VetPrac is feeling very privileged to welcome Dr. Chris Tan to the education team at the TPLO workshop on September 27-29, 2019. Chris is a busy man! He works as a specialist surgeon at Sydney Veterinary Emergency and Specialists, but also continues to follow his passion for teaching and research in multiple roles. These include tutoring for the Centre for Veterinary Education, lecturing at the Prince of Wales Clinical School and being a faculty and board member with the AO foundation, a not for profit organisation which aims to improve patient outcomes through research and worldwide education programs for practitioners.
I recently interviewed Chris; I’m sure you’ll agree that his responses to my questions demonstrate his huge commitment to excellence in surgical technique, dedication to research and passion for teaching.
What inspired you to become a veterinarian and then go onto specialise in surgery?
“I have always loved working with animals and was lucky enough to have fantastic mentors who could guide me along the path to specialisation. I really enjoy the challenge of surgery and the fact that outcomes are performance based and we can always find ways to do things better.”
Tell us a little about your PhD project.
“My PhD was investigating canine tarsal bone kinematics and how the distal limb can act as a biological spring to help conserve energy during locomotion.”
Briefly outline your roles at the Prince of Wales Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, and the AO foundation.
“I am post-doctoral research fellow and conjoint lecturer at the Prince of Wales Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, where I collaborate with medical researchers, students and orthopedic and neurosurgeons. I am a faculty member and board member with the AO foundation, a not for profit organization which strives to advance the treatment of orthopaedic disease through education, research and implant development.”
What do you enjoy about teaching?
“I really love taking difficult concepts and finding novel ways to present them. There is no better feeling than seeing that “lightbulb” moment when a learner grasps a concept for the first time. I also love watching learners improve their technical skills with practice and the odd tip or trick that we have learnt over time. Learning is a two-way street and I find that I always learn something at every course I teach.”
By the way, Chris was awarded the Excellence in clinical teaching award: University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, University of Sydney in 2016.
Any advice for new grads? What about general practitioners that wish to pursue further education in surgery?
“To me, surgery is about good decision making and technical skills. It is important to have a growth mindset, whereby we are constantly striving to improve both our knowledge and surgical skills.”
What practical surgical tips that you learned from experience would you share with general practitioners?
“Good surgical technique is about efficiency. This starts with developing a sound surgical plan. During the procedure, try to avoid unnecessary dissection and tissue handling whilst ensuring you have adequate exposure to perform the task well. Know the steps of your procedure well and practice as much as you can beforehand to ensure there is no unnecessary delay during the surgery.”
How do you spend your days off?
“What are they???”