Why Don’t More Female Vets Become Surgeons? Meet Dr Sue Gibbons

Have you ever thought about why, despite veterinary science being a female dominated profession, there are relatively few female veterinary surgical specialists, and even less female veterinary orthopaedic surgeons? Who better to discuss this with than Dr Sue Gibbons, who has been doing primarily orthopaedics since 2002, and became a small animal surgical specialist in 2006. Sue currently runs a mobile surgical business, Specialist Surgical Solutions, servicing Brisbane and surrounding areas.

Given that our profession is dominated by women in the workforce, why do you think so few seem to do orthopaedic surgery?

It can be scary when you first start out. It’s a numbers game; the more you do the better you get. It’s hard to find mentors who are prepared to hand over the tools and take the time to teach you. It’s traditionally a male dominated field so I guess women have to prove themselves a bit more to be accepted in this field. I used to be the butt of many jokes like how women can’t use power tools and have no sense of direction particularly when placing implants. I also get lots of comments about how strong you have to be to do orthopaedics, but it’s all about technique not strength.

What is the best part about performing orthopaedic surgery? Any benefits to being a woman?

It’s often challenging; no two dogs are the same. It’s satisfying to see your results on the post-op radiographs (i.e. instant gratification!).

What is your typical day like?

Running a mobile business means that my work day is somewhat unique. I usually drop the kids to school, do a few consults and two to three surgeries. My car is my office! I have awesome nurses that come to my house at night to pack and sterilize my kits.

Any advice for women considering a specialist career? Anything you wished you knew beforehand, honestly?

If you want to have kids, consider getting your Fellowship/Diploma out of the way first.

Write down your reasons for wanting to do Fellowship at the start of the journey because there are likely to be times when you question this decision along the way.

What do you think is the biggest barrier as a female veterinarian and/or specialist? How have you handled or overcome it?

Barriers to becoming a vet/specialist as a female include juggling family, long unpredictable work hours and getting back into the workforce after maternity leave. I have overcome this by running a mobile surgery service which allows me to work more flexible hours. It is helpful to have lots of back up (family, hired help) to assist with running a household and childcare if/when you get stuck at work.

General barriers to becoming a specialist include many years of low income, long hours, additional study and the examination process.

What do you think is the main causes of gender disparity?

Tradition.

Do you think the veterinary surgeons board, or the associations should take steps to benefit or hinder the gender bias?

Possibly. Many women have suggested that some kind of refresher course would be helpful for those re-entering the work force after prolonged maternity leave to ensure they are up to date. Equal pay regardless of gender would be another potential topic for discussion.

What do you think are the steps needed to attract more women to pursue further education or specialist positions in surgery?

Shared working weeks/fortnights, part-time/split shift rosters etc.

You have been in the veterinary industry for several years and have accomplished so much! Have you noticed any changes or shifts as time goes on?

There are more women involved in surgery in general and in orthopaedics.The greatest general change in my time is the shift to digital imaging.

If you’d like to meet this extremely accomplished surgeon, why not register for the VetPrac workshop in Perineal and Urogenital Surgery Workshop on August 24-25, 2018. Dr Sue Gibbons will be an educator at this workshop, alongside Dr James Simcock and Dr Peter Delisser. VetPrac is not biased with respect to gender roles – both male and females veterinarians are most welcome to attend our workshops!

Contact Details:
p 0407 645 886
e sue@specialistsurgicalsolutions.com
Website: www.specialistsurgicalsolutions.com

Meet The Hip Dr John Punke

Meet Dr John Punke, who hails from the USA, but has fallen in love with his new home Adelaide. Luckily for VetPrac, John has agreed to join the education team this year, to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for all things surgery at the Hips and Hindlimb Surgery workshop in Gatton on 26 and 27 June 2018.

We recently got to know a little more about John and how his veterinary surgical career and lifestyle has flourished since moving to Australia.

What inspired you to become a veterinarian and then go on to specialise in surgery?

I’ve had a love for animals as long as I can remember.  My dad and I would watch National Geographic movies together.  When I was old enough, during my summer vacation, I would walk to the local library and read every book they had about animals and dinosaurs.  I was fascinated!  I excelled in science in school, then biology in high school.  It was a bit of a natural progression for me, I guess.  I feel that I am very fortunate to have naturally fallen into a career that I love so much and can be so emotionally rewarding.  I entered a small animal rotating internship after veterinary school with 6 other young veterinarians.  I was the only one of us who enjoyed surgery.  So, the other veterinarians would see my scheduled appointments so that I could do surgeries for them (stitch ups, aural hematomas, that sort of thing).  It was an early referral system and I really enjoyed the work.  I love being able to “fix” things.  I didn’t enjoy dermatology or cardiology much at all.  It was a natural progression for me to pursue surgery on a full-time basis and I wanted to practice at the highest level I could, so I accepted a surgical internship at the same practice the next year and pursued residency after that.

Do you have a favourite surgery or procedure that you like to perform?

I really enjoy the problem-solving aspect of fracture repair.  It’s a good combination of veterinary medical care with “shop” work using tools and implants.  Seeing a dog healed two months post-surgery and able to return to full function is very satisfying to me.

In your own words, what is it about hip and hindlimb surgery that you find interesting and that you believe general practitioners would benefit from learning from and performing better?

Hip and hindlimb diseases are very common in dogs; there are a lot of subtleties to their diagnosis and treatment.  I often diagnose ‘grade 2.5 medial patella luxations’ and ‘stable CCL disease’.  I find these subtle findings interesting and I think they enable me to continually improve my surgical skills. These aren’t things that are taught in veterinary school or text books.  I think being able to illustrate and teach these and other subtle findings and differences to general practitioners will help me add an extra level of quality to their clinical practice for their benefit and to the benefit of their patients as well.

Would you like to share any horror or hero stories from any of the procedures we will be addressing to inspire readers to assess and grow their skills?

Some of the most difficult surgeries I have ever had to perform were revision surgeries from failed tibial osteotomies performed in general practice.  To date, I have been able to save the leg in every case.  But, I often warn the owners that I will do my best but can’t guarantee that their dog will have their leg at the end of it.  These cases illustrate to me the importance of education, skill and attention to detail when performing this kind of surgery.  And even though I have been successful so far, I am always nervous that I won’t be able to help.

What practical surgical tips that you learned from experience would you share with general practitioners?

I would stress the importance of gentle soft tissue handling and accuracy with suturing and implant placement.  I think we all enjoy bones and joints, but the success or failure of orthopaedic surgery sometimes hinges on the health of those bones and joints as tissues.  We can’t forget that bones, joint capsule, and cartilage are living cells and need to be cared for like we would muscle, a spleen or the pancreas.

Thinking from a practice standpoint, be careful to always practice within the scope of your expertise.  For example, I do not perform total hip replacements and would not hesitate to refer to the surgery specialist across town with the skills and expertise to perform a total hip replacement well.  Never be afraid to admit and refer to someone who you know can do a better job than you.

What brought you to Australia? Has your lifestyle changed since moving to Australia?

I came to Australia at the end of my surgical residency to interview for a position in a place called Adelaide.  I had to Google it to learn that it’s in South Australia.  I thought it was worth taking a look.  I fell in love almost immediately.  I’ve always had a fascination with the animals of Australia. To see black cockatoos and dolphins on my first day in Oz convinced me to move here more than any job opportunity ever could.  I moved here 6 months later and hope to get citizenship later this year.  My wife and I love living in Adelaide.  It is only a short drive to many different wine regions, the hills for hikes, the beach, and we have many friends in town.  We couldn’t be happier here!

What do you like to do for fun? How do you spend your days off?

My wife and I enjoy hiking, trail running, camping, sailing, and taking our dogs on walks in the woods and to the beach.  There are many fantastic wineries and restaurants to try in Adelaide as well.

Are you working on any projects at the moment?

I’m working on a few projects at the moment.  I have developed a program to organise and teach general practice veterinarians in Adelaide how to screen dogs for hip dysplasia from a young age and what steps to take to treat them along the way.  The program is called the Adelaide Canine Hip Improvement Program (ACHIP).  We are still in the early stages of training our partner clinics, but the uptake has been very good!

I’m also developing a method to use CT and CAD modelling and custom implant design to treat angular limb deformities in dogs much more accurately.  So far, we have used the system to treat common antebrachial deformities, but I can see the system being used for other abnormalities in other bones and even with fracture repair.

We are also doing an experimental study to illustrate how much better our modelling and implant design will be in achieving accurate results and to test if our technique can make ALD surgery more accessible to less experienced surgeons.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

As a surgery specialist in practice, I can only treat and improve the quality of life for the patient in front of me.  But, as a teacher, I can help other veterinarians improve the quality of their care and utilise the skills and lessons I have learned to help many more patients than I could with my own hands.  I find that very satisfying.  Additionally, I really enjoy seeing the “ah ha!” moment on peoples’ faces when I can get them over a mental block they have been having with a concept or principle.  To me, veterinary medicine is about learning principles that we can apply and transfer to multiple cases to help us practice the highest quality of medicine and surgery possible.

For an opportunity to share in some of John’s surgical prowess and his love of his new home town, register for the Hips and Hindlimb workshop at Gatton on June 26-27, 2018.

Dr John Punke can be contacted on johnp@aaerc.com.au

Written by Alison Caiafa

VetTips: VetPrac Penis and Bum Surgery

Tip 1: Digital rectal examination is the main-stay of diagnosis for perineal hernia’s. Palpate both sides even if the external swelling is only obvious on one side. A tip for the digital rectal exam is to make your finger into the shape of a hook and point it laterally. As you withdraw your finger, if the finger slides right out then it is not a hernia; if it catches then it is a perineal hernia.

Tip 2:  Anal sacculitis is most commonly seen in small-breed dogs but can present from a wide variety of signalments. Surgery to remove the anal sacs is indicated when there has been a failure of appropriate medical management (manual expression, lavage, instilling topical antibiotic-corticosteroid preparations +/- systemic antibiotics, adding fibre to the diet and treating concomitant dermatoses) or in cases of neoplasia.

Tip 3:  When suturing the urethral mucosa in a perineal urethrostomy  make sure you identify the edge of the urethral mucosa accurately. Sterile cotton buds are useful to blot the haemorrhage away to help identification of the mucosal edges (don’t use electrocautery). Take a bite of the urethral mucosa, a small bite of the tunica to help compress the intervening cavernous tissue, and then appose the mucosa to the skin.

Would you like to find out more? This August 24- 25th is the Perineal and Urogenital Surgery Workshop.. it’s a little bit smelly but the surgical techniques you walk away with are incredibly valuable! Click to register today! For more information see the brochure here.

How VetPrac Helped Me Become A Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist!

In 2017 I qualified as a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist through the Canine Rehabilitation Institute course coordinated by VetPrac here in Australia.  The field of Rehabilitation Medicine and Physical Therapies is really only just taking off in Australia, it is already huge in the US and Europe with many dedicated clinics and full time clinicians there. It was the first time this wonderful course was offered in Australia. I had previously contemplated attending the course in the US, so I was very excited to find it was being offered in Australia through VetPrac.

I have been a small animal vet for 27 years and an IVAS qualified Veterinary Acupuncturist for the last 12 years and also do a lot of trigger point (muscle knots) and soft tissue manipulation work with Canine Athletes. So this CRI course was a natural extension of the work I already did and it has helped me enormously in my business. In regards to musculoskeletal injuries I was already doing a lot for the pain and disability of the initial injuries and secondary compensatory issues, but the CRI course has helped me enormously in returning the animals back to optimal performance whether that is following a sporting soft tissue injury or following orthopaedic surgery. It has given me a greater understanding of the injuries and the demands of canine sports, but also common orthopaedic injuries in non athletes.

The first module was three days of Canine Sports medicine in Sydney in February 2016 and was conducted by Dr Chris Zink, who is very well known and respected in the World of Dog Agility. This introductory workshop gave me many practical skills dealing with the many agility dogs I see.  It taught us detailed musculo-skeletal exams, gait analysis and musculo-skeletal special test as well as practical exercises to strengthen weak muscles. This is not something that was taught to us in vet school really and yet it is something we encounter every day in practice. This 3 day course gives veterinarians a much needed insight into the world of canine athletes and the many issues that involves them as well as pets with common injuries.

The following two modules are five days long each and are very practical and incredibly useful. The Introduction to Canine Rehabilitation module is an intensive 5 day revision of musculoskeletal anatomy and the biomechanics of how anatomy is related to function and performance. The diagnostic methods of musculoskeletal conditions are explained through this workshop. It was a huge eye opener and so much more fun and useful than anatomy back in vet school. The Canine Therapist five day module concentrates on the therapy aspect of rehabilitation and how all three modules fit together. All three courses have a large practical, hands on approach working with actual canine athletes and patients with injuries.

Each module is followed by an online exam and after completing all three modules there is a week long internship with a pre-approved clinician in the field of rehabilitation therapies for those wishing to become certified.

I would highly recommend the courses to anyone interested in the field of Canine Muscular Injuries, Rehabilitation, and Sports Medicine. It is particularly helpful for musculo-skeletal injuries and those obscure lameness mysteries that no one seems to be able to solve. It goes a long way towards being the equivalent of a Canine Physiotherapist without doing a Human Physiotherapy degree. I have thoroughly enjoyed this intense but wonderful course and I am very grateful to VetPrac for bringing this much needed course to Australia. I highly recommend the Canine Rehabilitation Institute courses.

If you’re interested undertaking the steps that will lead you to becoming a CCRT certificate holder with the internationally acclaimed canine rehabilitation institute, July 30th – August 3rd VetPrac will be hosting the The Introduction to Canine Rehabilitation Workshop. The workshop is open to physiotherapists, nurses, and veterinarians, and will be held in Brisbane. Register today HERE! For more information read the brochure. 

Written by Dr Esther Horton

Happy Mothers Day from Ilana Mendels

My mum retired last week, just shy of 70yrs old. She arrived in Australia by boat when she was two as the daughter of a Chinese merchant. Her family lived above a shop in east Sydney and her mother died when my mum was just 15yrs old. She never really got to have a mum as an adult woman, and I never met my grandmother.

My Grandmother was the first woman in Harbin, China to run a modern beauty parlour. She travelled to Paris after WWI to learn beauty techniques from the french. When she arrived in Australia she gave that up to help my Grandfather set up his shop and raise their children.

My mother was the first person in Australia to offer aged and disability care services privately. Until her, the only option was government care services through the department of social services. Her business disrupted an entire sector, and she worked with lawyers to change compensation law to properly account for the life time needs of the injured. I grew up playing at her feet while she started her business at home, offering care services to Sydney’s elderly not wanting to go into nursing homes.

The mothers in my family have always made me feel very proud of my heritage. They are women who are kind, idealistic activists who saw problems as opportunities and drove change into their communities. In doing so, the time they spent with their children was limited. But when it was given it was all encompassing and loving.

I spent a lot of time waiting for my mum but I always knew and I still know when she turns her attention to me it is absolute and what she gives me is the support and strength and hope that I can achieve anything, that everything will work out, that I am safe no matter what happens. Most of all she knows where all my giggle spots are and how to activate them. I love her so much and I wouldn’t be the woman I am without her. I hope I can give those gifts to my children one day too.

I hope you get a moment to enjoy your mothers and your own children today. Even if you have adoptive or surrogate parents or children by circumstance, there is great joy in savoring the time we have with our loved ones. It’s a joy that brings us peace, laughter, ease and safety and it creates the space to make the seemingly impossible very manageable.

Have a happy day!

Ilana

Selling your practice? You have options! Let Simon Palmer Help You

After joining the VetPrac education team last year, we are delighted to welcome Simon Palmer back this year to VetPrac workshops in Brisbane and Sydney. Simon runs workshops and seminars on exit planning and practice sales throughout Australia, and is the founder of Australia’s largest dental and vet brokerage – Practice Sale Search. His company sells more than 60 practices a year.

Last year Simon gave us some insight into practice sales and the role he plays in both practice sales and acquisitions.

With the growth of corporate veterinary practices, I asked Simon to tell us how this has had an impact on the sales process, and how corporate buyers perceive veterinary practices differently to owner operator buyers.

Simon has seen several impacts of corporate buyers; that of increased options, and increased prices.

“The appetite for practices with a justifiable price tag over $1M is thin amongst owner-operators. Corporate aggregators provide options for these practices. The laws of supply and demand tell us that when there is increased demand for any asset, the price for that asset is usually elevated. Corporate aggregators buying practices results in more demand for higher-profit/revenue vet practices. This, in turn, should mean that owners of these vet practices get more favourable options when it comes time to sell”

Simon, what are the differences that vets should be aware of when selling to a corporate group?

“There are two things that I think vets should keep in mind about corporate aggregators: Firstly, an owner operator buyer is looking for a business and a job. A vet corporate is just looking for a business. This is a fundamental difference in the way that the practices are looked at and assessed. A Vet buyer may pay more for qualities that don’t appear on a profit and loss. They may be willing to pay more for a recently renovated practice that has a well-designed work environment that is near to their home for example. A corporate aggregator is really just looking at production/revenue, profit and prospects for expansion.

Secondly, many vets have negative connotations in mind when they hear of “corporate buyers”. I believe that it is unfair to lump them all together and paint them with the same negative brush. There are many corporate aggregators in the veterinary world with different ways of acquiring, different corporate cultures and different relationships with their practices, vets and clients. If you are selling your practice, it is probably a good idea to speak with vet buyers that are individual owner operators AND corporate aggregators, so that you can get a feel for how both view and value your practice. It is always better to know all the options that are available to you, before you make any decisions.”

Thanks, Simon, for your insights into this rapidly expanding sector of veterinary practice sales.

If you are thinking about either buying or selling a veterinary practice, why not register for the Buyers and Seller’s workshops to get some great professional advice on the process. You wouldn’t expect a great result if you attempted a new surgical procedure without thorough training; why expect a great outcome if you try to buy or sell a practice without professional advice!

Simon Palmer can be contacted at: 1300 282 042 or simon.palmer@practicesalesearch.com.au
Website:  www.practicesalesearch.com.au

Written by Alison Caiafa

How Much Do You Know About Canine Rehabilitation?

Did you know…

Tip 1: Veterinarians often struggle with determining the actual source of a forelimb lameness. Patients often present with normal radiographs and a subtle lameness. Using physiotherapeutic evaluation techniques, veterinarians can now determine whether the lameness is the result of an impairment in the muscle belly, muscle-tendon interface, tendon-bone interface, joint capsule, or collateral ligaments.

Tip 2: Improper arthrokinematics cause a lack of normal range of motion. Understanding correct arthrokinematics is essential to regaining appropriate range of motion.

Tip 3: Flexibility refers to the elastic potential of muscle/tendon units. Hypomobility refers to arthrokinematic impairment. Treatment for the two is very different, but both must be addressed to regain normal function of any joint.

Tip 4: Therapeutic exercise programs can focus on eccentric and/or concentric movements. Understanding when a patient is capable of progressing from one to the other is key to maximizing their return to normal function and strength.

If you’d like to learn more, join Vetprac and The Canine Rehabiliation Institute 30th July – 3rd of August and register for the five day Introduction to Canine Rehabilitation Workshop. This workshop is the first in a series of 3 workshops that will lead you to becoming a CCRT certificate holder with the internationally acclaimed Canine Rehabilitation Institute.

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 July 31st for the 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
Email: exoticsvetinfo@gmail.com
Website: www.exoticsvet.com.au

Written by Alison Caiafa