Vets bare all for Burrumbuttock Hay Runners | The Examiner

CAPTURE: James Cook University vet students support the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners this year with their annual Vets Uncovered Calendar. Photo: Vicki (Miller) Pugh.
James Cook University Vets Uncovered 2018 Calendar raises funds for Burrumbuttock Hay Runners

James Cook University students have launched their annual nude calendar and video that gives an insight into how 2018 Vets Uncovered calendar was shot.

In its third year, Veterinary Science students from Townsville are raising money for their graduation ball and this year’s chosen charity, Burrumbuttock Hay Runners.

About 70 students took part in this year’s calendar, hoping to raise as much money as possible for drought-stricken farmers.

Fourth year Veterinary Science student, Amy Neale, said 10 per cent of the proceeds would go to the Hay Runners.

“If we sell all 1500 copies, we will be able to donate $3000 to the charity,” Ms Neale said.

“Each year we try to chose a charity relevant to us, as rural vet science students. So this year we chose the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners to help them support local farmers.

“Each year Burrumbuttock Hay Runners do a charity run to drought-stricken parts of Queensland and supply feed and produce to farmers who are doing it tough.

“As the drought continues it is definitely relevant to Queensland at the moment, so we wanted to support something close to our hearts and assist farmers.”

The photoshoot was taken at Grass Hut, Charters Towers with photographer Vicki (Miller) Pugh capturing the students on her property.

“We got some beautiful shots around Vicki’s horse stud, on machinery, in the yards, around baby farm animals; so there is a bit of everything,” Ms Neale said.

“These beautiful shots will definitely catches people attention and it was all a bit of fun and in good spirit.

“As our calendar is rural-themed in conjunction with our course and charity, it allows the agriculture industry to be seen in a different, more fulfilling light.

“We are just so happy with the community, university and industry support since we started this process three years ago.

“The support we get each year from vet clinics and industry-based professionals is great and makes it all the more worthwhile.”

The 2018 Vets Uncovered calendar is available for pre-sales and the calendars will be shipped out in October.

Source: Vets bare all for Burrumbuttock Hay Runners | The Examiner 

The Path to Public Practice – 2.0 So you’ve graduated – now what?

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” – Douglas Adams

I need to have that quote designed into a motivational poster. With a killer whale because they’re badass. A killer whale that’s lost its porpoise (*). Oh look, here is one I found for all you meme designers – I’d appreciate it framed and ready to hang.


Anyway, welcome to episode 2 of my ramblings on how to get into public practice.

This one is dedicated to all the students and recent grads who have asked me questions around this theme.

So you’ve gone through vet school, learnt which end of a cat to stick a thermometer in and survived your equine hospital rotation. Was it fun? Do you want to do that again? Probably not, otherwise you’d not be reading this blog. Or maybe you’ve done your 10 years in clinical practice and want a change, if so, humour me whilst I write this for the new/recent graduates out there.

There you are on your graduation day, semi-keen about all things veterinary public practice and wondering what are you going to do now?

You could go into the world of clinical practice and earn your share of war stories and scars to match. Or you could step away altogether from the world of private practice and adventure your way into any number of roles.

I remember being a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 2nd-year student approaching a government veterinarian at a conference and asking his advice on how to get into his role. He advised me that I should go and get a few years under my belt in practice-land before making the leap to government land. This was not a one-off piece of advice – several academics, industry reps and clinicians had made similar points during my student years.

However, on the flip side of that advice, I’ve a number of other friends (bonded through our mutual dislike of all things surgery) who’d made the jump straight into public practice – either through a graduate program or directly in a role such as a district veterinarian or in industry. The majority of them are thriving with the shift into the public sphere and don’t feel like they are missing out (**). So it is a viable option for many out there.

Why was there a strong push for us all to take our step into clinical practice? The common answer I get is that it may be the only opportunity you could get to apply those skills you learnt at university on a practical level. Yet, I feel the more powerful lesson in spending some time in clinical practice is to develop and hone the essential “softer” skills for public practice – communication, time management and leadership.

Where else can you get the space and opportunity to practice your skills in effective communication (‘you really should vaccinate your dog’), diplomacy (‘Oh I know you read something different in Google, yet I can’t recommend enough that vaccinating your dog will protect it a range of infectious diseases’), anger management (‘no, the vaccines won’t give your dog autism’) and restraint (‘your dog has got parvo? Bring him in now for treatment’). These are critical skills that are necessary for all public practitioners and  it is in the consult room that you can identify your strengths/weaknesses and hone your technique.

Public speaking is another communication skillset that is easily developed whilst in clinical practice. For some people, it is a fate worse than death, however those same people have no problem running a consult or conducting a puppy preschool. Private practice allows plenty of opportunities to develop your rhythm and style. It also helps diversify your communication range – there have been days when I have bounced from stitching up a pig dog, performing a post mortem on some dead calves, vaccinating some kittens and euthanising a beloved guinea pig – each scenario brings its own communication challenges and I have found that you will have to employ a series of styles to suit each client. Obviously, there are other avenues one can explore if they have a crippling fear of speaking in front of a lot of people – sporting club involvement, Toastmasters or even presenting talks at the local school.

It takes a couple of years to develop your technical skills to juggle multiple consult rooms at the same time while dashing into the treatment room to calculate your pre-medication doses for the spey you have during “procedure time”. As someone who has the organisational skills of a cucumber, this experience was probably a harder lesson to learn than anything to do with the Citric Acid Cycle (***). On the flipside, private practice is also great space to realise that schedules can be thrown out the window in the face of emergencies and unforeseen discoveries (‘After you are done vaccinating Fluffy, can you please check her ears, she’s been shaking her head for 3 weeks’). As vet school had a high number of “type A” personalities, this latter lesson may also be a difficult process for some. Once again – the clinic can be a safe space for developing yourself in this area.

Leadership is a big subject area that I will leave a blog later [insert future hyperlink here, bending the rules of time and space, causing the internet to implode with a Kardashian twist] – just to say that we all have the capacity to lead from wherever are based in the professional totem pole.

Ultimately, your career path is very much going to be of your own making – you can jump straight into the world of public practice or you can dabble in the world of clinical practice. If ever I were to have any public practice-keen, bright eyed and bushy tailed students approach me for advice, I’d be echoing that government vet and recommend the path of clinical practice as a stepping stone towards being a successful public practitioner.

Next up – formal post-graduate courses

Til then, never lose sight of your porpoise.

* #dadjoke

** Pure anecdote and with about as much weight in evidence as an organic wellness blog you read off a friend’s Facebook wall.

*** – all jokes aside, Biochemistry is the devil.

Tales from a cohort of vet students….

The image is the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine (phot credit to Sue Myers Smith) but just imagine a case study where you – as a vet student – are part of that group being investigated for a disease incident.

I present a real (2015) case for your consideration: Pneumonia, cause unknown – South Korea (03): (SO) VET STUDENTS [Sourced from PROMED [Date: Sat 31 Oct 2015] Source: South Korea Ministry of Health]

The Korea Center for Disease Control & Prevention [KCDC] (director, Yang Byung Guk) said as of 31 Oct 2015, a total of 44 cases are currently being investigated, and there are confirmed pneumonia radiological patterns in 41 cases who are identified as suspected patients. They are distributed in 7 hospitals receiving treatment.
* Suspected patients: people who visited Konkuk University Animal Life Sciences Building after 8 Oct 2015 with fever of 37.5 C [99 F] and chest x-ray findings of pneumonia.
* The remaining 3 are being monitored at home (currently they have mild symptoms; if there are any unusual symptoms, they will take chest x-rays).
The 41 suspected cases show fever, muscle pain, and mild pneumonia symptoms; and respiratory symptoms show relatively rare pneumonia findings that there are no severe cases.

Hmmm a cluster hey! Well what do you know – a cluster of vet students….

You have to wonder what they were exposed to? When they were exposed was it one lucky class room full over in a one day session – or was exposure shown to have occurred over a week – or between 8-31 October?

What exactly are they housing in the ‘Konkuk University Animal Life Sciences Building’? {ed. are they doing testing for influenza virus? and in which case who exactly are they targeting?]

Is it just a vet school hospital with a sick dog as a patient with an unknown fever and respiratory disease? and if so what tests are they doing on this dog? What are they looking for in the cohort of 44 students? Whats come up negative and whats come up positive?

Aren’t we a lucky bunch that not only can we diagnose animal disease that occasionally (and maybe more often than we realise) we can also share it?

Who are your veterinary heroes?

James Herriot

James Herriot

Who inspires you in the vet world? (and have you thought about why they do?)

When I decided to become a vet I was reading texts on equine exercise physiology like they were penny-spend romance novels … I couldn’t get enough of fast and slow twitch muscle fibrils, the amazing ATP and its counterpart ATP~ase, the scintillating process of using long slow track work to increase glycogen usage and train muscles to use as energy the nasty by-product (lactic acid) of a sprint. I was virtually glowing with information (and driving my horse course lecturers insane with questions above and beyond what they had decided they would know an teach in the 12 month course).  To meet Professor Rose and (now) Prof Hodgson when I was accepted to Sydney University was just the bees-knees! To me they held nearly a celebrity status. I wanted to know what they knew, I wanted to forge new scientific knowledge and I admit – I may have held onto a short lived dream of being the first female race trainer to win the Melbourne Cup (thanks for nothing Sheila Laxon 😉 ).

However what sealed the ‘becoming a vet’ deal with me was the first outbreak of Hendra virus that occurred as I  was finishing up my 3 year equine science degree. What was this fascinating and devastating unknown disease that held the attention of the horse owners across the country, cutting directly through the barriers of the many and varied parts of the newly named ‘horse industry’ (albeit in its primitive state). From pony clubbers to the thoroughbred elite the news held us all amazed, shocked and terrified as the scientists started to give us new information. I wanted to know who these scientists were and how I could help, I wanted to be them – working on unraveling such important and cutting edge answers.  I REALLY wanted to find out answers and be part of a solution, this fired me up and drove me – my passion for knowledge saw me hurdle the fear of applying for a second (rather large) degree and getting stuck into vet school. For me I liked the idea of finding answers to something so big and dangerous, it was different to my Melbourne Cup dream of ‘being famous’  – it was doing work that mattered, of  using science to find hidden answers. Now those who know me know I actually don’t work in a lab – or nor have I won any horse races (yet!) – but I am happy in my career and excited about my future in it.

So what drives you? Is it the same thing today that inspired you to become a vet? or have you, like me, grown and changed with experience and are finding that different things are driving you now? Who were your Childhood heroes – was James Herriot one? Did you do vet ‘because of’ James Herriot?’ I remember nearly all the first year vet class raising their hand in answer to that one. What is it about these people that caught our attention and inspired us? What is it about us that made us so taken by them and the work that they do. Did your dreams become your reality and then have they they shifted with experience and as more doors opened?