Growing up, Dr. James Simcock didn’t know what he wanted to be in high school. It wasn’t until a vet came to a careers night when he was in grade 12 that he even considered being a veterinarian as a profession. James states “[they] made it sound really appealing so I decided that I would try that. When I was at uni I changed my mind a dozen times (at least) with what I wanted to do. First, I wanted to be an aquaculture vet, then an equine vet, then a cattle vet, I ultimately decided on small animals. I then found myself doing an internship that developed into a residency in surgery. I think to some degree I have been in the right place at the right time. Regardless of how I got to where I am, I think I am very lucky as I have found something that I love to do”.
Dr. Simcock is both the co-director and owner of Southpaws Specialty Surgery for Animals in Victoria. He feels like a great workplace is the result of great staff. Without his team of nurses and vets, they would not be able to do what we do. “We pride ourselves on not having any ego’s at the hospital. We often say that while we take what we do very seriously, we don’t take ourselves very seriously. Being a vet/vet nurse can be incredibly stressful, having a culture that allows humour and where everyone is treated equally helps to mitigate this stress and helps to bring out the best in peoples’ character” says James.
In addition to regular staff, Dr. Simcock’s clinic also takes on many residents and interns. He says “I think the best tip I have is to spend time at the practice/hospital where you are hoping to get the job. Many of our interns are students/vets that have spent time at the practice. Spending time at the practice is mutually beneficial as it gives the candidate an opportunity to see what the hospital is like and to show off their skills/knowledge, it also allows the employer to see how well the candidate fits in and works within the team”.
Amongst all the amazing stuff he already does, teaching is also a large part of his job. He says that he gets a lot out of seeing people learn and develop their skills and being able to implement this knowledge into their practice. “I love getting emails and phone calls from people that have used some of the knowledge or a technique that I have taught them and had a successful outcome with a case”. We admire his modest nature to help others. James states, “I also recognize that referral is not an option in a lot of cases, for a variety of reasons. I think it is important to put back into the industry to help people develop their skills and knowledge so that the standard of veterinary medicine is elevated across the board. In doing this, outcomes are improved, patients get the best care, vets have reduced stress levels and clients are happier”.
He’s done many “nerve-wracking” surgeries but his favourite one still remains the good old hemilaminectomy/ventral slot for IVDD. James states “it’s one of the most rewarding procedures. Nothing like having a dog walk again after they present with severe neurological deficits”. Apart from neurological surgery, Dr. Simcock also has published many papers on gastrointestinal, urological, and oncology surgery, and has a special interest in orthopedic surgery as well.
For such a fun loving successful surgeon, he still manages to stay humble stating his favourite quote, “You are judged not by the magnitude of your successes but how you deal with your failures.” Also, sometimes he just really wants to get where he is going and so if he could have any super hero power in the world, it would be teleportation.
Staying motivated and focused can be a challenge in any profession, let alone trying to create a good work life balance. This is merely the case for Dr. Simcock. Having a balance between work, family and fun is really important to him, “I find myself becoming less productive professionally if I am not able to take time to spend with my family and hobbies” he says. He has a lot of hobbies, and most of his loved ones and friends often mock him for my garage full of toys. To unwind you may find him in the water trying to catch dinner, in the water surfing a wave or just getting out for a run.
What a well rounded guy with a tone of life experience to share. VetPrac couldn’t be happier that Dr. James Simcock has joined the team of educators and we look forward to seeing him soon!
Develop your orthopedic skills along side Dr James Simcock and the VetPrac education team at our Introduction to Internal Fixation: Fractures with Locking Plates Workshop. Taking place November 17th – 18th at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. Register now!
Interviewed by Alena Felkai
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