Meet Joshua Medical Plus VetPrac Prize Winner

Name: Joshua Gardner

Qualifications: BVSc (hons)

Position/Job?: Starting as an intern at VSS in 2015

What does winning the VetPrac Prize mean to you?

I’m very honoured to have been awarded the Vetprac prize for diagnostic imaging, and to be given an award in an area, which I’m interested in, is highly gratifying. It validates the hard work you put into your studies and the prize allows to me continue to learn and better my skills so I can be the best veterinarian that I can be.

Tell us about your experiences during your placements

5th year placements mark an abrupt change from highly theoretical learning to practical and application of what you had learned to the real world. Therefore it’s a huge learning curve, and I learnt that there are certain realities in the veterinary industry; 90% of the time regular vets are working with financial constraints and it can be hard to uphold your responsibility to all stakeholders including the owner, animals and your professional moral/ethical beliefs. Also vets do a crap tone of paperwork!  However despite the long days and hours of study after coming home in various animal bodily fluids, I think placements showed me that I was definitely in the right profession for me. I’d like to thank all the vets who take on students for placements – we really do appreciate the time, effort and resources you spend on us!

What are the challenges a vet student faces on a daily basis?

I think vet students have a lot of pressures on them – pressure of wanting to do well at your studies (since most are type A personality) and outside pressures (friends/family, social, financial) can be overwhelming. Given the large amount of knowledge you need to know and the need for you to be able to integrate, analyse and apply this in a clinical setting can be very difficult. In addition there can be insidious issues such as ethical dilemmas and compassion fatigue

What challenges do you anticipate as a new graduate and how do you hope to manage them?

For me the greatest worry is coping with the large amount of responsibility a veterinarian has, and now that I’ve graduated I feel like I should know the answer to every question and be able to deal with any situation. I know that this is impractical, and therefore I need to ensure that I maintain a support network with my colleagues and the senior veterinarians I’ll be working with so that I can ask questions build my knowledge and continue to learn.

Do you have an exam tips you could share with vet students?

I think everyone learns in different ways and styles so it’s hard to give specific exam tips. Personally, I tried to understand general principles and use that information to work out problems rather than wrote learn everything. Otherwise, don’t leave it to the last minute and you’ll be fine!

How do you cope with stress?

Venting to friends and family is probably my main method, a quick 5-minute whine to my housemates or family over the phone: without a great support network I wouldn’t have survived vet school! Try to keep healthy: exercise, enough sleep, somewhat healthy food and regular breaks. I also procrastinate on Facebook a lot during exams, which is probably not advisable!!

What do you like to do for fun?

I try to maintain a social life outside of vet, as I think balance is important! I try to get out and about, hiking and visiting places I’ve never been.


Meet IM3 VetPrac Prize Winner Georgina

Name: Georgina Cavanagh

Qualifications: Bachelor of Science and doctor of veterinary medicine

Position/Job?: New graduate vet at sea side vet Wallaroo south Australia

What does winning the VetPrac Prize mean to you?

It was a real honour to win a prize at my final prize ceremony at university. I am so excited about going to a VetPrac workshop as a qualified vet because as a student I helped out with one and I know how great they are!

Tell us about your experiences during your placements

I have enjoyed all my placements and learnt so much. I purposely chose a wide range of clinics from small animal clinics, mixed practices and even a marine wildlife park. These placements taught me a variety of little helpful hints and tricks, things that can’t really be taught at university. These placements were a fantastic opportunity to get to know many vets in the industry. I was lucky enough to have done 2 weeks at my current job I loved it so much there were no hesitations to apply once a position was advertised.

What are the challenges a vet student faces on a daily basis?

There are a variety of challenges faced, some are faced by all students and some particular to veterinary students. Every student is faced with financial challenges and these were often more difficult for the vet students as we always had full days of uni with long hours and lots of study to do after hours. As vet students it was essential to learn to work in a team and how to communicate with both humans and animals. The workload and content were both challenging often due to the amount covered. All these challenges were made so much easier through great supportive staff and fellow students.

What challenges do you anticipate as a new graduate and how do you hope to manage them?

I am sure there will be many challenges but I think the biggest will be having the confidence in my knowledge and myself to be sure of my diagnoses and advice. I know this confidence will come with time and experience. A supportive team in the work place and also in friends and family will help any time I feel stressed.

Do you have an exam tips you could share with vet students?

Don’t stress over the marks, we all have our own strengths and weaknesses and when it comes to getting a job the employee is going to base their decision on how well you fit in with their team not how well you did in your nutrition exam!

We are all so smart to have gotten into the course so if you find yourself comparing marks against other students and being disappointed, remember this.

Be sure to drink lots of water and make time do something you love as a real study break – better to play a game of netball for an hour than sit in the same spot on Facebook for an hour, get out of the “study environment”.

How do you cope with stress?

I am an extrovert so when I was stressed I caught up with friends; over the phone, out to dinner, walking the dog or netball.

What do you like to do for fun?

I really enjoy crafty things such as sewing and painting. I also love cooking, in particular baking something sweet.


Meet Jordana Massey University’s Norbrook award for Academic Merit

Full Name: Jordana Del La Varis

Qualifications: Bachelor of Veterinary Science with Distinction

Position/Job?: Equine Internship at Matamata Veterinary Services

Jordana grew up on a small sheep and beef block, with a wide variety of pets. During high school she played representative basketball and rode horses competitively. Jordana is really looking forward to beginning her veterinary career with an equine focus.

What does winning the VetPrac Medical Plus Prize mean to you?

I am very honoured! It gives me the opportunity to further my knowledge and skills in a specific area of choice and is recognition of my hard work.  

Tell us about your experiences during your placements

I had a great time during all my placements. Everyone was extremely welcoming and helpful and I really enjoyed gaining further practical skills.

What are the challenges a vet student faces on a daily basis?

Veterinary students are faced with a large workload and are generally high-achievers. Luckily vet students have a wicked sense of humour and so this often helps when dealing with stressful situations!

What challenges do you anticipate as a new graduate and how do you hope to manage them?

I believe as a new graduate we will put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be exceptional at our jobs while still maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I feel time management will be very important in achieving this.

Do you have any exam tips you could share with vet students?

I believe time management during the exam period and prior preparation, such as keeping up to date with work throughout the year, are the most important things when preparing for exams.

How do you cope with stress?

Maintaining a good work-life balance is very important. I have a strong support network of friends and family to provide support as needed, however a good awareness of one’s needs is vital. I find horse riding a great way to wind down after a busy stressful day.

Protect yourself

Written by Dr Ilana Mendels

This week I suffered an excruciating injury to my hand. Luckily, it was my left hand. Unluckily it was my thumb. Luckily, I live in Sydney home to the Sydney Hand Hospital frequented by surgeons and musicians globally.

Being the sort of person who makes sure everything is stable before proceeding to action, I promptly took myself to emergency. It happened after bending my thumb back during training, and hearing that G-d awful soft tissue tearing sound that is as equally horrifying as feeling your pants split when you bend to pick up a patient. Both are equally embarrassing, but this hurt more; much more.

I felt so grateful, that the radiology department could rule out a fracture quickly, and that the emergency doctor was well trained in assessing hand injury. The professionalism and acute care was brilliant. And having been involved in hospitals over the last couple of years for different reasons, it was nice to see a speed of service similar to what we offer in the veterinary clinical setting for a change.

Still, I was forced to consider my options; while I sat there waiting for confirmation as she spoke tothe specialist consultant, that no serious long term injury would be predicted. What would I do? How would I work? Would I like not working?

Since graduating, I have held income protection insurance. Mainly out of the fear that breast cancer which plagued my grandmother would befall me eventually. I never thought something as acute as a sporting injury would cause me to cash in. And yet, there was great comfort, as I sat there knowing that I was protected even if I was off for a month. And that the policy had been up regulated with my income over time. So, I was safe.

Now, as a locum I depend on the regularity of my casual work for regular income and professional joy. I imagine I would be quite sad if I had to give it up. Especially, since I spent so much time learning and growing into the role that I love. And I affirmed, I really do love it!

As I sat waiting I practiced flexing and mobilising every other joint in my left hand, and was pleasantly surprised with my dexterity and co-ordination. It seems that a decade of frustrating 3 & 4 finger OHE ligament manipulation and splenectomy haemostat application without an assistant has its benefits over time. Good job, I told myself!

“I might be able to work without a thumb” I thought in the extreme… why not? We often take for granted the small things our body learns, and can do. And we often neglect to put in place mechanisms to nurture and protect the bodies that we grow into. I’m happy I won’t end up in surgery or with any permanent damage, and I’m happy I have income protection insurance too.

Have you every had an injury that effected your work life? Let us know in the comments below!

Meet VetPrac IM3 Prize Winner Marjorie Ting

An Interview with VetPrac IM3 Prize Winner Marjorie Ting

Qualifications: BVSc (Sydney)

Position: I am still job hunting but very excited to join a friendly and supportive team where I can begin my veterinary career!

What does winning the VetPrac IM3 Prize mean to you?

Winning the VetPrac IM3 Prize means a lot to me since continuing education is really important to veterinarians and it will give me the opportunity to practice hands on skills such as abdominal ultrasound, practical ophthalmology. I am thankful that I have secured this opportunity to attend a VetPrac workshop next year thanks to VetPrac’s generous award and continuing support for 1st year new graduates.

Tell us about your experiences during your placements

I was born in Darwin but was raised largely in Singapore; I have undertaken many weeks of placements in rural practices in NSW and SA and have also discovered that I am attracted to the lifestyle and practice in rural country communities! I enjoyed building rapport with the families and love listening to their stories and especially find joy and meaning to the work that I do when even something small that I have done makes a big difference. It has been a tough gig but it’s all worth it in the end!

What challenges do you anticipate as a new graduate and how do you hope to manage them?

I think coming straight out of university, vet students are crammed full of the latest knowledge and techniques and are excited to work cases up and do various procedures and diagnostic tests. However, I imagine it will be difficult and humbling to discuss topics like finances and euthanasia. I have done a bit of volunteer work with various non-profit organisations and these experiences have enabled me to learn key skills such as patience, perseverance and the challenges of providing optimum animal care while working within financial constraints.

What do you like to do for fun?

I enjoy outdoor activities and all that nature has to offer. I am writing this as I’m on my graduation trip with my friends whom I met in vet school/college and formed a life long friendship with! We have been exploring the gardens, lakes, cafes and museums the last couple of days in Victoria and will be heading for the great ocean road next week!

Do you have an exam tips you could share with vet students?

For everyone who is unfamiliar with the giant jacaranda tree in the beautiful Sydney University quadrangle, university legend says if you haven’t started studying when the first flower appears you are doomed to fail your final exams. So start early!

How do you cope with stress?

Vet school can be really tough managing everyone’s expectations of you and also your own expectations for yourself. I have found keeping a great group of peers/friends helpful as we’re all going through the same experiences and we help each other cross the line. I think it is important not to be too harsh and underestimate yourself and my friends help me remember that when I get lost in the whirlwind of emotions that is final year vet school.