How can we action sustainable practice?

One of our core VetPrac values is “People First”.

VetPrac participants learn by doing and we bridge the gap between learning the theory and performing the clinical skills in a supervised practical setting. Perhaps the most important aspect of “People First” is that our workshops are not just about two facts: theory and practice. What sets us apart is that we provide people with a whole experience during our VetPrac workshops. This is centred on our community and it’s about gathering together and celebrating lifelong learning through education, food, connection, conversation and contribution.

Many ideas, words, items, videos, and articles have come to me in the last few months. Like so many other people on our planet we have had to change our mindset, be more creative, and strategise, not just about the future, but our here and right now. The VetPrac team has had to rethink our world and our work, and we’ve done this largely using online media.

With the plethora of information at our disposal a lot of it resonates; I’d like to share a few pieces from three amazing individuals, that really struck a chord for me. Stephen Bent, my amazing, socially aware and environmentally conscious husband, showed me an article from the website The Conversation. Wayne Boardman, a wonderful colleague and outstanding veterinarian, posted this Video on Facebook. The third piece of information came from my 14 year old son, James Bent, while we were building our vegetable garden yesterday. He has also been following Greta Thunberg and is deeply affected by the disturbing reality of our planet’s demise. James said, “Mum we have 10 years to halve emissions worldwide” and then he quoted Greta, “and that will give us a 50% chance of avoiding an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, that will most likely lead to the end of our civilisation as we know it.” He is also thinking hard about what he can do.



So, what can I do? What can VetPrac do?

My plan is to act now, and with each step we will decrease our environmental impact. VetPrac’s core value of “People First” now has a dual purpose and meaning. We will continue to bridge the gap between learning and doing, and at the same time we will be reducing our emissions in our effort to help save our planet.


Some of the immediate changes for VetPrac are:

* Ask all participants to bring their own reusable water bottles and coffee cups, or pre-register to buy a reusable coffee cup at the workshop

* Continue to have water jugs with glassware (or to refill personal water bottles)

* Phase out the use of plastic conference envelopes and substitute them with either recycled paper envelopes or the equivalent with sustainably sourced natural fibre.

* Continue to recycle plastic name tags and as they decrease in number introduce cardboard name badges

* Print on sustainably sourced paper

* All printing going forward will be using a printer powered by solar energy


This is our beginning, and we will grow with this. What’s yours?



Optimising your use of Opioids [video]

This “Learn with Margie” Zoom Rounds instalment about Optimising Your Use of Opioids is at capacity and registrations are closed.

Don’t worry though! We have many more Zoom Rounds scheduled and you’re invited to register for these before they fill.


💡 Learn Anaesthesia and Pain Management with Dr Margie McEwen

🗓 Wednesday evenings from 7.30pm EST on allocated dates

📍 Online in a private zoom meeting


🚨 Places are limited so register now to secure your spot!

⬇️ Check out Margie’s latest vlog.



VET TIPS for treating perioperative pain in veterinary patients

Opioids are very effective analgesics for treating perioperative pain in our veterinary patients. Join us on May 6th to learn practical tips for managing your patients’ pain.

Click here to register or download the brochure for more information.


#1 Opioids have little cross tolerance between most receptor subtypes, which means that you can try other drugs within the same receptor class as another strategy to manage pain.

#2 Greater potency ≠ Greater efficacy
A partial agonist buprenorphine has greater potency (requires less mg to exert its effects) than full agonist morphine but does not produce the same maximal level of analgesia (less efficacy).

#3 Morphine and pethidine when administered rapidly intravenously (IV) can result in a histamine release in your patient.

#4 Whilst Antagonists completely reverse the opioids effect (and side effects) they also increase intracranial pressure

#5 Antagonist use if not carefully considered and administered will lead to acute awareness of pain, which can lead to sympathetic stimulation resulting in catecholamine release, cardiac arrhythmias, hypertension and possible death.




Anaesthesia and the Geriatric Patient [video]

There’s still time to register for our next “Learn with Margie” Zoom Rounds. Join Margie at 7.30pm EST on Wednesday 8th April 2020. We’ll kick things off with a brief presentation and then we’ll open the floor for a group discussion about the Geriatric Patients.

We hope you can join us!


💡 The next topic is: Geriatric Anaesthesia

🗓 Wednesday 8th April from 7.30pm EST

📍 Online in a private zoom meeting


🚨 Places are limited so register now to secure your spot!

⬇️ Check out Margie’s latest vlog.

2020 Vision for The New Year

There is always a lot of talk around starting a new year, resolutions and plans. Then for most of us by the end of January where have all our plans gone?

I remember starting off in 2019 with a 24hr gym membership and was so excited. My plan, get up early before work and do 45 minutes every day. Then I was sure on the weekend, after the kids were in bed, I could at least go Saturday night. Let’s face it, once you have kids there is not much of a night life 😉

January was awesome – I was doing it! I could feel myself having more energy and vitality lifting weights, doing cardio, leg followed by arm days. Then February arrived. I am pretty sure I was still going strong, perhaps I dropped down to 4 days a week, but hey I was still going.

As the motivation dropped I tried to find it in other places. There were fitness challenges at the gym and calorie burning competitions. That got me through the rest of February and March, then it fell flat on its face! I got sick! It broke my rhythm, motivation, call it what you will.

So back on the metaphorical horse and I found myself cycling through a good run, then not, never quite getting back into the FLOW! There was always something in the way: no time, kids, dogs, work and delivering phenomenal workshops.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well it’s like anything you start. It has got to fit you and your life. Most of the time it is a LOT of TRIAL and ERROR. Tweak it here or there, or change it up completely. Re-evaluate!

Starting something new, I feel, is an opportunity to grow. To see it in a new light and really appreciate what we are capable of. I have since found out that I prefer activities with friends and family so I have someone to push me while enjoying some company. But at least once or twice a week, I do it by myself. Partly for a little piece and quiet, but otherwise to accomplish it on my own and feel proud.

So whatever your plans are for the new year, don’t feel deflated if it morphs into something different. It just might be BETTER than what you NEEDED.

On behalf of the entire VetPrac team, have a safe and happy New Year.

Warm Regards,
Janine Irwin




Visit our website for 2020 workshops open for registrations.



Or join the VIP Waitlists for workshops we are finalising.




We can’t wait to see you in 2020!


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


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.




Other interesting reads:
What School Did You Go To?
Make Your Dreams a Reality
Introverts can exude confidence too. Here’s how…
Ilana’s Top Tips for getting through Communication Barriers


What school did you go to?

Sometimes we come across a question in our careers that influences how we are seen and how we see ourselves. One which I am grappling with at the moment is “What school did you go to?”

As new graduates looking for jobs, or employers looking for staff, it’s a question – an unfair one if you ask me.

Is it fair that we are judged in our ability by what school we went to? And why are we judged by this? After all, our parents’ circumstances often dictated the answer and it wasn’t always our choice (or ability) to have the best possible start in life.

The good thing about being an adult is we become responsible for our own opportunities and investments. We are still limited by some circumstances but usually, with negotiation, these can be managed with sensitivity and sensibility.

What we learn in life to be able to do our job well is important. But how we learn and who teaches us influences the way we practice those things we learn throughout life. It determines the value system under which our performance can be measured and science has shown that the value system of our performance is a better measure for our resilience, success, and happiness than purely performing on the job.



At VetPrac we have an exceptionally high standard of education and service. We work with specialists who have excelled not only in their chosen field of veterinary practice but also have accolades towards their teaching style. Most have published chapters in textbooks. Many have taught at universities, received awards for their skill, and are invited to speak internationally. Most importantly, all of them are great people with noble values and ethics who are wonderful to spend time with and learn from.

The results we have seen from learning with these people over the last decade is a progression of General Practice Quality by the learners who participate in our training. We go back to work with more confidence. We understand the reasons and decisions for cutting and charging for our care. We have more compassion for our clients and co-workers too. All of this is because we take the time in our workshops to get to know each other, share experiences and form a community.


“99.93% of VetPrac participants consider their experience was good value for money, improved their skills and they’d recommend it to their colleagues.”


I’m very proud of what VetPrac offers the veterinary profession. Our doors are open to anyone who wants to learn and develop skills to be a better vet. In a decade our statistics on feedback across all our workshop show 99.93% of participants consider their experience was good value for money, improved their skills and they’d recommend it to their colleagues.

So, as you are choosing your training programs for 2020 I’d like to invite you to think about what sort of experience you want to gain and how far you want it to take you. Its your choice, and your opportunity; And I promise VetPrac will do everything we can to help you achieve your goals.

Dr Ilana Mendels



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


I’ll be ok. It will never happen here!

Written by Janine Irwin
VetPrac Workshop Leader & SES Legend

I’ve been working within my local State Emergency Service Group for over 20 years and to be completely honest until now it has been all about lost people, storm damage and the odd flood. Now our climate has other ideas…

The arid dry heat, the high winds, and the severe lack of rain has made a lot of our country. It’s turned our back yards, and our local parks into the perfect environment for fires. I recently had the honour of working side by side with our amazing emergency services (fire fighters, police and ambulance) for some of the blazes burning around Queensland. Being able to help with adjunct elements that don’t involve fighting the fire means we have been able to free up more fire fighters to be on the front, doing what they can to protect lives and properties. With everyone doing their little part, it quickly adds up to a huge collection of people, most just volunteering.

It makes me feel good to know I work in a community that does a lot of volunteer work. Lots of Facebook posts from vets and vet staff involved in SES and also animal welfare and rescue makes me feel proud to be part of this community.

But why am I going on about this? Well most of us think, “It will never happen to me right?” But, in some way it will (directly or indirectly) and it hurts to see what people have lost. As a community we can help others. We are AUSSIES right? That’s what we do!

Have a chat with your neighbours, friend, and rellies. Do they have a fire plan? Do YOU have one? For home? What about WORK? We spend so much of our lives at work with the animals we care for and the clients we see. Have you thought through and written down a plan for evacuating? Consider the clinic and how you can leave it safely. When should you leave? Will you need to evacuate patients? Where can they go? D your patients have additional needs to be considered?

For those who are rural, what’s the access like for emergency services? Do you have trees in close proximity or hanging over the building? Are the gutters cleaned out? It takes just one tiny flying ember to land in dry leaves in your gutter to start a new blaze. These are just a few things you can think about to prepare.

The most important thing you can do is take 20 minutes to discuss what you and your family (work or home) are going to do during a fire. Fire doesn’t discriminate. Bush or the burbs you NEED a PLAN. Keep up to date with the warning through your local fire government agencies and ABC news. Many have pages on Facebook, Twitter etc like QFES (QLD) & NSW Rural Fire Service where they will update and release warnings or evacuation announcements. Find out what agency you need to follow so you can keep your loved ones safe.


CLICK for the latest ABC updates


Join us at one of these workshops in 2020! Click on the image for more details.