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.

Unreal Veterinary Careers – An interview with Dr Deborah Neutze, Veterinary Consultant

“Stopping to smell the roses” in Nice, France

Introduction by Emma:  I feel that Debbie needs no introduction ?!

Dr Deborah Neutze, immediate ex- National Strategy and Media Manager as AVA staff, a fantastic lady, excellent practitioner and all-round committed and tireless advocate for our Veterinary Profession. I first got to work with Deb in 2009 as she secured a government grant and organised an AVA conference: The changing role of women in the veterinary profession, for the Practice Management Group, this was an excellent conference full of forward-thinking speakers taking the bull by the horns and addressing so many key changes and opportunities that feminisation of the profession will entail. Debbie has continued in that theme from this point forward! I am pleased to have Deb as a friend and colleague – Thanks Deb – for your time today…   Now some questions for you!…

1. What are you working on/ towards at the moment?

I am presently in the process of establishing my own veterinary industry consultancy business.  My con)sultancy will offer services along the lines of my previous work with the AVA, for instance – assistance with veterinary policy development; public affairs advice around assisting organisations interact with and influencing key stakeholders; submissions to government consultations and reviews; industry trend analyses; and independent analysis of planned veterinary industry projects.

My hope is to find some meaty, worthwhile projects that are aimed at making a positive contribution for the veterinary profession and the world that vets operate in.

I am also privileged to have recently been invited to be part of the Federal Government’s focus group working on the Animal Sector National Antimicrobial Resistance Plan for 2018 AMR is one of the most worrying threats to both public and animal health and being personally involved with developing plans to reduce these potential risks is very rewarding.

2. What drives you?

A passion for the veterinary profession and the animals that we treat and advocate on behalf of.

I love being a veterinarian. Being a vet has enriched my life on many levels. Firstly, as a clinician, I really enjoyed the varied and interesting workload, every day was different – who knew what would walk in each day and the amazing, amusing and emotional stories that would come from these interactions.  Secondly, as part of the veterinary profession I count myself extraordinarily lucky to have so many veterinary colleagues that I can count on.  Thirdly, being able to have a second “career” working for the AVA – “looking after the vets instead of the pets” as I used to tell people who asked what I did once I no longer worked as a clinical veterinarian.

I feel that the penultimate evidence of my passion for the veterinary profession is seen in the fact that my oldest son decided to follow in my footsteps and become a veterinarian. I hope when he is my age, he has the same passion for the profession.

3. What have been the major transitions in your path?

I graduated in 1983 and started work at Forestville Veterinary Hospital as a small animal practitioner. After 12 months I moved to Guildford Veterinary Hospital, which was the vet practice where I had taken all my animals as a child. I bought in as a partner the following year. I stayed at Guildford Veterinary Hospital for 25 years, during which time we bought two more practices; were awarded the AVPMA Practice of Excellence in Customer Service, the first year that it was offered, and I completed a Graduate Certificate in Management.

One day while sitting in the lunchroom I noticed that everyone in the room that day had not been born when I started working at Guildford Vets, so I decided it was time to try something different. I had recently been the AVA NSW President and on the AVA Policy Council and really enjoyed contributing to the profession. So, I decided to sell my practices, with the intent of semi-retiring and working part-time for the AVA. I took on the role as the Executive Officer for the Australian Veterinary Practice Management Association. I enjoyed this so much, (and I didn’t really enjoy semi-retirement so much) that I also combined working as the Executive Officer for the AVA NSW Division. During my time as the EO for the AVPMA I won a grant to run a veterinary conference specifically looking at issues for women in the profession.

After a few years, I changed roles to become the AVA National Membership and Strategy Manager, and then the AVA Strategy Manager and then AVA Policy Manager.

Walking with elephants in the wild,  Botswana

In the Policy Manager role, I have advocated on behalf of the profession preparing submissions for government consultations and inquiries, spoke at Senate Inquiries and at the FairWork Commission, met with federal politicians and undertook an audit of the veterinary practice legislation in Australia. I led the development of the national AVA Graduate Mentoring Scheme, undertook AVA veterinary workforce analyses; and developed the AVA Internship Guidelines.


I have also sat on the NSW Veterinary Practitioner’s Board, including Chair of Complaints; been a member of the ATO’s Small Business Stewardship Group: and the University of Sydney’s Veterinary Faculty Financial Sustainability Board.

This year I was elected to the AVA Board and as such for good governance I have recently resigned employment with the AVA.

4. What has been a major highlight of your career?

Advocating successfully for the veterinary profession to stop the government deregulating university fees and increasing the interest on HECS payments. This would have seen a massive increase in veterinary degree fees and a significant increase in HECS interest fees to existing graduates. I undertook financial modelling of the proposed changes; advocated to the Minister’s office, shadow Minister and cross benches; spoke at a Senate inquiry; wrote multiple submissions and talked to the media.

5. What advice would you provide a younger you?

Slow down and smell the roses (or rather pat the kittens). Time goes by so fast, just try to cherish every step along the way.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, things that today seem like big issues are usually gone and forgotten in a few weeks’ time.

Be yourself, don’t worry about what others are thinking of you, if you are true to yourself you will gain their respect anyway.

Thanks Deb – I am sure like me, many will be very inspired by such a great contribution to our profession! Thankyou for all that you have done and do for us! We look forward to seeing what additional amazing projects you will drive and be a part of! Also, if people want to know more about the APMVA – the next conference is later this month and you can find out more information here. Talk soon – Emma.

  • Ends –

Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program for Women, Australian Agriculture

Australian agriculture has joined forces to forge a new pathway for women in ag leadership with the establishment of the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program.

Women have been the backbone of farming since agriculture began in our nation.

However, the fact remains, female representation on farm is not matched in the senior ranks and around the board tables of our farm representative organisations and agribusinesses. And our industry is poorer for it.

When I take a look around the organisations advocating on behalf of farmers and agribusinesses servicing our industry, there is a distinct lack of female representation.

I believe this is out of step with actual farm businesses, the vast majority of which are family owned and where women absolutely play an equal role.

    – Fiona Simson, President, National Farmers’ Federation

About the Program

There are two main elements of the Diversity in Ag Leadership Program:

1)      An opportunity for agribusiness and ag-representative bodies to commit to auditing their gender diversity and to formally pledge to making meaningful change towards evening the gender ledger, and

2)      An opportunity for aspiring female leaders to benefit from one-on-one mentoring. Graduates of the program will go on to be a part of a valuable alumni of skilled female leaders with aspirations to apply their leadership skills across the agricultural sector.

Applications now open

Applications are now open for the Diversity in Ag Leadership Program.

  • Women over 25 years of age, who have already started their leadership journey, are encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants are required to provide an up-to-date CV.
  • Applicants should address the required selection criteria (see below).
  • The names and contact details of three (3) referees are required.
  • Applicants must, except in approved exceptions, be available to travel to Canberra for two one-day events during May 2018 and October 2018 (dates to be confirmed) and commit to dedicating a cumulative additional 75 hours to the program.
  • The NFF will cover the approved costs of travel and associated expenses to a cap of $4500.
  • Applications must be submitted by 5pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) 12 April, 2018.


1. Describe your interest, skills and experience in agriculture and the industries that support it?
2. How would you describe ‘leadership’?
3. Outline your leadership aspirations and the steps you have taken to date to realise these aspirations.
4. Describe why you are interested in being a part of the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program?
5. Apart from the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program, what plans do you have to progress your leadership journey?
6. Outline your time availability to commit to the Program, should you be successful, keeping in mind the requirement is to dedicate a minimum of 75 hours to the program.
7. Do you believe your gender has constrained your leadership aspirations to date? Are there any other factors that have been restrictive? (your answer to this question won’t be assessed as part of your application – we’re just interested to know!)

Click here to apply.

More about the mentoring program

With their mentor, each mentoree will be required to establish ‘leadership goals’, outline steps to achieving these goals and, and put in place steps to measure progress towards these goals.

The 2018 Program will culminate in a Graduation at the NFF’s National Congress during October and the establishment of the DiALP Alumni.


Source: Diversity in Agriculture Leadership


Enjoy 3 well spent hours focusing on your most important asset – > You!

This seminar will increase awareness and clarity of your career, financial and personal ambitions and create a workable plan on how to get there. Take control of your career path as you focus on what is important and recognize the progress you are making in achieving your goals.

Date: February 3, 2018 5:30 – 8.30 PM Sydney, AEST

OR  for UK/Europe: 6.30 – 9.30 AM 3rd February 2018 , London GMT

Place: Online Event

Investment:   $55.00 GST (AUD)

This is an online event hosted in a Zoom room. Participants will need access to a quiet space with a computer that will run a zoom program to listen, reflect, interact and undertake the planning process. We recommend bringing a journal/a notebook and some great pens too!

An online event being held on Saturday 3rd February 2018 at 5:30 -8.30 PM Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney (AEST)


BVA news – BVA President: could it be you?

BVA officers ensure the Association fulfills its mission to represent, support and champion the whole UK veterinary profession

Nominations for the President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) for 2019/20 are now open and will run until 15 January 2018, with all veterinary surgeons invited to self-nominate or nominate a fellow BVA member with their consent.

The BVA officer team consists of BVA President, Senior Vice President (SVP) and Junior Vice President (JVP). BVA Officers collectively, and working closely with the Chief Executive and his team, provide leadership to BVA to help ensure the Association fulfils its mission to be the leading body representing, supporting and championing BVA members and the whole UK veterinary profession.

This year, to ensure that BVA officers cover as broad a range of veterinary expertise as possible, BVA would particularly welcome applications for the next JVP (2018/2019), becoming BVA President in 2019/20, from BVA members:

  • in or very recently in clinical practice
  • with a background in animal welfare science, ethics and law
  • with a thorough understanding/awareness of the current veterinary landscape
  • with an understanding of workforce issues, including retention and recruitment, and the professional needs and expectations of recent graduates
  • Nominations for the next JVP are confidential and will be assessed by the BVA Electoral College, which assesses nominations and formally selects members for election to BVA officer status.

Each officer role (JVP, President, SVP) is for one-year term from BVA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in September to the AGM the following September. Candidates for JVP and President must be elected by the membership at the AGM to serve the coming year. The total commitment is therefore three years as a BVA officer, plus a further three years serving as a past president on BVA Council (four meetings per year).

BVA President John Fishwick said: “As a BVA officer, it is a huge honour to represent the UK’s veterinary profession however it is not simply an ‘honorary role’, particularly during this time of professional, social and political upheaval when BVA is supporting and championing the vital role vets play more than ever before.

“I have been a BVA officer for 15 months now and it is a privilege to be so involved in a profession that is pivotal to animal health and welfare, and public health too.

“Part of the role is representing the views of our profession clearly and concisely to policymakers, politicians and the media and, although this may seem daunting, you have the full support of the BVA team and are given invaluable training.

“I would encourage anyone with a passion to promote the value of the veterinary profession, and who is seeking a fulfilling role, to apply to help ensure BVA continues to be a strong voice for our profession.”

BVA members who are interested in applying for, or nominating a fellow BVA member with their consent to become part of the BVA officer team, can find out more on our BVA officer elections page. The closing date for nominations is 9am on 15 January 2018.

14 December 2017

Source: BVA news – BVA President: could it be you?