Meet The Winner of The VetPrac Advanced Clinical Prize, Megan Wright.

Meet the winner of the VetPrac Advanced Clinical Prize, Megan Wright.

Megan recently graduated from Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, and was the recipient of the VetPrac Advanced Clinical Prize valued at $1500, in 2017. The case report she submitted to be considered for the prize was on a toy poodle with Inflammatory Bowel Disease; it demonstrated a thorough, well researched, and logical approach to the clinical management of such a case.

We wanted to get to know Megan a little better, and hear her thoughts about life as a new graduate veterinarian in mixed practice:

You’ve been in practice a few months now. Where are you working?

Since graduating I have started work in a mixed practice in Orange, NSW, where I am very excited to apply all of the skills and knowledge gained in my degree.

How did you find the transition from veterinary student to working as a new graduate vet?

Initially it was very overwhelming! All of a sudden I was the one making the decisions and communicating these decisions and information to clients. Overall, I’ve been lucky to have a very smooth transition to practice with a supportive team of workmates.

As a new graduate what are the things you wish you’d paid more attention to at uni which seem so important now?

I wish I’d paid more attention to different communication styles that vets use when speaking to clients. However many of the finer details you don’t really think about until you are out there in practice yourself.

Was there anything you wanted more of at uni, but simply couldn’t learn because there wasn’t the time?

In general, even with a six-year degree, there is never enough time to feel 100% prepared for every situation, however overall I feel I did gain the skills and knowledge I needed from uni. One area which would have been good to learn more about would be behavioural medicine, as it is a common area clients seek veterinary advice on.

What advice would you give final year vet students preparing for practice?

Spend your final year getting as much hands-on experience as possible, particularly ensuring you can perform a clinical examination on every species and taking any opportunity to practice talking to clients by leading simple consults with the supervision of a vet. Most of all, when choosing your first job, make sure you have a supportive boss who will value your work-life balance as a new graduate. Adjusting to work as a veterinarian can be exhausting at times and it is important that you have time to get away, rest and do the things you enjoy.

As a recipient of the VetPrac Advanced Clinical Prize, which VetPrac workshop do you plan to attend, and why did you choose this workshop?

This is the toughest question of all! There are so many excellent VetPrac workshops – I’m still deciding currently between the VetTalk workshop and the Feline Surgery and Dentistry workshop.

What are your plans for the next 12 months for work and life?

In the early stages of my career I would like to become a skilled mixed practitioner, focusing on building client relationships and providing excellent care for my patients. I will also be continuing to find my feet in my new hometown and keep myself busy with my hobbies outside of work.

Congratulations Megan and welcome to veterinary practice!

Written by Alison Caiafa

Three Tips to Achieving Success

Tip 1: The veterinary world is driven by relationships. And relationships are driven by emotions. Veterinarians who understand the emotional aspects of practice are superior performers. They have great bed-side manners and are more likely to be able to sustain their passions into the long term. Being able to track and label our emotions and to recognise the triggers for particular emotions is an important first step to achieving success in building self-awareness and enhancing our ability to manage the emotions we experience. And greater emotional regulation improves our focus and our social skills, increasing our tolerance for stress and reducing anxiety and depression. Such a little thing as tracking your mood – yield big results.

Tip 2: Engagement is being committed and invested in the activity that we are involved in. Who would not want to be highly engaged at work? We want to love it, to be motivated to do it and to do it well. When it comes to engagement, there are simple things that we can do to grow our personal and job resources and bolster our engagement with work. Spoiler alert – we also need to be able to disengage and go home to our friends, family and hobbies and engage in these. Ways to do this can be learned.

Tip 3: When we struggle to get on with other people, it is often because we believe in and care about different things. We may label it a personality clash, but really what it is, is a values clash. I might believe in equality and you might believe in power, or I might believe in tradition and responsibility whilst independence and adventure are important to you. Our values create a set of internal rules which guide our behaviour and actions. Living in alignment with our values feels peaceful and authentic. On the flip side, seeing those internal rules and then feeling that you need to act in a different way creates conflict and disharmony. Considering and articulating our values assists us to find meaning in our lives.

Would you like to learn more? At the High Achievers 6-week online workshop Dr Cathy Warburton will utilize her training in coaching to explore coping strategies which can be utilised to manage stress, build resilience and allow us to grow from adversity. Register TODAY for the October 18th High Achievers workshop and start your journey.

Meet Dr Michelle Dalli

Meet Dr Michelle Dalli, who has worked alongside Dr David Vella at Sydney Exotics and Rabbit Vets since 2010. VetPrac is excited to have Michelle as an educator at the upcoming VetPrac Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry workshop on April 27-29. Let’s get to learn what excites Michelle about working with rabbits.

What inspired you to become a veterinarian and then go onto specialise in exotics and wildlife?
From as early as I can remember I loved animals and always wanted to work with animals as an adult. I had lots of different pets including exotics and wildlife as a child and adult which reinforced this desire. Then through my Veterinary degree I continued to develop my desire to work with wildlife and exotics and so when I graduated I started working with them as I had an interest, and developed skills and knowledge by self-learning and with the help of awesome colleagues like David Vella.

What is it about rabbit surgery and dentistry that you enjoy the most?
I love the satisfaction we get when we do surgery on rabbits that have quite severe disease processes and then respond well to treatment. It’s so exciting when you see a rabbit start eating after surgery!

What have you learned from experience that you didn’t learn from a textbook? What practical advice would you offer fellow vets?
There is so much I have learned from both experience and advice from colleagues it’s hard to put it all down! I have learned that even though they are different from the usual cats and dogs most veterinarians see the knowledge we have can be applied so easily once the basics are understood. The practical advice I would give would be to get competent at anaesthesia and aftercare of exotic species and train your nurses to be competent as well. Learn the common diseases that exotic species get and different therapies, and be honest to clients about your experience; I find that they really appreciate honesty.

Any advice for new grads who lack confidence in performing surgery or dentistry on rabbits? What about general practitioners that wish to pursue further education in rabbit surgery and dentistry?
The only way to get better is to do it. For new grads everything is new and so asking for advice and giving things a try is sometimes the only way to gain experience. If a new grad is keen to do exotics and becomes experienced in a clinic it usually doesn’t take long for them to be doing all of them. The VetPrac courses are an ideal way to gain skills and practise them with guidance from experienced vets as well as conferences for vets who want further education, or spending time with an experienced exotics vet.

What do you like to do to wind down? What do you like to do for fun?
Gardening, building things around my home, bushwalking, camping with my family, cycling, listening to music and more gardening.

Thanks Michelle for sharing your passion for exotics. We look forward to having 3 days of fun with you at the VetPrac workshop.

Register TODAY for the VetPrac Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry Workshop, and you’ll not only get to share more of Michelle’s experience, but also that of Dr David Vella and Dr Narelle Walter.
Contact information:
Michelle Dalli
Sydney Exotics and Rabbit Vets
64 Atchison St, St Leonards NSW 2065
02 94364884

Written by Alison Caiafa

Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry Quiz!

Would you be able to provide the best care possible for your happy hopping patients? Click here to take the quiz to see how your Rabbit Dentistry and Surgery knowledge fairs!

Or better yet, register for the Rabbit Dentistry and Surgery Workshop today. The workshop is already half full and places are selling fast so get in quick before you miss out on this great opportunity! This rabbit focused workshop will look at all that you need to know for treating your patients back in clinic. From nutrition and handling, to surgery and dentistry.

Book NOW for to secure your place in this popular workshop, or click to read the brochure.

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Passionate about bunnies.. Meet Dr Narelle Walter

Like most Australian vets that develop an interest in treating rabbits, Narelle’s passion for bunnies began in the UK, where rabbits have been popular as house pets for many years. Now settled back in Australia, Narelle concentrates exclusively on rabbits and the occasional guinea pig as both a primary and secondary opinion veterinarian. She offers routine rabbit services including desexings and routine vaccinations, as well as surgical and medical care at her hospital Melbourne Rabbit Clinic.

In your own words, what is it about rabbit surgery and dentistry that you find interesting and that you believe general practitioners would benefit from learning from and performing better?  Rabbits are fascinating pets and owners are catching on fast!  No house is complete without a bunny.  The medicine and surgery we are now investigating for this species is ground breaking and we are rapidly catching up to dogs and cats.  Although with some surgeries there are correlations to other more well-known species rabbit dentistry is on its own.  Particular and specific skills are required, even to just know there is a problem.  It is exciting and interesting especially when we vets think we have seen it all!

Do you have a favourite surgery or procedure that you like to perform on rabbits? My favourite surgery is a rhinotomy- removing grass seeds, teeth and clearing sinuses.  It is amazing to think we can undertake this simple procedure in rabbits, once thought to be so fragile.

What procedure, technology, or medication have you used and realised that there was a better alternative? The clear rabbit dental skull from IM3, not a fancy toy or medication, but is an indispensable part of every rabbit consultation.  Clients are often amazed as they often don’t know what goes on in a rabbit’s head.

What have you learned from experience that you didn’t learn from a textbook? What practical advice would you offer fellow vets?  The textbooks for rabbits are now only just emerging, which helps reduce the hours researching articles and conversing with international colleagues. But as we are often in a ground-breaking area many misnomers and assumptions are still around – even in some of those textbooks.  It is worth always being open to new ideas and scientific reasoning that is emerging.

What advice would you give new graduates?  Always be interested in rabbits but perfect your skills on cats and dogs!

What do you like to do for fun? How do you spend your days off?  I spend my days off reading articles on rabbits!  No really, I have many hobbies gardening, hiking with my family, playing the banjo and competitive powerlifting.  I also have my grandma habits of chutney and jam making and crocheting.  I have to retire to fit them all in!

Thanks Narelle, for sharing your story with us. We look forward to working with you at the Rabbit Surgery And Dentistry Workshop in April 27th – 29th 2018.

Contact information:

Written by Alison Caiafa

It Was A Calling… Backed by Scientific Evidence

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Autumn Equinox, Easter, Passover, Buddhas Festival of Teachings, Assyrian New Year, Hanuman and the Pagan festival of Spring. A time to celebrate!

But what are we celebrating? For many of these festivals we are honouring people who have made a difference in the way we live today. And it serves us well to look at our own lives and ask – are we making a difference? Interestingly, the stories of our past, are not told by them. They are told by the generations that were changed as a result.

It is so easy to have a difficult clinical encounter and feel like our whole world is collapsing. It is easy to get lost in thought while elbow deep in excrement wondering what are we doing with our lives. It is easy to drive out to a call at 2am, and be given cold water to wash with and feel undervalued… But for those who are remembered – those tales are usually left out. Perhaps, although we remember them and they plague us, we shouldn’t let them stop us from becoming who we want to be. We can’t stop the bad times, but we can hold them loosely and at a distance, so they don’t burn us. Maybe we don’t need to self-criticize or let others criticism scald us- after all, how does it help? As scientists with a degree that includes animal behaviour, do we honestly think that punishment (even if it comes from within) will help us?

I often wonder about how our clients, speak of us? What do they tell their friends and families of our sacrifices and successes, or the commitment and passion we project. What do they think of our intellect and skills? People will never understand what it’s like to be a vet. They can only dream of it. And in their dreams – they see themselves in your shoes. They see you as being the person they want to be. Or they recognise humbly, they don’t have what it takes to be you.  Their children remember us and the care we gave their best friends. The farmers whose businesses we consult on, are more grateful than we can appreciate. I doubt some of the dodgier animal owners care much for us… but if everyone always loved us, we’d be boring.

The purpose of the veterinary profession is to protect the health and well-being of animals and people. That’s a big friggin’ job!

Being a vet is a challenge. The challenge as I see it is ‘How do you protect the quality of lives of animals, and improve economies without harming animals or people? And if you have to take lives or charge money or cause pain or to do it, how do you do it with integrity?’ We have a real opportunity to make the world a better place. And, we have the capacity to actually achieve this, in every person and animal we encounter. How lucky is that?!

Quite often I run into clients who don’t seem to want to protect the health or well being of their animals, or possibly even themselves. And I always go back to telling them what my job and purpose is. And I ask them, what they want to achieve in our time together. Sometimes, I don’t get the answers I like, and I try to achieve my purpose around their limitations. Sometimes, they do a complete flip and enable me to achieve my purpose with vigour. I do love it when that happens.

It is said, that the more you repeat a goal and work on it, the more likely it is to come into fruition. Whenever I tell people why I’m a vet and why I offer skills training to vets, I glow. Apparently there’s some good evidence backing that up too. The Goal Setting theory of Locke from the 60’s has evolved… This theory found a direct linear relationship between goal difficulty, level of performance, and effort involved. The relationship will stay positive, as long as the person is committed to the goal, has the requisite ability to attain it, and doesn’t have conflicting goals. So basically, if you set a difficult goal for yourself that is specific you are more likely to succeed at achieving it.

If you are a vet or vet nurse who wants to fulfill their purpose and you are committed to it, then I want you to know that VetPrac is committed to providing you with the resources you need to build on your abilities to attain it. Doing workshops with us will inspire you and help you on your path to helping others. They may not write stories about us, our struggles or successes in years to come, but we didn’t get into the job for the fame did we? We had a calling. 

Happy Holidays friends!

Dr Ilana Mendels