The ACVPM aka at the post graduation Year 5 mark, why not up the ante even more?

So the next 6 months are going to be an interesting exercise in my efforts to blog whilst juggling life and work – I’ve been accepted to sit the ACVPM boards exam.

What’s the ACVPM?

It’s the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. Think of it like big picture veterinary medicine. The stuff that probably doesn’t get associated with veterinarians as much on the media unless it involves puppies and kittens… (not that there’s anything wrong with that as our cat Glen Coco can vouch with his fine fez).

What is the exam made up of?

This exam is broken into 5 parts

  1. Infectious diseases
  2. Public Health administration and education
  3. Food Safety
  4. Environmental Health and toxicology
  5. Epidemiology and Biostatistics

The exam is run over 2 days – Day 1 will be a 6 hour block of short answer and essay questions broken into the 5 sections; Day 2 will be a 6 hour block of 300 questions evenly spread over the 5 sections.

Aren’t you doing your Masters?

Yes, I am currently completing my Masters in Veterinary Public Health. This should be completed within the next year.

So how are you preparing?

  1. I’ve been mainlining the ProMed posts for the past 3-4 years – it’s a good way to get a scope of what is current and topical – which is critical for the essay section which often pulls from the past few years of disease events.
  2. I’ve scared myself by looking at the reading list that is required for this exam… I’m still scared.
  3. I’ve enrolled into an online course run by the Centre for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University. There’s a ton of resources here and it’s a platform to interact with other candidates who are mostly based in the US.
  4. The word on the street is that I also have to have an intimate understanding of the compendia from the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians
  5. The hope is also utilise much of the foundation knowledge I have picked up during my adventures through my Masters in Veterinary Public Health.
  6. I’ll be sitting this exam with 2 other friends who are similarly minded on this side of the world. Whilst we are separated geographically in the region, having allies who are going through the same challenges is important to me – it’s how I got through vet school.


I feel that I will be asking myself that frequently over the coming months. There’s some logic behind all this (buried amongst a ton of ego).

  1. I am now 5 years out from graduation. This is the time many of us veterinarians start to work out where we’d like to develop our skills or even specialize. As someone who has an interest in all things public health, surveillance, biosecurity and epidemiology, I would like to upskill in these areas. Here in Australia, we used to have a Veterinary Public Health chapter under the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists – the college that facilitates our structured further training towards becoming specialists. Sadly, in the 1990’s, the chapter folded due to a lack of applicants sitting the exam and the exam was run intermittently until 2003. Since then, we’ve not had any formal process to develop our skills in that area apart from doing a graduate degree such as a Masters or PhD. There is a Chapter for Epidemiology which facilitates the membership and fellowship exams for epidemiology. Whilst I do see myself sitting at least the membership exam for epi into the future, I do want to be recognised in the world of veterinary public health… Which is an odd thing to want right?
  2. The dream would be to pass this exam and be part of the team that is seeking to build up the chapter and specialty of veterinary public health within Australia.
  3. Some of the blogs on the ACVPM exam talk about pay rises with getting boarded. As this is a non-existent specialty here in Australia, there’s no chance of that.
  4. Yet, there is hope to carve a small niche in the world of preventive veterinary medicine (and veterinary public health), and be part of the movement to make it a recognisable discipline in Australasia.

So what does this mean for Veterinary Careers?

I’m going to be juggling this quite a bit, however I reckon there is a win-win here. For anyone who’s ever considered sitting the ACVPM board exams, there’s a well frequented blog out there by Dr Elliot Garber (he of the “Uncommon Veterinarian” fame) where he muses before and after taking the exam with some great tips scattered for any potential candidates. My hope is to replicate Dr Garber’s efforts by writing about the study experience – this way we can track my descent into crazy study land, I can practice my communication skills via the blogging experience, and I can use my quite-frequent procrasti-brainwaves in a more productive manner. I won’t be putting any material up here from the prep course or other study sources, but hope to take the core messages from each section and see how such principles and investigations apply in Australia.

Am I going to pass?

Maybe, maybe not – but it certainly is worth a stab.


Guy is a Director for Veterinary Careers – he secretly works in clinical veterinary practice (and his opinions are reflective of his own and not of his place of work), whilst completing his Masters in Veterinary Public Health. He enjoys the interface of clinical practice and case management whilst unleashing his VPH-nerdiness onto the unsuspecting public. 

Choose Science. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose epidemiology. Choose a quality-designed study, peer-reviewed journals, replicable studies, critical thinking and meta-analyses. Choose veterinary public health. Choose viruses, bacteria, fungi and prions. Choose zoonoses, transboundary diseases, food safety and one health. Choose multi-disciplinary collaborations. Choose vaccination programs and disease eradication. Choose developing country work. Choose research. Choose communication and explaining concepts that are digestible to the public. Choose to take on the tough challenges, the snake oil peddlers and the pits of mistruth. Choose a world which appreciates science- and evidence-based approaches to issues. Choose to give a sh!t. 

Choose your future

Choose science. (*)

(*) With full apologies to fans of John Hodge, Renton and Trainspotting.


Drones to unleash vaccine-laced M&Ms in bid to save endangered ferrets | The Guardian

How awesome is this? The US Fish and Wildlife service are using vaccine-laced M&Ms to deliver protection to at risk ferrets and prairie dogs.


Drone technology certainly has come a long way and will hopefully expand even more in the delivery of disease surveillance and agricultural opportunities.

Let’s all remember that before Skynet becomes active.

Source: Drones to unleash vaccine-laced M&Ms in bid to save endangered ferrets | Environment | The Guardian

ADVERTISE your VETERINARY JOB VACANCY NOW & receive 70% OFF special BONUS RATE ~ valid until June 30 2016


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(Usually $100.00 AUD)

this package includes:

  • Distribution of your job advert to a targeted audience
  • now features a veterinary industry audience of between 3 and 10 000 members and will tailor the audience to the specifics details of your advertisement
  • Weekly re-posts and a FEATURE STATUS for 30 days
  • Your advertisement in the featured jobs section ~ front page
  • Available for the first 2 job ads you place in June – then standard rates apply.


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The website is a job board that specialises in veterinary public practice roles, and also provides current news and information about issues related to our field.

The admin of this site are each experienced in different sectors of public veterinary practice and have a good understanding of world trade, domestic biosecurity and food safety. We are keen and ready to work with veterinarians seeking job roles (even consultancies) and with employers seeking the right person for the role.

Our service is free for veterinarians looking for work – you can simply create a profile, save your resume and send through any job applications via the site (and your profile will record all your applications).

Advertisers pay a reasonable fee for a range of services like our EOFY $30 deal

Source: Products | Veterinary Careers

The Path to Public Practice – 3.0 Postgraduate course work or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the study

[If you haven’t already done so, have a read of parts 1.0 and 2.0 – Guy]

So you’ve done your time in clinical practice and now you want to take the next step.

Many of us, including the team behind, have gone into postgraduate study. The decision to undertake (yet again) more study is for a couple of reasons:

  1. To develop new skills – As professionals, we are constantly learning and we need to stay up to date with the latest studies and data out there.
  2. To have a formal qualification to enter into a new field – Many of the jobs out there require postgraduate training.
  3. To stay competitive – with the number of veterinary graduates out there, there is a need to get the step up that will improve your chances for employment.

So in the world of veterinary public practice, what courses are on offer out there?

I have had a scour around of Masters programs that are on offer in Australasia for veterinarians that are looking towards public practice. Many of these programs offer flexibility for part time study or even distance education.

Full disclosure, I am finishing off my Masters within one of these institutions. I, or the team from Veterinary Careers, do not get any kickbacks from any of these institutions (although, if any of them would like to advertise with us, point them towards this page)

The lists below is certainly not definitive, it seeks to act as a platform for further investigation and research. Unless stated, the list below is made up of primarily Masters programs from Australia and New Zealand. Some of these programs can be undertaken as a Graduate Certificate or Diploma. Additionally, I am primarily focussing on universities that have a Veterinary school or are recommended by veterinarians in public practice.

The University of Queensland (QLD)

  1. School of Veterinary Science
  2. School of Public Health

James Cook University (QLD)

  1. College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Science
    • Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
    • Master of Public Health – Generic; Communicable Disease Control; Biosecurity and Disaster Preparedness
    • Master of Tropical Veterinary Science

The University of Sydney (NSW)

  1. Faculty of Veterinary Science
  2. School of Public Health


Charles Sturt University (NSW)

  1. The School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Australian National University (ACT)

  1. Research School of Population Health

The University of Melbourne (Vic)

  1. Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences
  2. The School of Population and Global Health

Murdoch University (WA)

  1. School of Veterinary and Life Sciences

Massey University (NZ)

  1. The Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences
  2. The School of Public Health

I’d consider this list as the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is on offer out there – there are plenty of universities abroad that are offering similar courses.

Ultimately, the course you chose is dependent on what you would like to gain out of the training. I personally like the broad approach that I get in my Masters program that allows me to build my overall skills in veterinary public health, while there are others who would like to get into the meaty side of Epidemiology, Conservation Biology or Policy.

Each Masters program has its strengths and weaknesses. Many of the distance education programs are reliant on discussion board, peer-peer learning – there are benefits of such a system to allow space and opportunities for everyone to have a voice compared with a physical classroom, however for those of us who are extroverts, these online classrooms can be a curse.

Does one institute provide more opportunity than the other? Generally speaking – no. Some courses provide opportunities for placements or access to networks or researchers that may not be universal, yet there is no way to truly quantify between the institutions. The universities will market themselves to get you (and your money) enrolled, so I encourage that you do your homework:

  • What do you see yourself upskilling in?
  • Are you seeking a career in driving policy, field work, management or consultancy?
  • Look around at current jobs out there and see what the selection criteria are for required education and skill sets.
  • Will the course-work match in with my work/lifestyle?
  • Am I ready to give up my spare time for this?

I personally spent 6 months hunting around the different institutions and ultimately settled on a Master of Veterinary Public Health with The University of Sydney – it certainly has been a good fit for me for my lifestyle, yet I have friends who swear by many of the other coursework Masters out there.

Best of luck and stay tuned for the next in this series – in a title I have yet to figure out!

ESCMID: Antimicrobial Stewardship in Veterinary Medicine Conference


In a recent subject I did under my Masters of Veterinary Public Health, there was some discussion on antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) amongst veterinarians. Yet what does that mean and how can it be applied within a private practitioner setting. On the 11-12 of September, 2016, the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious diseases will be hosting an antimicrobial stewardship conference in Sweden. Further details are in the link below. I can feel a blog idea come along, so I shall leave it there for now, except to say – while we veterinarians may get prickly whenever someone from the medical side points the finger at how we “abuse” antimicrobials, we should be more aware of our role and capacity to limit the increase in resistance.

Source: ESCMID: Antimicrobial Stewardship in Veterinary Medicine