7 Helpful Tips to Create Your Veterinary Portfolio Career

Welcome! Treat yourself to a coffee in your favourite quiet spot & 20 minutes to reflect and make some notes as you work through these tips and see what it inspires in you!

Some will wonder what a portfolio career is – and that’s ok. A portfolio career is a concept of income that breaks you out of the 9 to 5 model of work (or 7 to 7 plus after-hours in the case of vet practice) and builds an individualised career from interesting pursuits that best suit you.

For a vet currently in full-time practice and wondering what the next step is – it might look like 3 days a week in practice, a day a week working on your paid Board roles, a day a fortnight teaching veterinary nursing students practical skills at TAFE (& don’t forget the necessary 2 hours a week managing your share and investment portfolio – but let’s call that fun not work).

For a vet-dad or vet-mum who now have baby-raising responsibilities, they might choose to drop the practice for a period and take on another day of teaching. That progressive government describe a portfolio career –  is a reflection of how work is changing and people’s expectations along with it, the New Zealand Government has this to say:

Instead of working a single full-time job, a portfolio career is about working multiple jobs – dividing your time between several paid activities. These activities are often, though not always, complementary. For example, someone who enjoys painting, writing, and graphic design may make a living through each of these interests combined. 

A portfolio career can take a variety of structures. For instance, you can be fully independent (freelance, self-employed) or have a combination of self-employment and part-time or temporary jobs. A portfolio career is definitely not about doing several less-than-attractive jobs to make ends meet.” Source: NZ Gov – Plan Your Career

The 7 helpful tips on how vets might do this now follow!:

Tip 1: Are you thinking about a change? … A portfolio career might be just what you are looking for!

A vet degree is an excellent tool that can be used in any number of ways, practice, research, government, and industry of course but there are many options again that a vet degree + the individual YOU might create. This becomes more obvious as you acknowledge who you are and your natural attributes both in and outside of vet work i.e.: the kick-ass practitioner might also be – the meditator, the bookish philosopher, the curious scientist, the artist, the leader, the encourager, the political visionary, the business innovator, the carer, the traveller, the animal welfare advocate, the sportsperson etc. And as this other ‘you’ (or ‘you’s’ ouch that hurt!) gets incorporated in your world along with the skills you have developed and where you have worked to date ~ your vision and plans for what ‘success’ looks like might shift.

A good way to think of it is – if you didn’t need to stay put and earn money (money was covered) how would you choose to spend your time?

Tip 2: Recognise that vets have lots to offer in and out of a practice setting

Getting through the vet degree and surviving then thriving in vet practice takes some pretty significant resources in resilience, scientific writing and reasoning, work ethic, leadership, project management, problem solving, people skills, business acumen and emotional intelligence (although we all have days where we might not feel the expert on one or more of these!). Start to identify what you think your personal strengths are and what traits you would like to develop. Have some chats with people whose career you admire outside of the veterinary world to identify what similarities in skills (other than surgical technique) that your roles might actually hold.

Tip 3: Know where you are headed

Write down what you would like your life to be like in 10 years, the career impact you have had, the money you have (and the more than one way it is flowing into your life), your family makeup, and the way you spend your time. Form a mental image of a ‘Dream life’ and now close your eyes and visualise living it for a minute (yes 60 precious seconds) – what does it feel like? What will success look like? What does success feel like? And how will you recognise that you have it?…

Write down some thoughts about your goal – and some things you might need do to or learn to get there. Record your notes into a career journal and commit to acting on it!

Tip 4: Measure out your most important asset – your time

Each of us gets 168 precious hours a week, how you spend them is up to you. To see your goals happen you will need to invest some of those hours in action that drives momentum & creates them. Balance your time and your money and work out how many hours you need to do in your current role to make ends meet and how many hours you might save to start spending time creating your other goals (a second income stream or contributing to an important cause etc.) and the hours you will invest in that.  Then negotiate for your time and your money equally.

None of us in the vet world are afraid of solid hard work – but make sure that you are both satisfying the ones who pay you a wage and are also investing your time (and in turn your money) in your future and getting where you would like to be.

Tip 5: Self-audit your skills periodically

This means to write out where you are up to in a ‘My skills list’, these can be practical skills (a specific surgery), interpersonal skills and leadership skills. I suggest you do this every 6 months or more to measure what you are achieving and celebrate your progress. A bit like updating your resume – but without a specific job role in mind and keeping your options open. If you are struggling on your own – it can be a great idea to bring in some outside opinion from trusted others within your workplace and from another setting outside the vet world to give you some ideas. Over time build a list that you can use as needed to make one or more resume’s from (ahem – tailored for different roles – not different names and backgrounds!). The list should give the skill a title and provide an example to support each of these… For example:

  1. My time management skills: ‘on a particularly busy week in December 2017 I was able to get surgeries started an hour earlier through reorganising the consult schedule so that all the vaccinations were done first thing in the morning by 2 of the 3 other vets. In this way we fit in the additional 2 surgeries per day that week and everyone was able to go home from work on time. I am currently working on a document with my colleagues as to the pros and cons of this different system that we will present to management’.
  2. My conflict resolution skills: ‘as Captain of the Woodford 1st Grade Football Team in 2016 I was able to resolve an issue causing conflict between two players. Because I held each of their trust I was able to use a technique I was taught at the ‘Team conflict resolution course’ and had an informal meeting at an impartial location to discuss the issue at hand. The end result was that they each could better see the other person’s point of view and decided to shake each other’s hands and move forward as a team.’

Tip 6: Think about work and money in a new way …

Many people think that to get money you have to sit at a workplace and trade hours for money, but this is not always the case. A vet clinic is a specific workplace (run many slightly different ways), but there are heaps of workplaces and work styles out there. Have a think about other ways you could use your skills to earn income, to contribute – or learn something new (whatever your plan is above) – for example:

  • Are you a good writer with a passion for animal welfare? Could you write a weekly piece for a group sitting at a local café on a Sunday afternoon? Some places pay for content.
  • Could you join a Board – goodness knows we need more women on Boards and definitely more scientists. Some Boards pay a Directors fee.
  • Could you teach dog obedience on the side? Or provide a paid seminar event for local horse people monthly?
  • Or could you start an online business in scientific writing or editing, in risk management, problem-solving or project management? There is a lot of State Government support for small business and innovation – check out their websites.
  • If you are a practice owner could you introduce a clinical trial into your workplace? Or provide a biosecurity club to local farming groups?
  • Could you do face painting at kids parties on the weekends (my personal favourite!) or do pencil drawings of people’s beloved pets?

How you spend your time and how you define career success are entirely up to you.

Tip 7: Create a plan for your career & take action TODAY!

They say “A GOAL WITHOUT A PLAN IS JUST A DREAM”. They are wise!

Another wise saying I have taken to heart is when you have a great idea – if you Act on it within 3 minutes of having it – it becomes highly likely to start, and if you delay that it may never happen ~ so GET TO IT!

I recommend using a personal coach to help you create the plan and help you stick to it – My husband and I met our business coach Bridget at a planning session she was running and have now worked closely with Bridget for 2 years, enjoying great success-  culminating in a nomination for small businesses excellence in the 2017 NSW Business Chamber Awards. Think of the money spent on a coach as an investment in you and the future you are about to create!

& Tip 8: (A free tip just for you 😉 ) – ENJOY THE JOURNEY!!

Originally posted 15/1/18

Have you heard about our Global Veterinary Career Summit? Veterinary Careers is partnering with Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify and The DVM Project join us from 24 June for 5 days and over 30 hours of Career CPD and networking opportunities! For more information click here

Let me know how you go – At veterinarycareers.com.au we always like to hear about fantastic Veterinary Careers!

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Love your Career!


For more veterinary career resources please sign up to veterinarycareers.com.au and Follow us on Facebook and  Dr Emma Davis BVSc on LinkedIn.

New summit aimed at inspiring veterinary career growth and diversity

New summit aimed at inspiring veterinary career growth and diversity

London, UK
Guelph, Canada
Canberra, Aus

(April, 2020)

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging in many parts of the world, conferences have been postponed globally in all industries. However, veterinary career leadership won’t be stopping anytime soon thanks to an innovative virtual summit spanning the globe.  The Global Veterinary Careers Summit will take place online in the first week of June.  Aimed at veterinarians and veterinary nurses/technicians and students, the summit will combine interactive sessions and workshops with lectures full of practical career growth strategies.  Additionally, innovative networking sessions such as “Career Campfire/Career and a Beer,” and micro-learning through quick how-tos and careers stories ensure participants will not be suffering from Zoom fatigue anytime soon.

The organizers, three female veterinary leaders from different continents, all spearhead communities dedicated to career growth in their respective countries. A Zoom call a few months ago solidified the partnership and idea for a virtual education event for careers. However, with the hardships facing so many practices worldwide, and the intensifying pressures facing veterinarians, the group knew they needed to act quickly.  The group is planning to keep ticket prices at an affordable rate as an additional way to help the profession access this important training opportunity.

Dr Emma Davis BVSc, Founder Global Veterinary Solutions Pty Ltd

Dr. Emma Davis believes in the value that veterinarians bring to society.

Emma brings a wealth of experience from developing global networks to working one on one with veterinary professionals across a range of career and business topics from undergraduate veterinarians to highly regarded scientific academics. Davis says “I want all veterinarians to love their veterinary career, every type of work that a veterinarian undertakes brings huge value to the world. However, often the veterinarians are so busy working for their clients and keeping up with the science that they miss the opportunity of investing in themselves and clarifying what they actually want from their career. I coach vets on this and am excited to bring this to a unique international group format.’

Ebony Escalona, MRCVS, PhD, Founder Vets Stay, Go, Diversify

Dr. Ebony Escalona (UK) shares, “I am always looking for ways to provide online and offline career opportunities for the Vets Stay Go Diversify! Community and with the success of VSGD LIVE! Now over 2 years ago it was time to come offer up something fresh. Our community has gone global and so partnering up was just a no brainer. The super thing about going virtual is it opens up the doors to the whole global profession. All you need is wifi and to nab a spot!”

Melanie Barham, DVM, PMP, Founder The DVM Project

Dr. Melanie Barham (North America) adds, “It’s an incredibly exciting event. Bringing together expertise from all different continents to showcase all the things you can be in veterinary medicine, we’re aiming to help people feel hopeful about their careers, and their ideal place within the profession.   Belonging, personal growth, and community have been pillars of all of our communities, so working together across time zones to bring an unparalleled opportunity to help the profession just makes sense.” Further, Barham says, “It’s not about getting people to leave practice either.  It’s really about how to know your own strengths and interests depending on your life stage, what opportunities are available, and how to pursue them.”

Find out more here by registering your interest: https://bit.ly/2VXxSlx

Ticket numbers and prices will be released soon!

If you are keen to partner with us on this exciting project, if you want more details or to arrange an interview with the organisers please email: myveterinarycareer@gmail.com

Image from the Award winning VSGD LIVE! 2018

Announcing the Global Online Veterinary Career Summit! …. Coming in June 2020! Register Your Interest Today!


We are super proud to announce the launch of the Global Online Veterinary Careers Summit!

VeterinaryCareers.com.au (AUS and NZ) is working in partnership with The DVM Project Career Discussion Group (Canada and US)  and Vets Stay, Go Diversify (UK and EUR)

Register your interest to get involved in the link below and be part of this interactive community extravaganza 

Register your interest here!

We would love to include photos of this community in the summit to showcase our diverse #VetPassports ! So, to celebrate today pop photos of your veterinary careers and journeys in the comments below


Emma Davis, Co-founder of VeterinaryCareers.com.au           

Emma will join us all the way from Australia and will help us to make the most of career opportunities all around us. Veterinarycareers.com.au is a career hub that specialises in roles outside of traditional veterinary practice – such as public practice, research, and corporate veterinary roles. Promoting the role of the veterinarian in society in addressing issues of animal welfare, zoonotic and emerging disease, biosecurity, food safety & security.

Ebony Escalona, founder of  Vets Stay Go Diversify!  Ebony– founder of VSGD from the UK is all about bringing community together and showcasing the career stories inside us all. Vets Stay Go Diversify! is a veterinary careers community like no other. Over 13, 000 global members in the VSGD Facebook group explore potential together online and in person!

Melanie Barham, founder of The DVM Project

Melanie is from Guelph and brings the research into focus about our career stories and why we do what we do. The DVM Project‘s goal is to share, to connect, and to embrace and explore differences within careers in veterinary medicine. Loads of food for thought through interviews, stories and advice from veterinarians from all different career paths.

World Veterinary Day 2020 – ‘Environmental protection for improving animal and human health’

World Veterinary Day 2020 – ‘Environmental protection for improving animal and human health’

Wishing all my colleagues a Happy World Veterinary Day!

The theme of today is “Environmental protection for improving animal and human health” – and how pertinent in these uncertain times with a global pandemic afoot.

So, from my heart to yours please take a few moments today to reflect and celebrate the amazing work that you do as part of the veterinary profession!

I believe that every type of work that a veterinarian does is of huge benefit to society and that vets are often the quiet achievers – the steady conscientious professionals who get on with the job and who do not like creating a fuss.

So today a VERY BIG THANKYOU for all that you do! I see you working away committed and focused and I know the personal commitment and energy it takes – please know that you are valued and appreciated!

Warm regards


~ Love Your Veterinary Career ~
Dr Emma Davis BVSc, Executive Coach
Dr Emma Davis BVSc Veterinary Career & Business Coaching
Director, Global Veterinary Solutions Pty. Ltd
E: Myveterinarycareer@gmail.com
W:  VeterinaryCareers.com.au

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Navigating COVID-19 – Business Tips for the Veterinary Industry #2 JobKeeper Payment

Navigating COVID-19 – Business Tips for the Veterinary Industry #2 JobKeeper PaymentAUSTRALIAN VETERINARIANS – especially LOCUMS.

As an employer, wage earner or sole trader, the JobKeeper Payment is intended to provide wage subsidies to businesses that are significantly affected by COVID-19. The Government has announced its intention to pass additional legislation to introduce this new measure. If legislation is enacted, support will be directed to employers to pass on to employees. Register your interest and they will send you updates- register at: https://www.ato.gov.au/general/gen/JobKeeper-payment/?=redirected_JobKeeper