 2014, is an accredited ACV cattle preg tester, worked as an honoury vet at the Royal Easter Show for 5 years, is Head Vet accredited with the Australian Endurance Ride Association and has been President of the Shoalhaven Branch of the AVA for the last 3 years. He is also AQIS livestock export accredited.

How do you feel about being promoted as the next HOT VET?

I am not sure if I am but thanks! Also, have you seen me? I have a face for radio!

What do you think people will learn from watching village vets?

We hope that we can appeal to the wider community, not just vets and pet owners. We think we live in a great area and have a wonderful mix of work. It would be nice to think that a young vet or student might watch the show and then aspire to be a country vet. As we all know, the country is crying out for good vets.

What has the experience been like for you?

The filming process itself was initially stressful however with planning and experience we managed the additional rigors. We employed another full-time vet during filming, Dr David Ball and also another nurse to take up the slack from Jim and myself being busy. The crews on the ground were absolutely awesome and were even willing to put the cameras down and pull on a calving chain if needed. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and we hope that translates into good viewing.

What have you learnt from being apart of the show?

By being part of the show I have learnt that not everyone is comfortable in front of the camera and that you need to be very conscious of managing people’s sensitivities. We have also learnt a tremendous amount about television and media, which is such a fascinating beast. As vets we are only trained to care for animals however it is so important to communicate your knowledge to your clients. Communicating with a television camera is not all that different to talking to your clients so from that perspective most vets would find being filmed relatively easy. I have also learnt to shake people’s hands about 400 times, during multiple takes, without giggling!

Do you have any interesting stories to tell us that happened during filming?

During the filming one of the producers was standing beside a cow into which we had placed a bloat trocar. Unfortunately the cow coughed at the same time as the producer opened his mouth and he coped a mouth-full of rumen juice. We also learnt that horses don’t like drones and if you see horses running towards one you are dealing with a very talented cameraman!

How do you think this docu series will help promote the veterinary industry?

I would really hope that our observational documentary helps promote mixed rural practice as a chosen profession for young vets. As you can see from our show, being in the country does not mean that you can’t provide an extremely high level of care. We love our jobs and the community that we live in and we hope that the show encourages more young people to follow in our footsteps.

How do you keep in real in the eyes of the media?

It is not hard to keep it real in the eyes of the media. About 10 minutes after the name of the show was announced publicly, a dairy farming client and mate texted “Village Idiots more like it!”

What is it like working at the Berry Vet Clinic?

Berry vet clinic is a vibrant working environment more akin to a family than a job. We hope that our staff enjoys working for us as much as we enjoy working with them. We think that it is important to have fun at work as you often spend more time with your work colleagues than with you partner or family. Living in a small community also allows you to get to know your clients really well and they become more like friends than clients. If you have played tennis with someone or coached their daughter in touch football you immediately establish a sense of trust that would otherwise take years to cultivate. From the TAFE students through to the vets, everyone on staff realises that they are an important community member and takes pride in their jobs and working as a team.

What advise would you give to new graduates & people thinking about becoming a vet?

If you are thinking about becoming a vet then you should spend some time doing work experience at a clinic. The public perception of vet science, and the perceived remuneration, is often significantly overrated. If you love animals and have a scientific brain it is the most rewarding profession that you could choose. But don’t do it for the money or you will be sorely disappointed! It is a difficult course to get into so keep trying, getting in straight out of high school is only one option.

Check out Village Vets here >>

Have you watched the show? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Are you asking your veterinary clients the right question?

Successfully communicating with clients was a key focus in a number of sessions attended by Dr Liz at the 2014 AVA Conference. 



“Do you have any concerns today?”

In veterinary consultation rooms all over the world, this question is being asked, in one way or another. Who would’ve thought though, that the way we ask this question can make a huge difference on how the consultation plays out, and how satisfied the client is at the end of it?

During the 2014 AVA Conference on Best Practice, there were many sessions dedicated to different aspects of the client – animal interaction, as the focus was on how to do the best thing by all parties.  Dr Coe’s sessions in particular focused on communication between vets and clients, and within the veterinary team itself.

The ultimate goal of every client interaction is a great outcome – a satisfied client, a (hopefully) healthy pet/herd, and a contented happy vet.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always end that way.  Sometimes we can prevent that, and sometimes we can’t.

A better outcome can start by the words that come out of our mouths (as veterinarians).   How you ask the question “Do you have any concerns today?” can make a big difference in the final outcome – from client satisfaction, engagement, and of course from the pet’s perspective, a happy healthy pet.

Changing words from “What are you feeding your pet” to “Walk me through the last 24 hours”, and “Do you have any concerns today?” to “So what concerns do you have today”, can make a big difference on the quality of the information that is shared by the pet owner, according to Dr Jason Coe.

We know that in many cases,  80% of the diagnosis is in the quality of the history, so being able to get to that gold nugget of information without making the owner feel defensive is a real skill.  And the beauty of communication is it is a skill that can be learnt.

A classic example that springs to mind is the vomiting dog, who ate half a pork roast the night before, but when the owner is asked “What do you feed your dog” they just say “kibble”.  What do you think they would’ve answered if they were asked “Walk me through the last 24 hours”?

Communicating well in a consultation is not about personality and it isn’t an issue of ‘you either have it or you don’t’.  Connecting with a pet owner in a consultation room is a skill than can be learnt, practiced and mastered like any other skill.  You don’t have to be a natural to master it, but you do need to be willing to learn.

To my surprise in the sessions on communication that I attended, the majority of the audience were vets who had been practicing for longer than 20 years (including me).  It surprised me because you would’ve thought we were masters at communication after all these years.  But Dr Coe made a valid point “Experience is excellent at reinforcing habit” (in other words, we may not always learn and listen).

Why did I attend these sessions on communication?  Because I wanted the exact same outcome for a sick pet that a loving pet owner has.  I want a satisfied owner with a healthy pet.  And listening to the questions that were asked during the session, all of my colleagues felt the same.

There are always going to be clients who prefer the dictatorial approach of “you will do this and this”, but mostly clients are invested in their pet’s wellbeing through their intensive internet research and advice from friends, and this bossy approach in modern veterinary practice simply will not work.

Recognising the owner’s investment in the knowledge they have garnered themselves,  using language that pet owners understand without being patronising, asking the right questions in the right way, without being judgemental or forcing them into a defensive position, is what modern veterinary practice is truly all about.

As vets, we are always striving for client satisfaction and improving our communication with our pet owners is the best way of achieving that.

If you have any questions you would like to ask Liz about the sessions she attended at the 2014 AVA Conference, feel free to ask her in the comments section below.

Author’s Bio

Dr Liz Chmurycz is a companion animal veterinarian based at Russell Vale Animal Clinic in Wollongong, Australia.  As a solo vet and business owner, she is also a mother of four children. She is passionate about the veterinary profession, and the animals she sees.

You can read Dr Liz’s Blog here: Dr Liz…the vet from Russell Vale Animal Clinic

Like ‘Russell Vale Animal Clinic’ on Facebook, click here to follow Dr Liz on Twitter – Russell Vale Vets & click here to follow Dr Liz on Google+


This blog post was originally posted on the Vetanswers website on the 1/6/14 and has been reproduced in its entirety with permission


Happy Eating!

Healthy, Quick and Easy Snack Ideas for Busy Practitioners

By Sandy Sher of

Your daily food intake should not be about counting calories, going on a diet or losing weight. It’s simply about getting the best nutrition for your body. What you eat everyday is an essential part of being healthy.


Food can either be a powerful tool to achieving optimal wellbeing or a fast-tack to bad health. There are a plethora of benefits to maintaining good nutrition including weight loss, increased energy, vitality and reducing cholesterol level and high blood pressure.

Just like with main meals, when snacking, you need to consider all macronutrient food groups including carbohydrates, protein and fat.

Poor diet and nutritional intake throughout the day has been proven to negatively affect work performance, energy levels and stress tolerance. With the high demands of working in a busy practice, combined with long hours, it is pertinent that your food provides the right nutrition to help you get the best out of your working day. The key ingredients to consuming healthy snacks is being prepared and having the right ingredients at hand.

Below, we have put together five quick and healthy snack ideas to help you nourish your body.

1)    Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Juices

These juices are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals that you may miss in your main meals. Fruit and veggies in their raw form provide the biggest nutrient boost, as they can lose some of their goodness when cooked. You can sip on a delicious blend throughout the day to keep your body nourished and energised. Freshly juiced and organic options are always best. Here are some healthy and delicious combinations to try:

  • Beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger
  • Spinach, parsley, celery, apple and lemon


2)    Smoothies

Smoothies are a good way to get your calcium supplement for the day. Try using strawberries, which are high in antioxidants and Vitamin C. Making your smoothies with organic and biodynamic dairy products is highly recommended. If you can’t tolerate dairy, a great alternative to try is young green coconut milk and flesh, which is also high in electrolytes, helps improve digestion and boost immunity. Again you can sip this throughout your working day to ensure you are constantly keeping your blood sugar levels even and energy levels constant.

Try blending:

  • Milk, yogurt, honey, strawberries and/or blueberries and ice
  • Coconut milk and flesh, raw egg, dates  banana, strawberry and ice

3)    Cottage/Ricotta cheese with veggie sticks and avocado

Cottage and Ricotta cheeses are another great source of dairy and calcium. You can choose the lower fat options and they taste great with avocado and vegetables like carrot, cucumber and celery sticks. Keep a tub of each in the fridge at work and then just cut up enough vegetables for a couple of days to take to work and snack on throughout the day.

4)    Boiled egg and fruit pieces

Boiled eggs are a great snack to have during the day with some fruit. They are super easy to prepare, have their own inbuilt packaging (the shell) and last quite a few days. You can boil up a 3-4 eggs at a time and take a couple into work each day to have between meals with some fruit. As they have both protein and fat, you will find they are quite satiating and you will feel fuller for longer. Adding a piece of fruit will ensure you are including a carbohydrate component to the snack.

5)    Raw choc balls

If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, having a healthy treat like raw choc balls is a good way to help with your cravings. You can make them yourself, freeze them and take them to work when you are want a treat. The ingredients usually include dates, cocoa powder, water, coconut oil and desiccated coconut. Coconut oil can help with weight loss, stress relief, improved immunity and digestion. Raw cocoa has also been shown to be high in anti -oxidants and helps boost immunity.

The key to healthy snacking is to have variety of ingredients to choose from and to keep it interesting. Choosing unprocessed and natural produce over chemically laden products is always the best option for your body. Invest in a little time to think about some healthy options and your body with thank you for it.

This article also featured in the AVBA magazine