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APRIL 2014 $6.95 INCL. SEPTEMBER 2013GST $6.95 GST INCL.

PRACTICE Petrepreneurs

Meet the folks helping us to pamper our pets. But can you indulge too much? See page 12

Giving until it hurts

How to recognise the signs of compassion fatigue, and how to cope with it, page 28

BORDER PATROL

Dr Helen Byrnes explains the adventure and rewards of travelling the world volunteering for Vets Beyond Borders

Special feature: Pet insurance

What’s in it for you? Our comprehensive guide to pet insurance, starting page 21


the single injection to fight infection


CONTENTS

Contents

April 2014

news + events

4. The cost of care The latest news from the veterinary world

your world 12. The fine line between pampered and spoilt Luxury items for pets are all the rage right now. But at what point does it all become too much?

your business 16. You’re hired! It costs up to two years’ salary to replace an employee. So what can you do to make sure you hire the right people the first time around?

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12

16

28

31

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21. Peace of mind Pet insurance is on the upsurge in Australia and veterinarians are one of the driving forces behind this recent uptake 28. Compassion fatigue The cost of caring can impact health, particularly for those new to the profession. Vet Practice uncovers how to manage the pressures of the job

cover story 24. Animal heroes For 10 years, Vet Beyond Borders has provided lifesaving care for animals across India and the Asia-Pacific region. Vet Practice talks to the inspirational volunteers who make it happen

your tools 10. New products The latest and greatest gear for your practice 31. Tools of the trade A brilliant blood pressure system for cats; the multi-use Apple iPad; a digital dental X-ray processing unit, and more are under review this month

your life 34. Under covers Dr Steve Denley of Balance Veterinary Care in Brisbane plays guitar in a country covers band

Editorial Director Rob Johnson

PRACTICE For all editorial or advertising enquiries: Phone (02) 9660 6995 Fax (02) 9518 5600 info@vetpracticemag.com.au

Editor Nicole Hogan

Sub-editor Kerryn Ramsey

Contributors Benito di Fonzo, Amanda Scotland, Chris Sheedy, Samantha Trenoweth

Creative Director Tim Donnellan

Sales Director Adam Cosgrove

Digital Director Ann Gordon

Commercial Director Mark Brown

Vet Practice magazine is published 11 times a year by Engage Media, Suite 4.17, 55 Miller Street, Pyrmont NSW 2009. ABN 50 115 977 421. Views expressed in Vet Practice magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher, editor or Engage Media. Printed by Webstar.


news + events The cost of care The AVA responds to alleged ‘upselling’ from veterinarians Dr BEN GARDINER, PRESIDENT OF the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), responded to media coverage alleging ‘upselling’ by veterinarians as disturbing. “We either have vets recommending services beyond the defensible, or we fail to communicate effectively about the value of the services we are recommending. It likely reflects the difficult reconciliation of the importance of pets in our lives with the rising costs of accessing the latest diagnostic and treatment services available. It is unfortunate there is no link between the degree of emotional value placed on a pet and their owner’s capacity to afford veterinary care. But affordability is only partly capacity and partly a value judgement,” said Gardiner. “Governments also make decisions on affordability. Over the past couple of decades, we have witnessed a significant decline in public veterinary services (PVS) and publicly funded laboratory services,

across all jurisdictions. The recent agreement over terms of engagement of private vets in an emergency animal disease outbreak is welcome but should not subvert the need for a properly funded PVS. Unfortunately, the ‘value’ of the PVS is complex to assess, and unless or until major breaches of biosecurity, chemical violation, animal welfare or food safety occur, it remains vulnerable to budgetary cuts. It’s become a ‘catch 22’—these veterinarians have done their job so well that they’ve created some redundancy. “Within the AVA, our biggest idea is to ‘drive the success of the profession’. Our purpose is clear: we believe our society and our animals have a better future if serviced by a successful veterinary profession. But such a big broad idea raises plenty of questions. “How can we positively influence society’s understanding and expectation of our services? How can we raise graduate

Court rules NSW vets should be licensed A COURT RULING ENABLING RACING NSW TO LICENSE vets has angered the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) which says it will continue to fight the regulation. AVA president Dr Ben Gardiner says it is a case of overregulation and detrimental to the sport. “We’re extremely disappointed that Justice Rothman has decided that current legislation gives Racing NSW the power to implement the proposed licensing scheme,” Gardiner said in a statement. “Vets are already very well regulated by the NSW Veterinary Practitioners Board and a second overlapping scheme is completely unnecessary. It makes no sense to have two different bodies trying to decide whether a vet has done the wrong thing or not.”

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Dr Ben Gardiner (above), AVA president, says vets are stuck in a ‘catch 22’ situation. earnings while sustaining strong veterinary businesses? How can we influence governments re the need for a strong public veterinary service? Is the supply of veterinary graduates being effectively managed to meet projected demands? How do we take best advantage of changes in technology, biomedical advances and demographic shift to deliver more efficient services? How can we mitigate the impact of ongoing deregulation and the rapid growth in competing para-veterinary training courses? Can we remain a single identifiable veterinary profession?” The full response can be read at www.ava.com.au.


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CH2 Vet Care is a leading provider of pharmaceutical, medical consumable, animal nutrition and equipment to veterinary practices across Australia. Make the switch to CH2 Vet Care today and you can count on our buying power delivering you greater savings with every order. Our simple online ordering solutions will save you time, plus we now have a dedicated customer service team on call to answer your queries and give advice on the products in our extensive range. We also believe in rewarding customers through our exclusive Chilli Rewards program. Backed by American Express, our industry-leading offer is the hottest way to send your Membership Rewards points soaring. Simply call 1300 242 838 today and become another CH2 Vet Care satisfied customer. For information visit:

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news + events Taronga celebrates first tree kangaroo joey in 20 years

A better deal for second-chance pets The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) South Australia Division has launched its 2014 state election policy platform, with recommendations for the new government on improving the welfare of companion animals and reducing the number of unwanted pets. “Companion dogs and cats play an enormously important role in the wellbeing of our community. They help individuals stay happier and healthier, and they help create friendly

The female joey was born in September last year, but keepers have only just begun seeing her tiny head peeking out from the pouch of first-time mother, Kwikila. Kwikila arrived from Belfast Zoo in January 2013 and her successful pairing with Taronga’s resident male, Parum, is a triumph not only for the zoo but also the global breeding program for this endangered species.

neighbourhoods when cared for by responsible owners,” said Dr Andrew Carter, president of the AVA’s South Australia division. “We are calling for a specific code of practice for the re-homing of companion animals to ensure animals are re-homed with owners that suit the specific type and temperament of the animal. The prospective owners should also have a clear understanding of the needs of the animal they are adopting.”

Countering the caregiver placebo effect

Is the medication working? You can’t ask the owner, because of the placebo effect.

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A new clinical trial design could help overcome pet owners’ unconscious observation bias and determine whether the drugs they test are effective. North Carolina State veterinary researchers found during a three-week medication trial, owners indicated their pets improved, which is due to the caregiver placebo effect. But during a washout phase, owners of the cats who had been receiving the medication in the first phase said their pets’ signs of pain were returning, while the owners of cats who had received placebo in the first phase did not notice any change. Researchers were able to circumvent the placebo effect and determine that the medication was effective.


100% 90%

MCD

80%

20%

A U R I Z O N

S U R O L A N

10%

95.8%

83.8%

MCD (Aurizon®) 69 Dogs

Surolan®7 57 Dogs

70% 60% 50% 40% 30%

0%

Response to treatment – otitis externa – dogs (cured or clearly improved) MCD (Aurizon®)

95.8%

69 dogs

Surolan®7

83.8%

57 dogs

Veterinary Dermatology 2005, 16, 299-307.


A DV E RTO R I A L

Cutting-edge technology The latest from REM SYSTEMS

VetScan i-STAT

VetScan VS2

VetScan HM5

REM Systems: cutting-edge technology to meet your point-ofcare patient testing needs for your veterinary practices VetScan VS2 The VetScan VS2 is a state-of-the-art chemistry, electrolyte, immunoassay and blood gas analyzer that delivers uncompromising accuracy from just two drops of whole blood, serum or plasma. The VetScan VS2 is amazingly simple and intuitive, featuring an advanced user interface, expanded printing capabilities and precision reference laboratory quality results in 12 minutes VetScan HM5 The VetScan HM5 is a fully-automated, five-part differential hematology analyzer displaying a comprehensive 22-parameter complete blood count (CBC) with cellular histograms on an easy-to-read touch-screen. Its superior performance,

elegant design, ease of use, true database management capability, and minimal maintenance make it the optimal hematology system for veterinary clinics. VetScan VSpro The VetScan VSpro is a state-of-the-art specialty analyzer that offers a growing test menu useful to veterinarians of any specialty. The PT/aPTT and fibrinogen tests currently offered on the VetScan VSpro deliver uncompromising accuracy from a small sample size with an amazingly simple and intuitive user interface, making it ideal for veterinary practices VetScan i-STAT The VetScan i-STAT 1 delivers accurate blood gas, electrolyte, chemistry and

VetScan VSpro

hematology results in minutes from 2-3 drops of whole blood in a completely portable, handheld package—making it the ideal solution for critical care situations, hospital operating room monitoring, exotic animals and research needs at the point of care. Most importantly, the VetScan i-STAT 1 provides the additional information needed to monitor chronic disease patients, evaluate pre-anesthetic patients and provide diagnostic specialty testing information for the ill patient in the exam or treatment room. At REM SYSTEMS we understand the difference that well-informed advice can make to your patient outcomes. Whether you’re simply re-ordering consumables or looking for better ways to get your job done, we’re here to help. For further information contact 1800 737 222.

Abaxis, VetScan,and iQC, are trademarks or registered trademarks of Abaxis, Inc. 
 i-STAT is a registered trademark of the Abbott Group of Companies in various jurisdictions. © Abaxis 2014


What are you paying for your inhouse blood tests? Let’s compare the basics: Vetscan VS2 (published list price)

Similar Competitor Pathology consumable each price.

Comprehensive Rotor VS similar competitor product

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Call 1800 737 222 to find out how you can save money on running in-house pathology instruments.


PRODUCTS

NEW PRODUCTS GUIDE

All the latest and greatest new products for the vet world

Hill’s Pet Nutrition releases three new product ranges

Help save lives with Australia’s National Pet Disease WatchDog

In response to the dramatic rise in the percentage of cats older than five years since the early 1990s,¹ Hill’s has developed Science Diet™ Feline Age Defying. This new diet, which meets the nutritional requirements of cats from 11 years of age, was launched in Australia in August last year. An increasingly urbanised human population is changing the face of dog ownership in Australia, with small and toy breeds now making up 40 per cent of the canine populatio.² ³ Small and toy breed dogs usually live longer than medium and large breeds and often have very different life styles. Hill’s™ Science Diet™ Small & Toy Breed range has higher levels of antioxidants to protect these dogs against increased exposure to oxidative damage as a result of their longer lifespans. Hill’s™ Ideal Balance™ diets, for both dogs and cats, are grain free, meat first products with perfectly balanced natural ingredients. The Ideal Balance range was launched in Australia last October, and appeals to owners wanting the same natural diets for their pets that they want for themselves. Hill’s™ Ideal Balance™ provides perfectly balanced nutrition and is made of high quality wholesome natural ingredients. To enquire about stocking these new Hill’s products in your clinic, contact your Hill’s territory manager or the Hill’s Help Line on 1800 679 932. References: 1. US Pet Ownership and Demographics Source Book. 2. 2012 Edition. American Veterinary Medical Association, Schaumburg, Illinois. 3. Euromonitor Pet Care Market Data 2013. ACA Pet Owner Omnibus October 2012.

Are you worried about communicable disease in our pet cats and dogs? If not, perhaps you should be. In the last month alone, two diseases thought not to exist in Australia have reemerged—two outbreaks of canine distemper in regional NSW and a metropolitan outbreak of feline parvovirus in Melbourne. Thousands of cases of canine parvovirus, tick paralysis, cat flu, canine cough and other diseases occur every year in Australia leading to the deaths and discomfort of countless pets. Disease WatchDog (www.diseasewatchdog.org) is Australia’s national disease surveillance system for pets. The project is an initiative of Virbac Animal Health and has been running for nearly four-and-a-half years. Over this time, five research papers have been published establishing risk factors for diseases and significant further research is ongoing. The public can download a smart-phone-friendly app from the website and view maps of disease, information, and be referred to local vets. Disease outbreaks are monitored and the media notified to alert the public and raise awareness of disease —and the importance of proper prevention through vets. Vet clinics use the website in their puppy preschool classes, when talking to clients in consult, and can add maps into their clinic webpages and newsletters to raise awareness locally. All clinics who register receive a comprehensive support kit, and easy online instructions on how to participate in the program. Find out more about this project, register your disease cases quickly and easily once a month, and help stop the spread of pet diseases at www.diseasewatchdog.org.

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CR35 Vet. The only real ONE-FOR-ALL Scanner

Intraoral radiography

Intra Oral Equine radiology iM3’s CR35 digital radiology suite has been one of our best investments ever. This world class CR system delivers superior image quality with seamless integration between whole body and intraoral radiography. The software is cleverly designed, intuitive and easy to navigate. As always, the aftersale support is second to none!” Dr Gary Turnbull BVSc (Hons) CMAVA East Port Veterinary Hospital

p 02 9420 5766 e sales@im3vet.com Th e Ve te r i n a r y D e n t a l Co m p a ny

www.im3vet.com

Whole body radiography

CR35 Vet. The only real ONE-FOR-ALL scanner • Combining full body and intra oral dental radiography in one compact machine • Excellent quality, superior resolution images via Vet-Exam software • Can be networked across 10 PCs in the practice • Full DICOM compliance ensures easy export of data* • Largest range of plate sizes, from intra oral size 0 all the way up to 35 x 43 cm full body plates • Compact design • Precision German manufacture with full 2 year warranty • Ongoing iM3 technical support throughout life of the unit (*additional cost for full DICOM send)

What we want to get across is the fact that:

Including 2 full body image plates: size 24x30cm & Size 30x40cm Intraoral Dental: Size 2 (4 plates) & Size 4 (1 plate) Vet Exam Plus Vet specific software & 10 network licences.

“The CR35 is the only CR scanner to use the new Dual Focal technology providing previously unachievable levels of detail and image quality in both full body and dental x-ray”

2 year warranty, Made in Germany Instillation and unlimited technical support by iM3.

X9100 Package price $26,800 + GST

Dental X-Ray generators available – not included.

CR35 Vet Technical specifications

CR35 Vet. Pioneer in Equine Intra-oral Radiography

 Unique intra-oral image plates for equine available in 3 different sizes, designed in conjunction with Equine dental specialists.

 Thanks to software that’s designed to be used with mixed practice, the database can be synchronised when used with laptop outside of practice.

Dimensions (H x W x D)

40 x 37 x 47 cm

Weight

17.5 kg

Electrical

100-240V/50-60Hz, < 140 W

Laser spot

25um

Grey levels

16 bit (65.536)

Max. Plate size

35 cm wide, Length virtually unlimited

Laser class extern

I(EN 60825-1:1994-03 + A1:2002-07 + A2: 2001-03)

Software

D?RR MEDICAL Vet-Examplus

PC connection

Ethernet

Storage

SDHC, max 32 GB

Display

4,3” LCD - Touch


YOUR W B UOSRI N L DE S S

The fine line between pampered and spoilt Luxurious, expensive and customised items for dogs are all the rage right now and they indicate a new level of relationship with our pets. But at what point does it all become too much? By Chris Sheedy CONSIDER THIS TRUE STORY. A WOMAN with a love of high fashion spends thousands of dollars on the latest looks, not only for herself, but also for her dog. When she buys a new jacket, she commissions a jacket for her dog in the same material. As she and her dog walk down the road, resplendent in their new outfits, and bathe in the attention of passers-by, the dog suddenly turns and attempts to bite a child who comes too close. He has never behaved this way before and his newfound aggression is a serious issue. Are the fashion choices and the hostile behaviour connected? Nathan Williams, the dog behaviour specialist (www.dogbehaviourspecialist. com.au) who treated this specific case, says they were, but perhaps not in the way you might think. “She saw her dog as her best friend and if high fashion was good enough for

her, it was also good enough for him. And there is nothing wrong with that attitude,” Williams says. “But it becomes a problem when the dog begins to be given everything it demands. Suddenly the dog is put in charge of the relationship. It is now the boss. So the problem is not the gifts or the attention, but rather the attitude that the dog should be given everything it wants.” The business of luxury and customised dog products is booming, and so it should be. Our relationships with our dogs have changed over the past few decades, Williams explains, from dogs being considered animals that belong in the backyard and who are often allowed to wander the streets, to now being members of our families, sharing our lounges and often fed from our tables. The transition was driven by regulations and restrictions, particularly at the local council level, that meant dogs were

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no longer allowed to wander the streets. Rules were introduced around desexing, licensing, microchipping, leashes and fencing requirements that truly did restrict dogs, unless they were being walked, to the backyard. So the dogs began to be allowed inside houses. “They started to be treated less like dogs,” Williams says. “We now interact with them as if they’re part of our human family. We speak with them as if they can understand us. None of this is a problem until you actually begin to believe that they can understand you.” The new attitude towards dogs has allowed creative petrepreneurs to help owners celebrate their canine housemates with special gifts such as sunglasses, gourmet foods, birthday cakes and customised bowls, collars and placemats. Lisa Haynes, owner of Gourmet Dog Barkery (www.gourmetdogbarkery.com.au)


Our relationship with our pets nowadays can be a problem if the pet doesn’t know who’s boss.

in Belmont, near Newcastle in NSW, says she began baking gourmet cookies for her dog Samson when she couldn’t find any healthy choices in the shops. “Then friends began asking me to make some for their dogs and eventually I took some of my products to markets where they sold out,” Haynes says. “We went to bigger markets with more product, with the same result, and finally realised there is real demand for high quality, preservative-free treats for dogs.” Haynes now has a shopfront and an online retail outlet and wholesales to vets, dog groomers, pet boutiques and markets. “In the main, the customers are young couples with no kids or older couples whose kids have left home—empty nesters,” she says. “But actually we get all

sorts. People certainly treat their pets better than they used to. Some people think we’re a bit mad for what we do, baking healthy, gourmet treats for dogs and selling dog birthday cakes that start at $35, but dog lovers love it!” Doggles eyewear and Power Paws non-slip socks for dogs are just two of the lines of products sold by ModPet Australia (www.modpet.com.au), an importer, wholesaler and retailer of high-end puppy products. Owner Jill Doyle says such products are not just about fun and fashion but actually serve a useful purpose. “The non-slip socks protect dogs while they’re on slippery household floors such as timber or tiles, and this can be

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“It becomes a problem when the dog begins to be given everything it demands. Suddenly the dog is put in charge of the relationship. ” Nathan Williams

Dog behaviour specialist


YOUR WORLD

very good for dogs prone to suffering hip problems,” she says. “And if a dog has an operation or wound on their lower leg it’s also a very handy way to stop them licking around the area. “Dogs with allergy problems, or that travel in the backs of utes, or that simply spend a lot of time in the sun can all benefit from a pair of Doggles sunglasses. I have even sold them to farmers for their working dogs. People have asked me why dogs need sunglasses when they have survived all of history without them? Humans have too, but we now know they’re good for us!” And Katrina Thomson, owner of IDPET (idpet.com.au), creates personalised products for dogs. Owners can have their dog’s name printed on collars, placemats, bowls, frisbees, clothing, toys, leads or virtually anything else you can think of. “The products are practical and fun with personality,” Thomson says. “We can print the personalised information with contact details in case the dog ever goes missing and our all-season two-inone coats have the dog’s name printed

They should always be given what they need, but never what they want when they demand it.

in reflective material so they’re far more visible when being walked in the dark. “My customers really appreciate their animals and treat them as a proper member of their family. They’re true pet lovers and they’d never consider their dog as an animal that only belongs in the backyard. We also have an ongoing fundraising support program that gives 10 per cent of the purchase amount to animal associations and charities, if the purchaser chooses that option.”

No. 1 Selling Dental X-Ray System in Australia

– CR 7 VET –

The CR-7 is simple to use and delivers excellent quality, high resolution images” Dr Ashley Young Better Pet Vets, Mackay QLD

p 02 9420 5766 Th e Ve te r i n a r y D e n t a l Co m p a ny

Such products are all a wonderful option for one’s dog, Williams says, as long as they are not coupled with a desire to grant the dog its every wish. “Buying an iPad for your son doesn’t mean he is spoilt,” he says. “But if you go out and buy an iPad for your son because he demanded one then you’ve got a problem. It’s the same with dogs. They should always have what they need, but should never be given what they want when they demand it.”

e sales@im3vet.com

www.im3vet.com


Would you? Enter the lotto for a 1 in 100 chance of winning? Travel in a plane with a 1 in 100 chance of crashing? Protect your clientsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; cats against a 1 in 1001 chance of infection with feline leukaemia virus?

Are your clients willing to take this chance in light of the outcomes?

References: 1. Malik et al, Prevalences of feline leukaemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus infections in cats in Sydney. Aust Vet J 1997, 75 (5): 323-327 Australia: Boehringer Ingelheim Pty Limited ABN 52 000 452 308. Animal Health Division, 78 Waterloo Road, North Ryde NSW 2113. Toll free: 1800 038 037.

Bi758TA-03/14


YOUR BUSINESS

You’re hired! It costs up to two years’ salary to replace an employee once you factor in the time it takes to recruit and train them. So, what can you do to make sure you hire the right people the first time around? By Amanda Scotland

“You want to make sure the employer has a very accurate idea about your level of experience so they have no false expectations.” Dr Mark Eagleton Vetlink Employment Service

DR MARK EAGLETON, OWNER OF VETLINK Employment Service (www.vetlink.com. au), spends a lot of time matching the right vet staff to the right jobs, and he says that, while most practice managers seem to do a pretty good job at recruiting, there are some simple things many could be doing to improve the experience. At the core of this is effective time management. Eagleton says employers need to allocate sufficient time to an interview for the process to be effective. “There are two sides; some people rush and skip through the process and end up making a bad decision, and some people will go too slowly through the process and lose candidates along the way,” he says. “You need to be methodical but efficient.” Preparation, too, is key and Eagleton advises all employers to spend time thinking about the types of questions they should be asking during the interview. Your questions should, of course, centre on the relevant skills and experience of the role. However, even if an applicant looks good on paper, it is equally

16

important to understand whether the individual’s values are aligned with the culture of the practice. This involves spending additional time thinking about your current culture. The maxim certainly holds true that “the best predictor of future performance is past performance”, so it is essential that you also allocate sufficient time to proper background and reference checks. Eagleton says that all of these steps will be aided by the preparation of a formal, methodical recruitment process. Expectation management Many typical employment problems can be avoided by setting clear expectations. “A lot of employees are willing to please but they’ll be prevented from doing so if they don’t know what’s expected of them,” says Eagleton. One way to achieve greater clarity is to create a concise job description outlining all requirements of the role. This may mean writing something from scratch, or revising a much longer job descrip-


It’s important to be methodical but efficient when interviewing potential employees.

CASE STUDY Denise Sheekey, a vet science student, talks about her experience looking for work in the vet industry. When I started studying vet science, I wanted to build up my experience at the same time. I started by searching for vet nursing jobs online but, because I didn’t have any experience yet, there really wasn’t anything that was suitable for me. So, I started emailing practices direct and physically going in to introduce myself. My first job was secured through a combination of luck and timing. I emailed someone in HR and it turned out someone else was leaving. I think they were impressed that I had taken the initiative. At about the same time I got work at a second practice

through a family friend. Neither job was advertised. They are very different (a general practice and a specialist/emergency centre) so I learnt a lot very quickly. They’re also both really flexible, which is very important when you’re a student. While I probably would have been happy to take the first job I found, I’ve been really lucky that both employers are really supportive. They’re willing to let me get involved with their cases and answer all my silly questions. It’s given me that extra level of confidence with basic clinical and animal handling

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skills so I can focus on the medicine/ veterinary side of my studies. Going forward, when I start interviewing for my first vet jobs, I think I’ll really be looking to get a sense of what the workplace is like from meeting the other staff. I’d also want to know basic things like working hours, remuneration, and whether they had high staff turnover. One thing that’s really important to me is whether they have a focus on continuing education. I really want to keep expanding my knowledge throughout my career. It’s going to be a steep learning curve so I’ll definitely be looking for that mentor figure. At the end of the day, I’d rather volunteer at a really good practice than get paid to work at a bad one.


YOUR BUSINESS

Africa 2014

The “Classic Kenya Safari” escorted by Dr Andrew Tribe, Senior Lecturer in Wildlife at Queensland University.

This tour combines: Kenya’s most scenic areas with accommodation in Africa’s finest Lodges and Tented Camps, all located in prime game viewing areas, including Tsavo, Lake Nakuru, Lewa Downs, Mt. Kenya, finishing in the Masai Mara to see the great wildebeest migration. The trip can be tax deductable for veterinarians. The total trip is 19 days – Departs: Friday 19th September 2014. Cost: $15,740 per person all inclusive. Dr Andrew Tribe work: (07) 5460 1261 mobile: 0400240135 email: a.tribe@uq.edu.au

AndrewTribe.indd 1

9/04/2014 10:31 am

Make your career dream a reality Veterinarians:

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for a confidential chat or to organise a meeting.

The art of induction The letter of offer and employment contract should be prepared in advance so there is no delay between commencing work and officially signing on. This protects both you and your new employee and provides a sense of security that will translate into a positive working relationship. “Most people make up their mind if they’re going to stay or go within the first four weeks,” says Eagleton. Indeed, the way a new employee is treated within the first four weeks will make a lasting impression even if they do decide to stick around, so it is vital you follow your recruitment process with a well-organised induction.

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tion down to a more manageable document of two pages at most. Eagleton adds that it is essential you run through the job description with the candidate to make sure they understand. Importantly, what you discuss at interviews should be a genuine reflection of what the job will be like in real life. Similarly, it is imporVetlink’s Dr Mark Eagleton tant for job seekers to set expectations with their potential employers. “You want to make sure the employer has a very accurate idea about your level of experience so they have no false expectations of your ability,” says Eagleton. “Be yourself, don’t try to be anything you’re not—it can cause real unhappiness down the track.”

TIPS FOR JOB-SEEKERS Dr Mark Eagleton, owner of Vetlink Employment Service (www.vetlink.com.au), offers some tips to vet industry jobseekers on how to stand out from the pack:  Spend time putting together a quality CV with a clear and accurate work history and suitable references.  Include a well thought-out covering letter specific to the role.  Present yourself well for the interview and arrive on time.  Think about some sensible questions you might like to ask.  Do some research on the practice even if that means just browsing their website before the interview.  Demonstrate good communication skills. This may include listening closely during the interview, or ringing the receptionist in advance if you’re running a few minutes late.  Make yourself available by ensuring your phone is on and within reach during times the employer is likely to call you back.

www.greencrossvet.com.au

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RAD --X DR 60G/C Portable R

- Softcase - Hardcase

+ eFilm

Canon and Merge efilm are the combination that made the Eklin name famous. We took our years of experience with Eklin, became distributors for Canon and Merge efilm, engaged much of the original Eklin design and support team to bring you this range. We are locally supported by both Canon and Merge. We continue to bring you THE GOLD STANDARD.

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RAD --X CX1

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R

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wireless

wireless

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PORTA 100HF

From

Ibex Pro Tough and robust. Built to take what vets hand out. Choice of probes.

20mA 100kv Full 2.0kW output. Can do a CC stifle on a G panel. Fast and reliable. DR ready -- internal sync.

L6.2

L8.0

RADINCON X-RAY

30

R

YEARS 1979 - 2009

Est 1979

Phone:: 1300 Phone 1300 721 721 734 734 Fax: Fax:1300 1300721 721735 735 sales@radincon.com.au - www.radincon.com.au

QUALITY PRODUCT

-

RELIABLE SERVICE

-

t 79

YEARS

SUMMER 2011

HONEST ADVICE


IS YOUR WEBSITE AND ONLINE PRESENCE ATTRACTING NEW CLIENTS TO YOUR VETERINARY PRACTICE?

vet IT HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER FOR YOUR VET PRACTICE TO LOOK GOOD AND GET RESULTS ONLINE CONTACT US AND FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE.

(02) 9410 1507 Vetsites is the specialist in online marketing and website solutions for veterinary professionals.

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We provide a number of services to suit your needs: - Logo design

- Video

- Website design

- Google Adwords

- Mobile website design

- Photography

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YOUR BUSINESS – PET INSURANCE

Peace of mind Pet insurance is finally on the upsurge in Australia and veterinarians are one of the driving forces behind this recent uptake. By Kerryn Ramsey PET INSURANCE IS A WIN-WIN SITUATION for both clients and veterinarians. Clients who are covered can focus on their loved one’s recovery rather than sweating about the hefty bill, while vets can utilise up-to-the-minute care without cutting costs. Insured pet owners always pay their bills on time—a positive outcome for practice managers when balancing the books. There’s also a bonus for the staff—some insurers offer policy discounts to vets and nurses. Despite this country’s passion for pets, many owners are reluctant to pay the premiums in order to keep their loved ones happy and healthy. According to last year’s Australian Bureau of Statistics data, only five per cent of Australian animal lovers have their pets insured. In the US and Britain, however, 20 to 40 per cent of pet owners purchase insurance. “The experience in overseas markets is that veterinarians and practice staff are a key driver in the uptake of pet insurance, but vets here are sometimes reluctant to promote it,” says Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) CEO Graham Catt. “Many keep information about pet insurance in their practices but the feedback we get is that only a minority actively recommend pet insurance to their clients.” Ninety years ago, the first pet insurance was purchased for a much-loved dog in Sweden, followed by a dog policy in Britain in ’47. TV’s Lassie became a cover-pup back in 1982 when she was the first pet insured in the USA. In Australia, there are 22 different companies offering pet insurance and they’re all seeing an increase in business. Catt notes that the uptake “is growing rapidly and the pet insurance underwriters say call 9456 4345

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The growth of the pet insurance market in Australia will be good for both veterinarians and pets alike. it’s definitely the fastest growing type of insurance in Australia. “Along with changing attitudes to the role of pets in our lives, another factor is the great advancements in veterinary science and treatments available to clients over the past 20 years. Of course, more advanced treatments cost more to deliver and that’s where pet insurance can play a really valuable role in giving owners choice.” There are simple ways to encourage clients to take the plunge. Take time to explain all the features and benefits

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“Pet insurance can appear complicated but it’s pretty simple.” Graham Catt

CEO, Australian Veterinary Association


YOUR BUSINESS – PET INSURANCE

Pet insurance guide Peace of mind (continued) but remember, you’re a surgeon not a salesperson so point out that you receive no commission from the policy. “It’s a good idea for pet owners to compare policies on the market, as there may be some limitations, exclusions or even excesses payable,” says Choosi chief operating officer David Parson. It’s cheaper to sign up for an accidentonly cover rather than an accident and illness cover, but according to a 2011 census by PetPlan UK and Australia, one in three pets will require unplanned veterinary care in any given year, so the higher policy can save money in the long run. The census also showed that insured clients are 40 to 80 per cent likely to make a claim on their pet insurance. A policy can cover regular check-ups, immunisation, dental care, spay/neuter surgery, and tests. If a pet develops a chronic disease such as diabetes or cancer, it’s worth knowing if the policy will offer reimbursements for pharmaceuticals. It’s also important to tell clients that policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions, such as the very common hip dysplasia and eye diseases. Some policies exclude coverage of breed-associated conditions, so a panting pug or a dachshund with a degenerating intervertebral disc will push the credit card into the red. Simplify things by having just a few insurance companies on your books, and encourage clients to take home all the brochures, read the fine print and figure out the most suitable policy. “Pet insurance can appear complicated but it’s pretty simple,” says Catt. “Insurance is all about mitigating future risk, and in the case of pet insurance we are insuring against the risk that we won’t be able to afford a treatment that can save a life or greatly improve health when that treatment is needed.” While pet insurance brings peace of mind to a client, it also improves the practice’s business. Pet owners can afford to pay for extensive—and expensive—surgery, allowing pets to live longer with better care. And that makes the practice’s bottom line healthier.

BRAND

INSURER

COVER OPTIONS

MINIMUM PET AGES

MAXIMUM PET AGES

Guide Dogs

Allianz Australia Insurance.

Accident & illness (Essential, Covered4Life Classic or Covered4Life Ultimate plan).

8 weeks.

Essential: Minimum 8 weeks— no upper age limit. Minimum Covered4Life Classic & Ultimat weeks—maximum for first tim cover 8 yrs (5 yrs for select bree

ProSure—Vet’s Own Insurance

Hollard Insurance Company, with PetSure as underwriting agent.

Accident only; accidental & illness; Accidental & illness & Wellness.

8 weeks.

Up to 9 years for accident & illness; no max age on accident only.

Pet Insurance Australia

Hollard Insurance Company, with PetSure as underwriting agent.

Accident only; accident & illness; major medical; routine care.

8 weeks.

Up to 9 years for accident & illness; no upper age limit for accident only.

Guardian

Hollard Insurance Company, with PetSure as underwriting agent.

Accident only; accident & illness.

8 weeks.

Up to 9 years for accident & illness; no max age on accident only.

Bow Wow Meow

Hollard Insurance Company, with PetSure as underwriting agent.

Accident only; comprehensive; major medical.

8 weeks.

Up to 9 years, no upper age limit for accident only.

HCF

Hollard Insurance Company, with PetSure as underwriting agent.

Accident only; accident & illness.

8 weeks.

Up to 9 years for accident & illness; no upper age limit for accident only.

Pets Secure

Hollard Insurance Company, with PetSure as underwriting agent.

Accident only; accident & illness; optional wellness care.

8 weeks.

Up to 9 years for accident & illness; no upper age limit for accident only.

RSPCA Pet Insurance

Hollard Insurance Company, with PetSure as underwriting agent.

Accident only; accident & illness (ultimate or economy).

8 weeks.

Up to 9 years for accident & illness (economy & ultimate); no upper age limit for accident only.

Petplan

Allianz Australia Insurance.

Accident & illness (Essential, Covered4Life Classic or Covered4Life Ultimate plan).

8 weeks.

Minimum 8 weeks—no upper age limit (Essential). Minimum weeks—maximum for first tim on cover 8 yrs (5 yrs for select breeds), (Covered4Life Classic Covered4Life Ultimate).

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YOUR BUSINESS

BENEFIT LIMITS

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PAYMENT OF VET BILLS

EXCESS PAYABLE

TICK PARALYSIS BENEFIT

BENEFIT FOR VETS

TELEPHONE

WEBSITE

Essential: up to $7000 per policy year. Covered4Life Classic: Dogs benefit choice of $10,000 or $15,000; Cats benefit choice of $9000 or $10,000 per policy year. Covered4Life Ultimate: Dogs $20,000 per policy year; Cats $15,000 per policy year.

100%.

Dog & cats $150 (Essential). Dogs $125, cats $110 for Covered4Life plans.

Any amount paid under this benefit are part of the Policy Agregate of Veterinary Fees.

10% off for vet staff, 20% off with Vet Employee Benefit Scheme, rewards for policies received, continuous Petplan BDM training on site, advertising support.

1300 131 636

www.guidedogspetinsurance.com

Up to $14,500.

80%.

Nil.

Up to $1000.

Designed and supported by vets who care for pets.

1800 424 917 

www.prosure.com.au

Up to $15,000.

Up to 80%.

$0, $100 or $200.

Up to $1200.

Offers an incremental 5% discount for each additional pet insured after the first one up to a maximum discount of 15%.

1800 043 552

www.petinsuranceaustralia.com.au

Up to $12,000.

Up to 80%

Nil.

Up to $1200.

Covers the pet for emergency boarding when hospitalised.

1300 709 560

www.guardianinsurance.com.au/ Pet-Insurance.aspx

$8000 for accident only; up to $12,000 for comprehensive  or major medical.

Up to 80%.

$0 to $500.

Up to $1000.

Have received a high level of support from the veterinary community, who appreciate that it’s pet people, rather than a big faceless insurance company.

1800 668 502

www.bowwowinsurance.com.au/

Up to $12,000.

Up to 80%.

Nil, $50,100 or $200.

Up to $1200.

Emergency boarding fees of $500.

13 13 34

www.hcf.com.au/other-products/ pet-insurance/

Up to $12,000 for accident & illness; $8000 for accident only.

Either 75% or 85%

Nil.

Up to $500.

Dedicated call centre; apply over the phone or online.

1300 855 160

www.petsecure.com.au

Up to 80% (accident only and ultimate); up to 75% for accident & illness (economy).

Up to 80%.

Nil.

Benefit percentage payable on the cover taken out.

Dedicated call centre, a  per cent of premiums goes to the RSPCA to help them continue their good work.

1300 881 492 

www.rspcapetinsurance.org.au

Essential: up to $7000 per policy year. Covered4Life Classic: Dogs benefit choice of $10,000 or $15,000; Cats benefit choice of $9000 or $10,000 per policy year. Covered4Life Ultimate: Dogs $20,000 per policy year; Cats $15,000 per policy year.

100%.

Dog & cats $150 (Essential). Dogs $125, cats $110 for Covered4Life plans.

Any amount paid under this benefit are part of the Policy Agregate of Veterinary Fees.

10% off for vet staff, 20% off with Vet Employee Benefit Scheme, rewards for policies received, continuous Petplan BDM training on site, advertising support.

1300 738 225

www.petplan.com.au

23


For 10 years, Vets Beyond Borders has provided lifesaving and pain-relieving care for thousands of animals across India and the Asia-Pacific region. Samantha Trenoweth talks to the inspirational volunteers who make it happen.

HELEN BYRNES IS NOT A WOMAN WHO likes to remain idle for long. When she first heard about Vets Beyond Borders, she was working in her two Brisbane vet practices and helping her youngest daughter through the last gruelling years of high school, but already she was wondering what fresh challenge to take on next. Dr Byrnes heard that Vets Beyond Borders was looking for volunteers to work in the north-east Indian state of Sikkim. “I didn’t know where Sikkim was,” she smiles, “but it looked exciting.” That was in 2006 and Dr Byrnes has been travelling backwards and forwards between Australia and India ever since. In recent years, she has been the program manager for Vets Beyond Borders’ Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health program (SARAH), and has become a seasoned traveller. But back in 2006, on her very first trip to India, the sights and sounds and smells of the sub-continent were overwhelming. “We landed at the old airport in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) at midnight,” Dr Byrnes

24

recalls. “On our cab ride to the hotel, we saw naked sadhus wandering the dark streets as we wound through the slums. It was astonishing. Then, on the day we were scheduled to leave Kolkata for Sikkim, the government called a strike. The streets were jammed with demonstrators and a travel warning was issued. We were concerned about getting to the airport because there were no buses or taxis operating, but the concierge at the hotel said, ‘If need be, we’ll call an ambulance and you can crouch down low.’ In the end, the hotel’s driver took a long and winding route and avoided the upheavals. I made it to national TV because I was one of the few blonde people at the airport that day.” Volunteers en route to Sikkim don’t usually encounter such high adventure. From Kolkata or New Delhi, they can travel by train or fly into Bagdogra, in West Bengal. From there, the road winds, through tea plantations and forests, beside the cloudy peaks, valleys and gorges of the Himalayan foothills, to Gangtok, the district capital. It’s a four-and-a-half hour journey

Photography: Main photo by Richard Whitfield

C O V E R S T O RY


Clockwise from above: Dr Helen Byrnes has been back and forth between here and India since 2006; volunteer vet Dr Michael Heath of the East Bentleigh Vet Clinic; a Sikkim patient.

by car and Dr Byrnes never tires of it. When she arrived in Sikkim, in 2006, the town was full of street dogs. “They were scabby and mangy and skinny,” she recalls, “and rabies was still active there. On the other hand, the area where we worked had a strong Buddhist and Nepalese Hindu sensibility, so there was an immense desire to do something to help these animals, as well as a great need.” Vets Beyond Borders’ primary roles in Sikkim, then as now, were to perform desexings and vaccinations, to provide clinical care to injured animals and to educate people about animal care and welfare. “Most of my time was spent in surgery,” Dr Byrnes recalls, “lined up with a team

of vets and nurses, all wearing our headtorches because the power kept going out. We performed one surgery after another all day. There were some local vets working with us but they were still relatively inexperienced in clinical work. So we provided the extra experience and training too. Like the Aussie vets, they were keen to learn. My husband, who had come along for the adventure, helped out too, doing a bit of nursing, painting, lifting and carrying—whatever was required.” It was a life-changing experience. In the years that followed, Dr Byrnes volunteered in two more Vets Beyond Borders’ projects. The first was in Ladakh, on the Tibetan plateau. The second was in

25

“The area where we worked had Buddhist and Nepalese Hindu sensibility, so there was an immense desire to help these animals.” Helen Byrnes

Vets Beyond Borders


C O V E R S T O RY

This page, clockwise from top: Dr Byrnes with volunteer vets at Ladakh, on the Tibetan plateau; patients from the Tibetan plateau; providing care to a street dog in India.

“The benefits of the program are far reaching and they’re not limited to the dogs alone.” Steven Heath

CEO, Vets Beyond Borders

Bylakuppe in India’s south-west. By then, she was hooked. After her return from Bylakuppe, Dr Byrnes took on the role of program manager with SARAH. It meant that, for two to three months of every year, she was on the ground in India. This was made possible, she says, by her “fantastic staff” who ran her Brisbane practices like clockwork during her absences. Dr Byrnes came on board just as SARAH was being officially absorbed into the Government of Sikkim’s Animal Health Department. Since then, the project has become a masterful collaboration between Vets

26

Beyond Borders (which supplies program management and volunteers), the local government (which provides facilities, local vets, vet assistants and dog catchers) and Fondation Brigitte Bardot (which provides much of the project’s funding). It is considered a blueprint for similar programs that the Indian Government is rolling out across the subcontinent under the leadership of Dr (Major General retd.) Kharb of the Animal Welfare Board and Smt Maneka Gandhi (Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law). “The benefits of the program,” says Vets Beyond Borders CEO Steven Heath “are far reaching and they’re not limited to the dogs alone. Human and animal welfare are improved by effective rabies prevention. And the reduction in the incidence of other zoonotic diseases, such as scabies, hookworm and echinococcosis, also contributes to public health.” In Sikkim, the program has successfully created a healthy, stable, vaccinated, street dog population. Dog numbers have reduced to manageable levels, there have been no human rabies deaths in the state since 2006 and no animal deaths from rabies since 2010. The community attitude to the street dogs has improved and the local people are relieved that all this has been achieved without the need for violent and distressing culls. For both Heath and Dr Byrnes, the most rewarding aspects of the work have been seeing the changes in local communities and interacting with the people—volunteers and locals alike. “Getting involved with Vets Beyond Borders is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” Heath says. “I’m doing rewarding work, I’m meeting the most welcoming people—both Indians and Tibetans—and I’m working with teams of incredibly dedicated, generous volunteers from around the world. We’re based in Australia but people volunteer for our projects from America, France, Spain, India—all over.”


COV E R S TO RY

Clockwise from top: Rounding up street dogs in Sikkim, where they are now healthy, stable and vaccinated; recovering in Tibet; and grateful owners with a patient in Tibet.

Dr Byrnes agrees. “I love the interaction with the people. I also enjoy the challenge of switching to India time and to that Indian way of thinking—letting go of some of the linear goals that you’re used to from a Western point of view.” This year, however, Dr Byrnes has some linear goals to achieve. She’s returning to university, she says, “to do some postgrad’ work that will focus on my project management skills. I want to be more involved with measuring how effective we are and how we can have more meaningful results, and to help more with program development.” There will be ample opportunity for program development in coming years, as Vets Beyond Borders expands its operation into the Pacific. Its first Pacific project, in Vanuatu, will be open for business later this year. “There’s no rabies in Vanuatu,” Heath explains, “so it will be an animal health

and de-sexing program. Once the Vanuatu project is up and running, we’re looking at other Pacific island nations too because there’s a shortage of veterinarians in the area and it’s convenient for Australian vets to volunteer there for shorter stays.” Vets Beyond Borders aims (rather like Mary Poppins) to create community projects in which it eventually becomes redundant. “We want to do projects that are sustainable in the long term,” says Dr Byrnes. “So we’ll work with a local group, provide training and support and then, at some stage, there’ll be an exit strategy for Vets Beyond Borders. There will still be a link and members will still visit but, in the end, we want it to stand on its own two feet. So we try to work with a local partner who can take the program on and run it in the future. There’s a big emphasis on skill transfer and vet training.”

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This year marks Vets Beyond Borders’ 10th anniversary. From a group of 10 idealistic vets with a concern for the health and welfare of street animals in India, it has grown to become a highly respected NGO, working in developing countries across the Asia-Pacific region. Since 2004, Vets Beyond Borders teams have vaccinated more than 65,000 animals against rabies, sterilised over 30,000 street dogs and trained hundreds of local veterinary staff to increase their surgical skills and animal welfare knowledge. They have worked with local governments to introduce humane alternatives to the mass culling of stray animals and they have provided lifesaving and pain-relieving care for thousands of animals who had never before visited a veterinarian. To mark the 10th anniversary, there will be a variety of fundraising events. The most exciting is a trek through Ladakh for adventure-loving vets. The trek will run from late August into September and will take in the excitement of Old and New Delhi, a fourday hike through the towering Himalayas and a stint volunteering on a Vets Beyond Borders project. “Veterinary professionals can volunteer for any of our programs at any time,” says Heath, “and there are always roles for non-vets too—in community education and helping out in our Australian office. “Volunteering is a great way to experience another country and culture and to combine vet work with travel. This trek will be a special opportunity but our volunteers often combine their work on a project with trekking, rafting, exploring monasteries and temples, local art and music and cuisine. I don’t think Helen and I are unique. For many, it’s a life-changing experience.” More information about Vets Beyond Borders, the trek and current volunteering opportunities can be found online at  www.vetsbeyondborders.org.


YOUR BUSINESS

love Too much

MOST VETS GET INTO THE PROFESSION because they have a love of animals and want to help them. But the job description involves not only destroying countless animals each year, but also witnessing and addressing the abuse and neglect of pets and livestock and the trauma of injured wildlife. Vets are also frequently privy to the distress of their patients and the grief and anger of their owners. It’s a particular kind of stress and anxiety that not many other professions face with such grinding regularity, and it is called compassion fatigue. Also known as the ‘cost of caring’, compassion fatigue is a recognised psychological condition that can affect anyone in work that regularly exposes them to the suffering of others. It presents an emotional and physical exhaustion, leading to hyper-vigilance, irritability or poor concentration in the

The cost of caring can lead to significant health and psychological conditions, particularly for those new to the profession. Sue Nelson uncovers how to manage the pressures of the job

workplace, and social isolation, insomnia and impaired immunity at home. Unfortunately, it is exacerbated by the profession’s very calling—that is, the need to help others. “Compassion fatigue can be triggered by an individual event, such as exposure to a cruelty case, or by chronic exposure to stressors in the animal shelter or veterinary practice,” says RSPCA ACT acting CEO Jane Gregor. “It can also be termed ‘vicarious trauma’, as we often see, feel or hear the story of the trauma patient, its owner or a colleague.” Other factors, such as long working hours, isolation and a tendency for vets to be high achieving and competitive individuals, contribute to the affliction. Andrea Montesano, a partner at the Reservoir Vet Clinic in Melbourne, says it isn’t uncommon to continue working for an

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hour or so following a nine-hour shift. Rebbecca Fisher, a vet who left private practice to work at a university with family-friendly hours, cites poor pay, long shifts, weekend work and the “endless emergencies” as some of the reasons she left—all of which compounded her compassion fatigue. Fisher says she knows of several colleagues who committed suicide because of the pressures of the job. A recent study entitled “Workplace stress, mental health, and burn-out of veterinarians in Australia” examined the frequency of depression, anxiety, stress and burnout in vets, and compared this to the incidence of these problems in the general population. It found there were strong links between a career in veterinary medicine and poor mental health, particularly in younger women, who were most at risk. Burn-out comes


You got into this profession because you love animals, but that compassion can also cost you.

quickly too—as little as five years after graduation. The report concluded that educators and employers need to be wary of these trends and to provide new ways to support graduates to ensure they can enjoy long, healthy careers. “When I was at university there was not much support or lessons regarding grief, handling conflict and managing the client-vet-patient bond,” says Montesano. Fisher agrees, though she concedes it has probably improved for newer graduates. “There was only one lecture on grief counselling in my entire degree.” Fisher says some of the hardest times were early in her career, before she became inured to the emotionally intense work. “When I tried my heart out and still lost the battle, when it was someone’s only or best friend, when I put down an elderly lady’s guide dog… When I euthanised

Jair, a dog with prostate cancer in my first year. He couldn’t walk and I was crying so hard I couldn’t see the vein properly. Sometimes people just couldn’t afford the treatment and they were so ashamed about that…” “It’s hard for me to say what is the hardest or worst thing I’ve seen,” Montesano says. “I have seen dogs with injuries such as a broken jaw which would appear to be inflicted by the owner, a cat that was thrown into a wall by an owner with a mental illness. Some of the saddest things are just assisting and guiding families and people through the loss of a much-loved elderly family pet. Children affected by grief are always very upsetting.

“He couldn’t walk and I was crying so hard I couldn’t see the vein properly. Sometimes people couldn’t afford the treatment and they were so ashamed about it.”

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Rebbecca Fisher


YOUR BUSINESS

“As a younger graduate I would find it very emotionally challenging trying to assist pets whose owners were not bonded to them—the owners did not wish to spend any money on their pets that needed care.” Some vets have difficulty preventing their work from creeping into their personal lives. “Staying professional and removed was the hardest thing. I got very close to many people,” says Fisher, who found she was increasingly doing pro bono work to try to stem some of the suffering she witnessed. So how do vets continue to keep a clear head, strive for the best outcomes for their patients and maintain good mental health? “Compassion fatigue needs not be a professional death sentence,” says Jane Gregor. “It is possible to cope and it is possible to heal from chronic compassion fatigue before we experience complete burn-out. But some vets may need to go on stress leave to fix this problem.” According to the RSPCA, there are personal as well as professional strategies vets can adopt. “It’s important to look

“Work on communication skills—if you can get communication and conflict management right then you can reduce a lot of fatigue.”

after yourself physically, get enough sleep, eat well and exercise,” says Montesano. “Emotionally, make sure you have a good support system around you, including nonveterinary groups.” In practice, it’s important to support colleagues—debrief, but be careful not to share traumatic stories with unprepared or inexperienced colleagues (this is also known as ‘sliming’) who may take these experiences on board. Always provide a warning, and seek permission to share the information. Know your limitations: “As I have continued at the practice, I have come to realise that I cannot always provide the best treatment all the time due to restraints that owners put upon me. I see my role as informing my clients what is the best treatment for their pets and acting as the pet advocate to encourage owners to do what is required for the best interests of that patient,” says Montesano. “I work in a very supportive veterinary environment and I get lots of support

Andrea Montesano

from my peers. Working alongside experienced vets in a caring environment helps. It’s good to have passion for your work. I found having sessions with a psychologist helped me, as did extra learning about grief. “I think the best thing a young graduate can do is work on communication skills— if you can get communication and conflict management right then I think you can reduce a lot of compassion fatigue. Focus on what you do well and keep a file of thankyou notes to refer to when you feel you’re losing the battle,” she says.

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PRACTICE


YOUR TOOLS

TOOLS TRADE

Cruciate Ligament Kit by Dr Glen Kolenc, Pet Vets, Petersham, NSW

of the

This kit helps streamline the process of a variety of fiddly little steps in the surgical repair of the cruciate ligament. It has decreased my surgery time from an hour and 45 minutes to about 50 minutes. I have been delighted with this result. What’s good about it One part of the procedure is to drill a small hole through a piece of bone in order to pass through a nylon wire. In the past I used a hand chuck which can be physically taxing if you’re dealing with a 40kg dog. This kit comes with a small hand drill perfectly designed to create that hole. I’ve gone from 20 minutes of struggle, heat, sweat and occasional swear words to just easily drilling the hole in a minute or so. After the hole is drilled, muscles and fat that lie over the bone tend to plug it. This always made it difficult to pass through the nylon wire. This kit also contains a long thin metal probe with a tiny hole in one end to attach the nylon wire. It pushes easily through the muscles and the wire is threaded quickly and efficiently through the bone. It also contains a set of crimps for securing the nylon and maintaining tension. This is a much better technique than tying a knot that can potentially cause a reaction.

A brilliant blood pressure system for cats; the multi-use Apple iPad; a digital dental X-ray processing unit, and more are under review this month Vmed Vet-Dop2 blood pressure system by Moira van Dorsselaer, The Cat Clinic, Taroona, TAS This unit is recommended for measuring the blood pressure of cats—it’s a standard of care to take blood pressure of geriatric cats. A cuff is placed on the front leg, back leg or tail and it’s connected to a sphygmomanometer.

What’s not so good The only improvement would be if the kit came with a couple of different sized bone drills to suit different breeds of dogs. However, this is nit-picking—the drill is perfectly suited to the vast majority of dogs that need this operation.

What’s good about it It’s easy to use and cats are not too distressed by it. Instead of a stethoscope, the unit uses a small ultrasound monitor. It also comes with a set of headphones, so the cat doesn’t get distressed by loud monitor noises. That makes a big difference. Just like people, cats can have the ‘white-coat effect’, causing their blood pressure to rise. High-blood pressure is as serious for cats as it is for humans. If it isn’t well managed, we need to consider if medication is appropriate. It gets easier with cats that have their blood pressure taken regularly as the cat knows what to expect. It’s not cheap but it’s an excellent machine.

Where did you get it St Lucia Surgical Services, www.stluciasurgical.com.au.

What’s not so good It could have a set of better earphones. The earphones provided are fairly cheap, and better quality, noise-reduction earphones would block out all sound to the cat. Where did you get it Vet Quip, www.vetquip.com.au.

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YOUR TOOLS

IM3 CR7 digital X-ray processing unit continued from page 31

by Dr Kate Euler, Wilston Vet, Windsor, QLD Although there are veterinary dental specialists, general practice vets have always performed dental procedures. Whether it’s just a scale and polish or an extraction, a dental X-ray machine and processing unit helps make the job quicker and more efficient.

iPad by Dr Gordon Heslop, Glenhaven Veterinary Hospital, Glenhaven, NSW

What’s good about it Periodontitis and dental pathology can be diagnosed more simply. Rather than just visual cues and probing, I can now take X-rays of the teeth and jaw to see what is actually happening below the gum line. When extracting teeth, the ability to take dental radiographs post-extraction ensures the full tooth root has been removed. By taking an X-ray before attempting extraction, the shape of the root and any deformities are revealed. I also use this system to take X-rays of things other than teeth. It’s great for extremities like paws and for smaller animals. We mainly deal with dogs and cats but we also treat wildlife, reptiles, and the occasional mouse, rat and guinea pig. It’s very quick—the X-rays are processed and appear on a screen almost immediately. That image is then digitally stored on the patient’s file or a hard copy can be produced.

The four iPads we keep at the surgery are used every single day—principally for taking photographs and videos of patients. We have quite an extensive library, detailing all kinds of ailments and operations of different animals. What’s good about it It’s an excellent educational tool for clients. Not only can we show the positive results of an operation, we can also show the consequences of failing to act. We have a series of photographs of dogs with testicular tumours that make a very convincing argument about the de-sexing of dogs. The photographs of splenic tumours are absolutely fantastic. If you tell someone that their dog has a lump in its spleen, they really can’t visualise the problem. If I can show them a photograph of the spleen of a dog, they invariably say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realise it was so big’. Mind you, we have to use the images judiciously. Some people can’t look at a photograph without grossing out so we have a full range of shots—everything from the gory to the glory. I also have video of a labrador on my iPad, 10 days post operatively, after I had removed its second hip. It shows that this dog is happy, its tail is wagging and it’s walking on four legs. It gives peace of mind to clients whose dogs are facing the operation. Likewise, I have videos of dogs that have had amputations that show happy dogs getting by fine on three legs. It’s not a happy time for owners but it really helps them to understand what’s going on. What’s not so good I think it would be a bit arrogant of me to say I could improve an iPad. If Steve Jobs couldn’t do it any better, I don’t think I can either.

What’s not so good We’ve been using this unit for the past six months and I haven’t come across any glitches or anything that I find compromising. Learning to use new software takes a little skill so the vets and nurses at our practice took part in a course organised by the manufacturer. It was fantastic. It meant we weren’t just learning how to use the new machine and processor as we went—we all had a good grounding in the use of this machine and software.

Where did you get it Any Apple store.

Where did you get it Radiology Supplies, www.radiologysupplies.com.au.

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YOUR LIFE

Under covers Dr Steve Denley of Balance Veterinary Care in Brisbane plays guitar in a country covers band

Interview: Kerryn Ramsey.

“I’ve been in and out of bands since I was a student at university. My most ‘serious’ band at that time was a pop outfit called Patrick. We gigged pretty regularly and wrote all our own songs. However, you can’t keep playing pop music as you get older—it’s really a choice between country and blues. I’ve always liked simple raw country and so The Wayward Johnsons was born. My brother-in-law is the bass player and our drummer is a friend of someone I knew at uni. Together we make up the three core members of the Johnsons. “The whole thing is pretty casual. We mainly play at parties though we have recently instituted a policy that we have to get paid, even if it’s just a nominal amount. By the time you lug in, set up, play and pack up at the end of the night, it turns into quite a big production. “We’re happy to play crowd favourites like The Doors and the Beatles. We also like alternative stuff like Wilco, Billy Bragg and Gram Parsons. “I’m never too fussed if things don’t go right when we are playing live. Our drummer has high expectations; he thinks we should be perfect every time we play. But, of course, you can practise 1000 times and still stuff it up on the night. And as long as you enjoy yourself, who cares? As much as I like playing live, I tend to look at it as a chance to get together, have a few beers and play a few songs. It’s mainly a social thing for me.”

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The Investec Signature card: a premium card with a range of rewards and benefits. For instance, you can buy a car or equipment on your card, earn Qantas Points on all eligible spend* and then roll the purchase into a fixed term finance contract. What’s more, you can make your monthly repayments on selected Investec finance contracts using your credit card and earn even more Qantas Points. Complimentary travel insurance^, Priority Pass airport lounge access and concierge service are the icing on the cake. Visit investec.com.au/ava or call 1300 160 160 to speak to your local veterinary finance specialist.

Specialist Banking Equipment and fit-out finance | Goodwill funding | Credit cards | Home loans | Commercial and property finance | Car finance | SMSF lending and deposits | Transactional banking and overdrafts | Savings and deposits | Foreign exchange The issuer of these products is Investec Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 55 071 292 594, AFSL 234975, Australian Credit Licence 234975 (Investec Bank). All finance is subject to our credit assessment criteria. Terms and conditions, fees and charges may apply. We reserve the right to cease offering these products at any time without notice. *Qantas Points are earned in accordance with the Investec Qantas Rewards Program Terms and Conditions available at investec.com.au/cards. You must be a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program in order to earn and redeem points. Qantas Points and membership are subject to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program Terms and Conditions available at qantas.com/terms. You earn 1 Qantas Point for every $1 of eligible spend in Australia and 2 Qantas Points for every $1 of eligible international spend on the Investec Signature credit card. See definition of Eligible Spend in the Investec Qantas Rewards Program Terms and Conditions, available at investec.com.au/cards. Investec recommends that you seek independent tax advice in respect of the tax consequences (including fringe benefits tax, and goods and services tax and income tax) arising from the use of this product or from participating in the Qantas Frequent Flyer program or from using any of the rewards or other available program facilities. ^Investec card Insurances are underwritten by ACE Insurance Limited (ABN 23 001 642 020, AFSL No. 239687) (ACE) and are subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy of insurance between Investec (ABN 55 071 292 594, AFSL & ACL No. 234975) (Investec) and ACE relating to the Investec card. It is important for you to read the Terms and Conditions available at investec.com.au/cards and consider the appropriateness of that insurance in relation to your individual requirements. When you purchase your return travel tickets on your Investec card you, your spouse and dependent children, if travelling together, will automatically have access to travel insurance for trips of up to 90 days.


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Vet Practice April 2014