A life less ordinary…meet the wonderful Dr Cathy Warburton

There are some members of our veterinary community who are a just an inspiration and a joy to be around. Dr Cathy Warburton is one of our favourites and has an insight that improves the lives of everyone she meets. Dr Warburton is a very experienced veterinarian and manager, and now veterinary wellness consultant and coach. We are honoured to feature her on the blog today.

What inspired you to change your career trajectory?

I have always been interested in the way people think – I spent a number of years of my youth reading about serial killers and trying to understand why they made the decisions they did! When managing and training people in an emergency and critical care (ECC) setting, I saw the importance of developing systems and processes which supported people to do great work. I was always struck by the fact that there are big differences between people in terms of their resilience and well-being. So, when I had the opportunity to do some formal study in this area – I leapt at it. I thought that you could teach people resilience and well-being and now I know that to be true. It is time to put thought into action.

What were the greatest challenges you encountered when working with members of the veterinary community when you were in the clinic environment?

As a generality, I love the type of people that are attracted to work in the industry. Anybody who has worked in ECC will understand that the greatest challenge is reliably having people ready, willing and able to do shift work and provide high quality care to both the pet and the client. Working in a referral environment is great as you get to interact with so many people in the industry.

What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered when working with members of the veterinary community now that you are outside of the clinic environment? Are they different? Do you feel that you are different now?

Interestingly, after a life-time of reactive, fire-brigade medicine, I now want to be really pro-active and establish good habits in our veterinarians and veterinary nurses – right from the get-go. I haven’t had time yet to come up against significant challenges but I would like the focus to be on early education and intervention rather than waiting until people are suicidal and then trying to intervene.

What have you found most fulfilling in your new role?

That one is easy – it is definitely witnessing peoples’ aha moments – the moments when thoughts, beliefs and assumptions are challenged and new ways of doing things are considered.

What do you hope to achieve in the future with this type of program?

I want to see more veterinary professionals leading a happy and meaningful life. The flow-on effect will be better outcomes for the animals we service.

What do you feel vets generally do well when it comes to well-being?

We generate a lot of satisfaction from helping animals and people and this is great for our well-being. We tend to big achievers and this also contributes to our well-being. We are well-read and smart – we have read a lot of the stuff that tells us what we need to do for our well-being. Actually doing it… well that can be a different matter, especially when we start feeling pressured.

Where do you feel we need some help when it comes to improving our well-being?

Regular sleep, exercise, healthy food and maintaining personal relationships all help us when we are feeling stress. Don’t drop them! Sometimes we put so much emphasis on standing on our own two feet and being independent, that we don’t ask for help when we need it. A problem shared is a problem halved.

What advice would you have for vets who are in crisis, or suspect a colleague is having a difficult time?

If it’s you – go back to basics. There are simple things that you can do to make you feel better. A nice way to remember them is the acronym CLING – cling on to your mental health. This stands for Connect, Learn, (get) Into action, Notice and Give. (There is a nice visual you can print out on my web-site – www.makeheadway.com.au) If these are not enough, seek professional help. This is a sign of strength not weakness. If it is someone you know – spend time with them, talk with them and ask them if they are OK? Suggest they seek professional help.

Could you please share your top tip for winding down at the end of a busy day at work?

I tend to end up with a brain full of to-do lists. Writing these down helps to get the list out of my brain and therefore my thoughts. Then I like a nice activity that takes all my attention so I stop thinking about work and start thinking about home – sometimes it’s a nice pot of freshly-brewed tea with my husband and sometimes it’s taking my dog to the park across the road and chatting to other pet-owners or watching the birds (being chased by the dog). Lying on the ground and listening to Pachelbels’ Canon is another favourite.

Ready to change your life for the better?

Dr. Warburton is an inspiration to us at VetPrac and we hope that her wisdom will inspire you as well. If you are ready to change your life and reach your potential, VetPrac will be offering the chance to work with Dr Warburton in October. Due to popular demand, her amazing 6-week, online ‘High Achievers Program’ will be offered again in October. Class size is limited to 10 participants and registrations open on August 10. Visit www.vetprac.com for more information.