Challenge the Foundations for Learning

Dr Jane Day is a specialist in diagnostic imaging and has been teaching ultrasound for many years. She loves the challenge of developing new techniques for teaching. Jane also has an amazing capacity to think outside the box so that you can bridge the gap between learning and doing.

We got down to the nitty gritty with Jane and asked her about her life as a veterinarian and diagnostic imaging specialist, and this is what we found!

What inspired you to become a veterinarian and then go on to specialise in radiology?
I grew up on a property in western Queensland with livestock and many pets, which influenced my decision to become a veterinarian. Diagnostic imaging was the discipline that I found most interesting in practice and it developed from there.

What do you most enjoy about diagnostic imaging?
Using imaging to help solve the puzzle of the patient’s illness is what I most enjoy. Working with specialists from multiple disciplines is definitely a case of “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”.

What do you enjoy about teaching?
Everyone learns differently and I enjoy the challenge of coming up with a technique that works for teaching a particularly difficult concept or skill; I am always trying new methods to see what works best. Diagnostic imaging is such a vital part of practice and finding ways to help incorporate imaging into the management of cases is important, especially as it can be quite different to how imaging is used in a specialist practice.

What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy getting out into the outdoors as much as I can with my family and our 12-year-old dog, Sophie, who has to suffer through many hours of sitting beside me while I read cases in a dim room!

Join us at our Brisbane Abdominal Ultrasound Workshop, with Drs Jane Day and Annie Rose.
October 31 – November 1, 2020

Dr Christine Hawke: Making a difference in animal dentistry

The desire by vets to improve their patients’ health and reduce pain is universal.

Have you ever considered how recognising and treating dental disease in our pets can dramatically improve their quality of life? This realisation was the catalyst that sparked Dr Christine Hawke’s interest in dentistry.

In a recent interview, Christine gave me a candid account of her beginnings in veterinary dentistry – an area that was not always her favourite part of veterinary practice!

“I was always petrified of surgery and hated dentistry as I didn’t understand it; I used to have many tactics for avoiding doing dentals (even house-calls were preferable and that is saying something!). I was a budding internal medicine vet, had just completed my PhD in immunogenetics, of all things, and starting a clinical teaching position at the University of Sydney when I had to choose between running either the spey or dental clinic. Having sworn I’d never do another spey in my life, I had to learn dentistry on the fly. I was shocked to realise how much oral disease our small animals suffer with, how they do not express their pain, and the sheer extent of dental disease as a welfare issue in our pets. The difference we can make to our patients’ health and comfort with good dental care is astounding.”

I asked Christine what parts of veterinary dentistry she finds interesting and what she believes general practitioners would benefit from learning about and performing better?

“I am really interested in developmental issues in puppies (and just generally interested in puppies of course!!) – they are far more common than most of us realise. The malocclusions are the most obvious ones – we see a lot of linguoverted or ‘base narrow’ canines, overshot or undershot jaws and the like, especially as we have bred dogs to have ‘designer’ head shapes with less attention paid to their functionality. GPs can pick these up with a really good physical examination. If GPs know when treatment is required or not, and the treatment options available, they can not only limit the amount of pain and trauma but decrease the long-term issues these dogs have by offering early intervention.

The other big, underrated thing GPs can start doing is counting the teeth in dogs at six months (it’s easy when they are under anaesthesia for desexing). Unerupted teeth seem to be becoming more common, especially with the rise in brachycephalic breeds, and about a third of these will give rise to a destructive dentigerous cyst during the dog’s life. A simple dental xray can rule out whether there is an unerupted tooth, and early removal of the tooth can literally save the jaw from an inoperable pathological fracture down the track.”



With respect to dental extractions, Christine learnt from experience rather than just reading a textbook and has the following advice:

“ I have learned that extractions are not as difficult as they seem if you plan them well (just like any surgery) – my tip is to use anatomy and physics (the easy physics, like straight lines, clear pathways and which way to use the force for good rather than evil, not the hard stuff like quantum entanglement) to make your job easy. Knowing how and why things go wrong (and it is usually the same mistakes we see, over and over again) is the best way to avoid dental disasters.”

For new graduates who want to improve their knowledge and skills in veterinary dentistry, Christine has the following advice:

“Take your time and plan your extractions. Don’t rush and don’t lose your patience. Stick to the basic principles and, as you get more experience, you will get faster. You also don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Use the experience of those around you to pick up tips and improve your skills. If you don’t have mentors around you to help, look for postgraduate training, especially those with good hands-on workshops to hone your skills.”

What does Christine do on her days off?

“I have kids, need I say more? I am a skilled ‘muber’ driver (‘mum’s uber’). But when I get my own spare time, I do like to write fiction and I love to read, especially books that are on actual paper rather than a screen.”



Want to learn more from Christine, and share her passion for veterinary dentistry?

Join us at Practical Skills Bootcamp with a nuts and bolts curriculum specifically designed for experienced vets, new grads, or those returning to work. We’ll get you fit for the job with topics in abdominal surgery, dentistry and animal behaviour. Along with wet-labs, we have communication and meditation topics in this 3-day workshop jam packed full of theory and practical sessions you can implement immediately in your clinic.


Christine can be contacted on 1300 838 336 and



The “Two Traceys” – Legends of animal behaviour

At VetPrac we love teamwork, and thrive on it, from planning workshops to facilitating workshop participants to work together in their learning experience! When I met Dr Tracey Henderson and Tracy Irons a few years ago, I was blown away by their working relationship; it’s certainly something to witness – a perfect example of a team achieving more than the sum of its parts. There’s a reason why within VetPrac circles we call them the 2 Traceys!

Dr Tracey Henderson always had pets and loved them; she grew up wanting to be a farmer, but her parents wouldn’t let her come home on the farm as they wanted her to ‘strive higher’. And the rest is history! When she graduated in 2000, she started puppy preschool at her first job at Willunga Veterinary Services. That is where her passion for behaviour unexpectantly grew! And grow it did! The more she learnt and consulted, the more passionate she became. Tracey finds it so rewarding being able to help pets and their owners live their best lives with mental illness. Since 2004 Tracey has been offering behaviour consultations – initially at Willunga Veterinary Services, and then at Australian Veterinary Behaviour Services, which she co-founded with Tracy Irons in 2012. She left GP practice about 5 years ago to do 100% behaviour – now she can live and breathe it!!!

Tracey and Tracy have known each other for many years, but probably really became friends when they were both pregnant – their two girls were born 1 day apart in 2008! And again, the rest is history. When I asked Tracey about her working relationship with Tracy, she said “Tracy and I get along really well both in the consulting room, the clinic and presenting workshops. We are both as passionate as each other about animal behaviour. Her strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa – we bounce off each other so well. The secret of a successful working relationship includes similar motivation level and work ethic, good communication, honesty, kindness and support.”

Tracy Irons has worked for 8 years at the RSPCA as a behaviour trainer and kennel supervisor, and became a Delta trainer in order to have the qualifications to work with a behaviour vet! (No prizes for guessing which vet that might have been!). She recalls that she first met Tracey when she came to assist at the RSPCA. Their friendship and love for behaviour developed from then. They call themselves the “behaviour nerds”. Tracy says that the secret to their relationship is honesty, dedication and lots of laughter… and wine!!!!



I asked them both if they had noticed any behavioural problem that is significantly more common now, compared to say, 10 years ago?

Tracey said that over the last 10 years she’s been seeing a lot more anxiety cases in general, but that this is probably because pet owners are more aware that there is help available, and behavioural medicine is becoming more widespread and referred more often.

Tracy has noticed an increase of diagnosing dogs with “hyperarousal disorder”. She says that “instead of being labelled as a “naughty dog or disobedient” these dogs are suffering emotionally. And the owners are so grateful for our support and assistance”

In Tracey’s opinion, recent veterinary graduates receive inadequate undergraduate training in behaviour. She believes that they aren’t adequately trained to advise pet owners about behavioural issues, “which is concerning because many pet owners turn to their vet as their first port of call for a behavioural problem”. She is also concerned that they may not receive adequate training in animal handling to be able to safely manage “difficult” dogs and cats in their everyday GP practice case load. At Roseworthy University in South Australia Tracey is allocated just 2 hours to teach dog behaviour to the 5th years, and another 2 hours for cat behaviour.

Experiencing the 2 Traceys in a workshop, it’s hard not to develop a keen interest in behaviour.

When asked about what they enjoy about teaching, Tracey said “I am so passionate about behavioural medicine and educating people on how to recognize mental illness and understand pet’s behaviour in general, which in turn helps pets improve their quality of life. I love watching participants get excited and motivated as they learn throughout a workshop.”

Tracy says “I enjoy the moment when participants learn something that they haven’t learnt before. And from then the participant has a keen interest in behaviour.”

Believe it or not, the 2 Traceys do enjoy their leisure time in different ways!

Tracey likes to walk her dog in the mornings to start her day off well. She likes to spend time with her horse and her dogs, and loves spending time with her family. She also loves camping, with no internet or devices, and off the grid!



Tracy and her husband have just started sailing racing nacras which is a great opportunity for them to spend time together. They have 5 children between them, so they spend a lot time on the river water skiing, and down at the beach.



To experience firsthand this amazing duo of Traceys, come along to the VetPrac Practical Skills Bootcamp on October 16-18th at UQ Gatton. This workshop is open to new veterinarians, those returning to work after a break, or experienced veterinarians looking for a refresher course. We’ll cover everything from animal behaviour to abdominal surgery, dentistry, communication, and so much more!



Dr Tracey Henderson and Tracy Irons can be contacted at Australian Veterinary Behaviour Services (AVBS), 116 Main Road, McLaren Vale, SA 5171

Phone: 08 7480 0597 Email:



Small Group Zoom Rounds- Thank You

Thank you to everyone who has signed up for our “Learn with Margie – Zoom Rounds” on April 1st, 2020, 7:30pm AEST. Your response has been absolutely incredible and the Zoom Rounds were filled in just under 1 hour from the official release! This is FANTASTIC, and a heartfelt THANK YOU for your interest in animal welfare through anaesthesia and pain management, and your willingness to engage in this discussion. Our small group Zoom Rounds will run every week for a modest fee, and they are specifically designed for 20 participants, to enhance engagement and discussion. As these are specifically for you I will embrace your feedback and I am open to any possibilities. So let me know what you think. Please talk with me via email (, phone or text (+61 409 743 100). I am looking forward to discussing this with you!

Being Human in a Digital Age

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for letting me use this forum to express my thoughts during this difficult time. When I handed the reins of VetPrac over to Margie, I knew I would miss the wonderful contact I have had with you over the last 12yrs.

I have been watching Australian Border Force comments on SBS this morning and it’s inspired me to comment about crucial conversations.


We seem to live in an age when everyone (until recently) has a job and a role, and people are committed to their roles. We live in a digital separated age when protocols are followed, and people don’t make time to talk to each other.

It is ever more important we talk to each other. The thing which has defined humanity against all other species is our capacity to cooperate and communicate. But the thing that makes us all really special is our capacity to think beyond our habits and initiate new plans and ideas to support our progress and survival.

Listening to the Border Police Chief saying that their staff don’t have training in taking temperatures bamboozled me. Hearing that a Chinese doctor informed authorities in December about a new emerging disease and that it was ignored is eyebrow raising.

But this stuff isn’t uncommon. It happens all the time. We always try to form a protocol to cover our asses, but let’s be honest, NOTHING helps in an emergency better than people talking to each other in a way that enables cooperation and collaboration. So much information can be conveyed, and so much more achieved when we do.

If you are stuck at the clinic or at home right now, consider listening to the publication crucial conversations. It might help you save a life and prevent the spread of disease as well as help your whole team band together during this challenging time.

Warm Regards


Dr Abbie Tipler: An inspirational surgeon

VetPrac is delighted to welcome back Dr Abbie Tipler as an educator at the Fix the Face workshop at UQ Gatton on 2nd-4th October 2020. When Abbie first joined VetPrac as an educator in 2018, she was working as a surgeon in general practice. Since then, she’s taken a giant leap into a small animal surgical residency at Veterinary Specialist Services (VSS), Brisbane.

Meet Dr Abbie Tipler – surgery resident, passionate educator, charity worker, and last but not least, mother of 2 small children. She appears to have mastered the juggling act of professional life with motherhood and even has something left over to give back to the veterinary and general community.

Let’s find out how Abbie manages life as a resident and a mother of 2 young children, and still has time for charity work!

Tell us a little about your residency at VSS and how you’ve adjusted to life as a resident in a very large referral practice.
“Residency life with two little ones is very busy! But I love my job, so this makes the adjustment a lot easier. There were also many skills I picked up in general practice that prepared me for referral practice, such as teamwork, client communication and history taking, so it was less of an adjustment than if I had started straight from veterinary school.”

You must be a very busy woman having young children and doing a residency. Any advice on how to create a good work life balance, and balancing parenting with work?
“Balancing parenting with working requires you to be highly organised and have a lot of support. I am lucky in that my husband has flexible hours and can work from home, so the kids drop off/pick-ups are made easy. Finding the right balance however is extremely challenging. It is something I think any working mother finds tough and I am certainly no exception to this rule!”

What do you enjoy about teaching?
“I absolutely love the thought that I could make a vets’ life easier or inspire them to try something different or learn a new skill.”

Abbie has been involved in several charities such as Pets in the Park, and Elephants Rhinos People.

For those of you that may be unfamiliar with Pets in the Park, we encourage you to watch this interview Abbie did with the co-founder of Pets in the Park, Dr Mark Westman. We challenge you to be inspired to offer your services in the future.


Abbie’s words about the charity:Pets in the Park is a brilliant charity that vets can get involved in, which treats the pets of the homeless. It is a great way to meet other vets in your area that you may not directly work with, and to give back to the less fortunate. I was blown away by how loved these pets are, and how grateful their owners were for our time. It was a great experience.”


Abbie truly is passionate about surgery and education of the veterinary profession, and gives back to the profession and indeed the general community in many ways.

Abbie is looking forward to sharing her passion for surgery with you at the Fix the Face workshop. Registrations for Fix the Face: Brachycephalic and Ear Surgery are open. This practical workshop for veterinarians is proving to be very popular and filling quickly so register now to secure your spot.

Dr Abbie Tipler can be contacted at or on Facebook.

Register now for this workshop with Dr Abbie Tipler, Dr Charles Kuntz, Dr Tania Banks & Dr Kat Crosse. Registrations are limited and filling. 

The Life-Death-Life Cycle

Dear Colleagues,

Christmas is a time focusing on the life-death-life cycle. And this year it feels more palpable than usual.

I’m not Christian, as you know, but this cycle is represented in every culture and is also well understood by science. At its core – energy is never created or destroyed, it just changes form. To say it has been a tumultuous year of change is an understatement.

We are in a whirlwind of fire right now and as veterinarians we are intimately involved in responding to the needs of the living who are affected by it. On top of that, it’s common for us to be responsible for more euthanasia cases at this time of year. Many clients looking for “The Good Death” turn to us for support and compassion as they decide to part with their four legged friends. As a community, it is unlikely that any other population group in Australia can comprehend our emotional landscape right now. The fires, the wildlife death, the clinical cases and then the compassionate euthanasias… There’s a lot, right now. A lot. And it is hard. There is a lot of suffering so it’s important we remind ourselves and each other, that we are not alone. Even when we are physically on our own and even when we are isolated in our thoughts and feelings. All of us are connected.

When we are experiencing suffering we need to remember that we are not the ones causing it, it is not our fault, and we don’t deserve it. But we do have the capacity to alleviate some of it with our skills, knowledge and compassion. I know we are all doing our best, on any given day, with the resources we have at our disposal. We all care about each other – that’s how communities work.

It’s been a big year for me too. My brother got married this year and my father died. I want to write more about that but this isn’t really the place. I will say that my brother is the most amazing man. He is a shameless fool who commands an army of people with his kindness and deserves his beautiful irrepressible wife to the hilt. And, my father was a brave and proud man who helped many and defined himself by his actions leaving a lasting impression on everyone who met him.

Also this year, a beautiful silvery woman appeared to me and asked how she could get more involved in VetPrac. When I first spoke to Dr Margie McEwen I had no idea what would happen. She has relit my world with her enthusiasm and I am so happy she is part of the VetPrac Family!

Next year will be an adventure. A rebirth of  VetPrac’s purpose: To bring the best and most relevant practical skills training to the veterinary community in Australasia. We will see the ashes settle on our great land and new shoots of life come forth. The burnt homes and farms will be ploughed and rebuilt, and new life will appear. We will not get back what has been lost… but new things will come. Good things, I hope.

Before that happens, we will mourn our losses. We will rest; And maybe now this week is the time for that.

When my dad died, we found ourselves laughing more fully in his memories and in our love for each other than we had in a while. The joy was more palpable in the presence of such sadness and it felt richer, more tasty. I have also found myself looking at old Australian landscape photos recently, appreciating our beautiful country for what it is. The perspective changes the experience.

For those of you lucky enough to be away from the flames and any pain this season, may you remain so. May the joy and love of the season fill your homes and your hearts to continuous happiness and opportunity.

For those for whom this year has been difficult may you find kindness, love, joy and peace when you look around. May the help you need always be close, and the people you love and yourself remain safe and healthy.

And for all of us, may we cherish the life we have and what we are capable of doing with it.

Happy Holidays,

Are You Addicted Yet?

Did you know most people who attend one VetPrac workshop, attend two? Ever wondered why?

It might be that the workshop content gives them exactly what they need to treat cases in general practice successfully and with confidence.

It might be because they get to spend time with wonderfully kind and supportive specialists who want them to succeed too.

It might be because the other people at the workshop are just like them. Struggling everyday with GP life where you feel like a Jac of all Trades and a Mistress of none, but loving the variety and challenges.

It might be because we manage to immerse ourselves into something and savour it completely for two full days and it feels amazing.

It might be because we all get to escape our lives for a short time and reflect on what we love and want and that feels amazing.

It might be because the food is always delicious.

It might be because the facilitators are always around to help make it easy and fun.

It might be because vets have high expectations and on trying an alternative no other practical skills education provider in Australia has come close to the quality provided when they come to a VetPrac workshop.

It might be because after you do 3-4 procedures, the money is insignificant and the only thing you are left with is a greater opportunity to treat cases better and have successful outcomes, earning accolades for yourself and the hospital you work for and making you more valuable to the community you are a part of.


It might be…. How about you come and see? Check out our 2020 workshops.


CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE for announcements about all the workshops we’re planning for 2020



“Educational, practical, friendly, encouraging, very positive experience. Enthusiasm +++ Great theory & practical components. Great lineup of educators & great support staff who made all aspects run smoothly. All involved adapted to make everything work and be delivered as advised – great course with the amount of content covered and took questions as the workshop progressed.”
Dr Lynne Falconer (RSPCA Qld)  – TPLO Surgery Workshop September 2019


“Brian’s instruction is clear, concise and practical. With the lessons from this workshop combined with my background knowledge in orthopedics, I can definitely move forward with confidence in performing TPLOs. Thank you!”
Dr. Waylon Wiseman (Greater Springfield Vets)  – TPLO Surgery Workshop September 2019


“This workshop is a wonderful way to help GPs become more confident with procedures that will allow for better standard of care and level of proficiency.”
Kate Story (Peregian Springs Vet Surgery) – Ophthalmology Workshop February 2018


“This was a well-targeted surgical workshop revising a series of procedures that can be done in general practice. Labs were great and lecture style enjoyable. Food and social events were really well organised, relaxed and made this a special event. Thank you.”
Anon – VetPrac Workshop 2019


A quick snapshot of Dr Edith Hampson and the tools of her trade

VetPrac are delighted to welcome back specialist ophthalmologists Dr Edith Hampson, Dr Martyn King and Dr Mark Billson as educators at the Practical Ophthalmology workshop on February 15-16, 2020.

I sat down with Edith recently and asked her a few questions about her career as an ophthalmologist and educator, and the single piece of equipment she deems essential in her ophthalmology practice.

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


What is your biggest challenge with being an ophthalmologist?
Keeping at the cutting edge. I appreciate the opportunity to spend time together and share knowledge with Martyn and Mark as colleagues, as well as teaching vets at the VetPrac Ophthalmology workshop.


What is the best advice you have ever received when training as an ophthalmologist?
Be curious – ask questions.


What do you enjoy about teaching?
When students understand a new or difficult concept.


What practical tips for ophthalmic examinations that you learned from experience would you share with general practitioners?
Review your cases in a timely manner.


What single piece of equipment has revolutionised ophthalmological practice for you?
“I cannot work without my Vorotek loupes! I don’t go anywhere without them!

They have pristine magnification with a light source, you can accomplish all sorts of surgery with them, and without them I wouldn’t dream of attempting surgery, especially with sharp objects so close to the eye. By using Vorotek loupes the incisions and suturing are very precise – less trauma with better healing.

These Loupes are also versatile; they can be used for visualising any lesions, e.g. skin lesions or surface abrasions on our patients.

They are especially vital for veterinarians over 40’s who, like me, need magnification when performing tasks.

My Vorotek loupes allow me to achieve the best ophthalmic outcomes for my patients.


What do you like to do to wind down? What do you like to do for fun?
Walking, laughing, sharing meals with friends.


Thanks for your time Edith. VetPrac looks forward to welcoming you back to the education team in February 2020.

Dr Edith Hampson can be contacted by email:



Participants at the VetPrac Practical Ophthalmology workshop will have an opportunity to share Vorotek loupes, thanks to Sound Veterinary Equipment’s generous support of this workshop. Further to this, participants will receive 15% off select equipment thanks to our training partners Vorotek & Sound Veterinary Equipment. Contact Sound Veterinary Equipment and place your orders now so you have your own equipment to practice with at the workshop!


Click here to download the brochure about this special offer.


Special announcement: VetPrac is now a Pty Ltd Company

Dear Colleagues,

It is with great joy that I get to announce that VetPrac is now a Pty Ltd company! After 12 years of being my little business baby, VetPrac has grown up. She is now an entity of her own and comes with her own ABN and everything! It’s very exciting!

In association with such a development we welcome Dr Margie McEwen to the VetPrac Team. Margie graduated Sydney Uni (like me) and is an American diplomat and specialist in anaesthesia and analgesia. She has held teaching and leadership positions at Washington State University, TUFTS University, The University of QLD and the University of Adelaide. Everywhere she goes she is well liked, a wonderful team leader and collaborative agent on all things educational. This is evidenced by the numerous awards she has received from team members and students worldwide.

It’s a very exciting time to be a part of the VetPrac community. I hope you get to join us at a workshop in 2020. Along with our amazingly talented educators you can be assured that it’s going to be great fun and highly beneficial to your career path.

Have you booked a workshop yet? They are filling you know!

With the Warmest of Regards,

Dr Ilana Mendels



Subscribe to VetPrac on YouTube for video updates.



JOIN US IN 2020! Registrations are open for these workshops.




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Ilana’s Top Tips for getting through Communication Barriers