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 –

Global Health at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface – University of Geneva | Coursera – Free Online Course

About this course:

The University of Geneva, Institute Pasteur, University of Montreal and Centre Virchow-Villermé/University Paris Descartes welcome you to this new MOOC on “Global Health at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface”! Over the next 5 weeks, you will explore and learn about some of the major and current Global Health Challenges at the Human-Animal-Ecosystem Interface: zoonotic emerging infections (e.g. Ebola, Nipah, MERS, Avian Influenza), antimicrobial resistance, neglected tropical diseases (e.g. rabies, leishmaniasis, zoonotic TB), snakebite and other human-animal conflicts etc.

You will learn new concepts from the field of epidemiology, social anthropology, disease ecology, veterinary sciences, global health policy etc. and approaches such as One Health, Eco-Health and Planetary Health. Also, you will learn about innovative tools and frameworks used to study and tackle some of these Global Health challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals era. This MOOC proposes you a dynamic, international and interdisciplinary programme based on the One Heath approach (human-animal-environmental dimensions) and involving more than 30 top experts from more than 20 academic and research institutions and international organisations based in Geneva, Paris, Montreal and the world.

Policy makers from the World Health Organisation, clinicians from the University Hospitals of Geneva, epidemiologists from Institut Pasteur etc. will share with you their knowledge and experiences all along this MOOC. Video-lectures have been filmed in different parts of the world and settings (from the field to the lab and office) and will be combined with the latest open readings and interactive activities in the discussion forum, video-conferences etc.

But that is not all! This MOOC will also give you the opportunity to join us in Geneva and develop your project idea during a workshop in July 2017, for free! This MOOC will keep evolving and enriching actively over time and a whole section on health promotion at the human-animal-ecosystem interface will be added in autumn 2017.

The development of this MOOC was led by Dr. Rafael Ruiz de Castañeda, Dr. Isabelle Bolon and Prof. Antoine Flahault from the Institute of Global Health of the University of Geneva. The list of instructors is completed by Prof. Arnaud Fontanet (Institut Pasteur) and Prof. André Ravel (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Montreal).

Watch our teaser here and let’s get started! https://youtu.be/WT7-cC21uLU?list=PLnZ   (with subtitles in French and in Chinese) Interface – University of Geneva | Coursera

Find out more at THIS LINK

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