JUNE 2014 $6.95 GST INCL.
The best advice How to mentor vet graduates, see page 22
Digital doctors How Dr Nicholas Wonders and Dr Benjamin Willcocks are transforming vet care
7 top tips to ace Facebook Learn how to engage your customers, page 18
Grand dame of the veterinary world Meet the unstoppable Dr Pamela Tinslay Itâ€™s time to go.... Want to move on? Learn how succession planning can help you, starting on page 32
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IMPROVEMENT IN LAMENESS
VET ASSESSED IMPROVEMENT IN LAMENESS AT THE TROT (5 point scale)
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Of even greater benefit, 48% of dogs sustained an improvement of more than 2.5 (a >40% improvement from baseline) 10 weeks after the course of therapy.
% OF DOGS SUCCESSFUL
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% OF DOGS THAT “HALVED THEIR AVERAGE PAIN SCORE” AS ASSESSED BY OWNERS ZYDAX
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news + events
6. 2014 AVA Conference outcomes The latest news from the veterinary world
your world 14. Animal’s advocate Vet, animal behaviourist, TV presenter, radio host and author, Dr Pamela Tinslay’s six-decade career is still going strong
your business 18. 7 tips to improve your Facebook page Regular posts to your Facebook page not only promotes your practice’s professionalism—it also reveals your personality
22. A little help from my friends Young veterinary graduates are bright-eyed at the start of their careers—but while they are eager to make their mark, they’ll need mentoring to kick off the next stage of their working lives 32. Exit left Succession planning can make transition to retirement easier and much more profitable but it’s essential to get started early
cover story 26. The right online approach Most vets wince when a client mentions they went online to diagnose their pet. But two veterinarians are turning that on its head by approaching the issue from a different angle
your tools 12. New products The latest and greatest gear for your practice 39. Tools of the trade Exceptional microscopes, impressive image processing technology and more are under review this month
your life 42. It takes two to tango From the moment she set foot on the dance floor, Dr Kylie Clifford of the Adelaide Animal Hospital, SA, has had a love affair with Argentine tango
Editorial Director Rob Johnson
PRACTICE For all editorial or advertising enquiries: Phone (02) 9660 6995 Fax (02) 9518 5600 email@example.com
Editor Nicole Hogan
Sub-editor Kerryn Ramsey
Contributors Jiyan Dessens, Frank Leggett, Sue Nelson, Chris Sheedy
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 Simpler test for BVDV An alternative testing method for bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) was raised at the Australian Veterinarian Association (AVA) annual conference in Perth BVDV IS A LONG-STANDING, OFTEN FATAL VIRUS, THAT’S BEEN ERADICATED in some countries but is endemic in beef and dairy herds throughout Australia, with an estimated 70 per cent of farms actively infected. According to the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, herds infected with BVDV suffer production losses between 25 and 40 per cent, due to reduced reproductive performance, death and scouring. If BVDV is not eliminated, the Department reports production losses between five and 10 per cent commonly occur. BVDV is believed to be spread almost exclusively by carriers or Persistently Infected (PI) cattle. Often mistaken for a natural genetic weakness, large-scale testing for PI cattle has traditionally been time and cost
A different and simple test can be the first step in eradicating BVDV.
intensive with individual blood samples undertaken by a veterinarian. Esperance veterinarian Dr Enoch Bergman believes ear notching testing is a quicker, cheaper and more effective method for diagnosing PI cattle. After learning about ear notching testing during his veterinarian training in the US, Dr Bergmann says it’s much easier as the producers are able to provide the samples themselves. Producers can “take a snip, just like ear marking” and send the samples to a registered ear notch laboratory for testing. Presenting at the AVA conference, Dr Bergmann outlined the best practice for managing BVDV, which includes testing, removing PI animals, providing immunity to at risk females, maintaining biosecurity and monitoring reintroduction. “We have the right tools, it’s my dream to help producers become more profitable by managing this disease and in our intensive grazing situations, we can get this bugger and eradicate BVDV,” Dr Bergman said.
Vets want more antibiotic research Antibiotic resistance in humans is a growing concern and more research is needed into antimicrobial use in animals to determine the extent of its impact on people, veterinarians warn RETIRED PROFESSOR MARY BARTON SPOKE AT THE Australian Veterinary Association’s annual conference in Perth and said the contribution from livestock to multi-drug resistance in zoonotic organisms, such as salmonella, was well known. But in recent years, resistance to antibiotics in other organisms such as E. coli had emerged in parts of the world. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus in livestock overseas was also an issue. Professor Barton made the point that Australia was better off than other countries, but noted information in Australia was limited without a systematic surveillance program for antimicrobial resistance in animals. “The information available suggests that multi-drug resistance can be a problem in livestock and horses, and there is a risk that vets could have increased exposure to these pathogens,” she said. Not much was known about the transmission of antimicrobial resistant organisms by cats and dogs, but evidence suggested resistance is a problem among companion animals, as well as livestock and horses. “More needs to be done to understand antimicrobial use in all animals and to what extent this is contributing to antimicrobial resistance to humans,” she said. Pat Blackall, from the University of Queensland, said despite regulations around the world, there were still concerns about antibiotics in food-producing animals. “Public concern about this issue is likely to remain high, so it’s critical that both industry and veterinarians remain vigilant and proactive in contributing to the global fight against antimicrobial resistance,” said Dr Blackall.
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news + events Study finds pets bought online more likely to suffer bad health Puppies purchased from online websites are more likely to have health and behavioural problems in the future, researchers claim A UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE study has revealed online puppy advertisements often omit information about vaccination, health and microchip status. Senior lecturer Dr Susan Hazel, of the university’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, said there had been a “rapid increase” in online puppy sales in the past five years.
“Although there are many reputable dog breeders advertising online, there are risks involved with online sales of puppies and the public needs to be aware,” she said. “Poor breeding lines or an inappropriate early environment can lead to ongoing health and behavioural problems in adult dogs.”
In the worst case scenario, Dr Hazel said dogs could be sent to shelters where they may be euthanised. As part of the study, researchers surveyed puppy owners attending puppy or obedience classes about the source of their puppies and analysed popular online websites for dog sales
between December 2013 and February 2014. Of those surveyed, 29 per cent said they sourced their puppies online, 44 per cent of people found their puppy directly through a breeder, eight per cent found their puppy through a friend or family and five per cent from a pet shop. Dog and Cat Management Board chair Jan Connolly urged people to do their research before purchasing a puppy. “Dogs are a long-term commitment,” she said. “Then when you bring the dog home, it is very important to ensure they are trained, socialised and desexed to reduce the risk of attacks in the community.”
Nutrition behind whale strandings Poor nutrition has led to a rise in the number of stranded humpback whales on the West Australian coast, veterinary researchers say CARLY HOLYOAKE, FROM Murdoch University, at the Australian Veterinary Association’s annual conference in Perth last month said an unprecedented number of mostly young whales had become stranded on the coast since 2008. Between 1989 and 2007, the average number of humpback whales ashore was between two and three, she said. But in 2008, there were 13 strandings, followed by 46 in 2009 and 16 in 2010. In 2011, there were 17
Research suggests poor nutrition is behind the growth in strandings.
strandings involving 14 calves and three juveniles, representing a rise in the number of young whales dying than in previous years. Dr Holyoake said researchers from Murdoch University and WA’s Department of Parks and Wildlife tried to find out the reasons for the surge through post-mortem examination. They concluded the most likely cause of the humpback calf strandings was poor nutrition. “Post-mortem examination and analysis of the fat content of
blubber samples revealed most calves were in an extremely malnourished state,” Dr Holyoake said. “Most had very low blubber fat, which is required for energy, thermoregulation and for buoyancy. “One individual also had pneumonia which would have made it difficult to breathe and may have contributed to its death.” All strandings happened
between Exmouth and Stokes Inlet, east of Esperance, meaning they were born at least 1000km south of the regular breeding grounds in the Kimberley region. “Humpback whales feed almost exclusively on krill in the Antarctic and it’s unknown what effect an expanding krill fishery in conjunction with climate warming might be having on the abundance of krill,” Dr Holyoake said.
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news + events US vets reconstruct dog’s jaw by growing new bone
jawbone from a cancerous area, then screw a titanium plate into place on the remaining bone, on each side of the removed area. A sponge-like scaffolding material, soaked in a bone growth promoter known as bone morphogenetic protein, is then inserted into the space where the bone was removed. The growth-promoting protein stimulates remaining jawbone to grow new bone cells, eventually filling the entire defect and integrating with the native bone. On a radiograph, the formation of new bone can be detected by two weeks post-surgery. By four to six weeks, the majority of the defect is filled in with new bone. By eight to 10 weeks, the new bone is fully formed and integrated with the native bone, forming one continuous mandible. The procedures, to date, have all been successful.
SURGEONS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF California (UC) Davis School Of Veterinary Medicine can now regrow an almost complete lower jawbone. The procedure can be performed as long as there is enough healthy bone remaining on the rear of the lower jaw, on each side of the mouth, and has now been successfully performed on three dogs in the past year. During the reconstructive procedure, surgeons remove loose bone fragments from an injured area or a full section of the
Pesticides wipe out beehives MASSIVE BEE DEATHS, TOTALLING more than 80,000 hives, have been reported following almond pollination in California, with a further 400,000 hives affected. Reports suggest about 60 per cent of the 1.7 million hives placed among the almonds were affected by “beefriendly” pesticides. The news of pesticide damage hits hard for the Australian apiary industry which totals less than 450,000 hives across the country, with NSW totalling some 260,000 hives. Central West beekeeper and Crop Pollinators Association president Bryn Jones, together with his father Warren, have been fighting the same battle against pesticides. “There has been a significant loss of hives from the Warren, Gin Gin and Boggabri areas in what is believed to be spray drift,” Bryn said. Batch-mixing of chemicals, which is believed to have happened in California, is common practice in Australian agriculture
according to Warren Jones. “When the bees start dying, there is a big problem in the environment,” he said. Warren spent 34 years as an advisory officer to the NSW Department of Agriculture, specialising in bee diseases, crop pollination and pesticides and said new systemic pesticides were creating the “perfect storm”. “The combination of these chemicals can increase the toxicity of the chemicals within the plant by more than 1000 per cent.” The Jones family, who have been confronted with multiple chemical incidences losing up to 600 hives
each time, said it’s often insufficient or misleading labelling on chemicals that can be to blame but not solely. “Our gripe is not with the farmers using chemicals or the people selling the chemicals, it’s with the system that doesn’t give enough information and fails to take any accountability if something goes wrong. “Honey bees go hand-in-hand with crops from canola and lucerne to vegetables, fruits and nuts, and has even been shown to increase yield in cotton crops.” The Joneses hope a Senate inquiry into the industry will have more impact than the last and include a review into neonicotinoid use. Bryn said they were hoping to have chemical labels enforced. The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), responsible for chemical approvals and setting labelling requirements, released a report in February this year stating the authority would work to “strengthen the existing label statement regarding agricultural chemicals and their impact on bees”.
NEW PRODUCTS GUIDE
The latest and greatest stuff for vet practices
Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d™ For your canine and feline patients with arthritis, the right nutrition can make all the difference when it comes to disease management, improving mobility, and easing the pain. Hill’s Prescription Diet™ j/d™ interrupts the cycle of damage by helping to reduce cartilage degradation, joint inflammation and discomfort2. It also helps to preserve healthy joint cartilage3. Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d canine is clinically tested to help your canine walk and run better, play better and climb stairs more easily in as little as 21 days1-4. In addition to this, for those dogs that are having their arthritis managed medically, j/d canine is a great compliment to current medical treatments with some cases being able to reduce the dosage of NSAID by 25 per cent 4. Hill’s Prescription diet j/d feline is clinically proven to help cats with arthritis be more active in as little as 28 days5-7. Hill’s j/d tastes great and is available as both a dry and canned food. For more information, contact your Hill’s Territory Manager or the Hill’s Helpline on 1800 679 932. 1. Roush JK, Cross AR, Renberg WC, et al. Evaluation of the effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on weight bearing in dogs with osteoarthritis. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2010; 236: 67-73. 2. Roush JK, Dodd CE, Fritsch DA, et al. Multicenter veterinary practice assessment of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on osteoarthritis in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2010; 236: 59-66. 3. Caterson B, Little CB, Cramp J, et al, The modulation of canine articular cartilage degradation by omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids, Proceedings, North American Veterinary Conference, 2005. 4. Fritsch DA , Allen TA, Dodd CE et al. A multicenter study of the effect of a therapeutic food supplemented with fish oil omega 3-fatty acids on the Carprofen dosage in dogs with osteoarthritis. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2010;236: 535-539. 5. Frantz NZ, Hahn K ,MacLeay Jet al. Effect of a test food on whole blood gene expression in cats with appendicular degenerative joint disease. J Vet Intern Med 2010; 24: 771. 6. Fritsch D, AllenT, Sparkes A et al. Improvement of clinical signs of osteoarthritis in cats by dietary intervention. J Vet Intern Med 2010; 24: 771–772. 7. Sparkes A, Debraekeleer J, Fritsch D et al.An open-label, prospective study evaluating the response to feeding a veterinary therapeutic diet in cats with degenerative joint disease. J Vet Intern Med 2010; 24: 771. Hill’s, Prescription Diet and j/d are registered trademarks of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. Editorial prepared by H Burton, Hill’s Australia (2014).
Comfortis® (spinosad) now registered for cats! Since its Australian market launch in 2009, Comfortis® has sold over 11 million doses in the fight against fleas. The once monthly, chewable tablets offer fast-acting, month-long flea protection that can’t rub or wash off. Following approvals in many other markets around the world, the Comfortis registration in Australia has now been extended for use in cats! Over the coming months, you will begin to see some changes to the Comfortis range and while the 5 pack sizes will remain the same, the dosage for cats (50-100mg/kg) is slightly different than the dosage for dogs (30-60mg/kg). As a result, the 140mg, 270mg and 560mg pack sizes of Comfortis will now be colabelled for use in both cats and dogs.
Until the revised packaging becomes available, your existing dog-labelled stock of 140mg, 270mg and 560mg packs can be prescribed as per revised label guidelines to both cats and dogs. To obtain additional dog and cat Product Inserts, book a training session for your staff, or discuss your point-of-sale needs, please contact your local Elanco representative, or call our technical services team at 1800 995 709.
What our clients say about Vetscan from REM SYSTEMS Veterinary Specialist Services, QLD In house pathology for the veterinary practice needs to be easy to use, reliable and easily maintained. We have been using the Vetscan haematology and biochemistry systems now for more than 15 years! We couldn’t do without it! Bruce Mackay BVSc FACVSc Tewantin Veterinary Surgery, Qld (3 June, 2014) To whom it may concern, I am the extremely satisfied owner of the Vetscan HM2 haematology and the Vetscan VS2 biochemistry analysis machines supplied to me by REM Systems. Having had extensive experience with other haematology and biochemistry machines currently on the market, the main feature that sold these systems to me was the simplicity of operation – put simply the less human generated steps, the less room for error. This has indeed been my experience compared to other machines I have used. The error rate is extremely low and the customer technical support fast and efficient. Training my support staff to use these machines is a breeze. Overall, it is reassuring to know that I will receive accurate and rapid results for my patients when using these systems. I would highly recommend these systems to anyone looking to invest in quality diagnostic equipment Dr Kerrie Kenzler BVSc Turramurra Vet Hospital, NSW Our Vetscan machine gives us results fast. It is much easier to use than other testing units we considered, so we’re doing way more tests than we expected. Good for patients and our practice. Dr James R Thompson BVSc MANZCVS (Surgery).
Make Great Happen, make veterinary nursing your career at TAFE Queensland Brisbane TAFE Queensland Brisbane creates and celebrates the doers in our country. The people who make the world turn. Industries recognise our graduates as being the best-trained job-ready workers in the state. Almost 90% of our graduates step straight into a job after completing their qualification. When you study with us, you receive practical training and experience in real industry settings. With expert teachers and simulated environments such as a veterinary surgery, grooming salon and even a radiography unit you will gain the specific industry skills you need for success. Stephanie Woods (pictured) is a perfect example of how we can help you Make Great Happen. She landed a traineeship in a veterinary clinic and undertook a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing mid-way through Year 12. Stephanie boasts, “The course is fantastic and I credit my successful career as a vet nurse to my TAFE and industry experiences. “All the materials are online, so you can complete assignments around your work hours,” she adds. Choose from a range of courses to suit your lifestyle: • Diploma of Veterinary Nursing (Emergency and Critical Care) • Diploma of Veterinary Nursing (General Practice) • Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing Enrol today for July intake and Make Great Happen at tafebrisbane.edu.au, 13 72 48.
“There were three women and 78 men in my year. We often received barbs from the professors or were simply ignored because we were women.” Dr Pamela Tinslay
Vet, animal behaviourist, TV presenter, radio host and author, Dr Pamela Tinslay’s six-decade career is still going strong. By Frank Leggett BONDI JUNCTION VETERINARY HOSPITAL IS one of the most familiar practices in Australia thanks to the television series, Bondi Vet. While Dr Chris Brown has become the media face of veterinary surgeons, the practice also employs another remarkable veterinarian who’s a trailblazing journalist, television presenter, radio host and author. Now in her eighties, Dr Pamela Tinslay still works one day a week and has just launched her third book, It’s Not About The Llama! Memoirs of a Female Vet. London-born Tinslay had plans to enter the profession from a very young age. “I was an animal-mad 12-year-old when I decided to become a vet,” she recalls. “I finished high school just after the war but there was a rush of ex-servicemen going to college. We school leavers were relegated to the bottom of the pack so there was a bit of a delay before I started.” At that time, it was very unusual for females to take on veterinary surgery as a career. “There were three women and 78 men in my year. We often received barbs from the professors or were simply ignored because we were women. Mind you, all three of us qualified and we’ve had the last laugh. We’re all still alive and well!” After qualifying, Tinslay’s family decided to move to Australia but this headstrong young woman refused to go. Instead, she took a job at a prestigious practice in the Channel Islands. She worked so hard that after a year, she weighed just 44 kilos. “It was a tough job and I was exhausted,” she recalls. “After that I decided to go to Australia.” She arrived knowing nothing about the country and with no idea what she was going to do. After working for a year at the North Shore Veterinary Hospital, Tinslay took a job as an air hostess with Australian National Airways. Unsatisfied in this non-veterinary position, she only lasted six months before
Left: Dr Pamela Tinslay promoting the ABC-TV series, Pet’s Corner. Right: Before starting at the Australian Jockey Club, she spent a short stint working as a flight attendant. becoming assistant analyst at the Australian Jockey Club. However, testing saliva for doping wasn’t really her cup of tea so, in quick succession, Tinslay got married, had a child and in 1955 opened a practice in Sydney’s Paddington. She was there for 45 years. Over the next few decades, Tinslay built an impressive career that spanned multiple platforms. She had a weekly column in Woman’s Day for 30 years and a daily column in the The Sun newspaper for 17 years. The columns were written under the pseudonyms Elizabeth Charles and Kate Newby as vets weren’t allowed to advertise. “The Veterinary Surgeon’s Control Board
“It’s wrong when the only choice is to find the money or put the animal down. There should be other alternatives.” Dr Pamela Tinslay
called on me and claimed I was advertising my services. It took some time to convince them that I was using the different names so no connection could be made back to my practice. Of course, nowadays vets advertise all over the place.” Tinslay also starred in a number of animal programs on the ABC. Pet’s Corner was a live-to-air children’s program. “It was very exciting to work with two of the ABC’s biggest stars, Mr Squiggle and Pat Lovell,” says Tinslay, laughing. Two other programs in which Tinslay appeared, Animal Life and People’s Pets, were aimed at adults. Radio was a natural match to the style of this enthusiastic vet. Tinslay appeared on ABC Radio’s Argonauts Club and was on talkback radio at 2GB. Throughout this busy media career, she still kept her practice running in Paddington. “I wasn’t often recognised from TV,” she recalls. “Paddington was a low socioeconomic area back then and a lot of my clients were pensioners, the unemployed and recent migrants. I don’t suppose many of them owned a television.” On top of all this, Tinslay has also had two previous books published, Animal Doctor and Your Dog. Her third book, the self-published It’s Not About The Llama! is a fascinating look back over a long and varied veterinary career. Not that Tinslay’s career is at an end. She’s still involved with the puppy school at the Bondi Junction Veterinary Hospital,
employing her skills as an animal behaviourist. “I love the puppy school,” she says. “I’ve been helping run the five-week course for 15 years. It’s great for a vet my age.” Tinslay has strong ideas about the state of veterinary services in Australia. “I think vets charge too much,” she says bluntly. “A dental for a cat can be around $550. That›s a hell of a slug for a pensioner. “I understand the economics of the situation. Rent, wages, equipment, cost of drugs, high real-estate value all mean the only answer is to charge high fees. However, if you talk to the public, the profession has a bad reputation in regard to fees. When I was writing my columns, people would constantly ask me for help because they couldn’t afford to go to the vet. “The Veterinary Surgeons Board asks us to provide best practice but is that a good thing in all situations? Best practice invariably means high prices. If the client can’t afford the cost, the only option is to leave the animal untreated or have it euthanased.” Tinslay would like to see more ‘cottage practices’ established—smaller facilities where simple procedures can be performed at low cost. As she sums it up, “Places where clients are given more options than just best practice.” “I had neighbours, very poor people, whose 11-year-old cat disappeared and returned with a broken pelvis. The vet recommended a bone surgeon the client simply couldn’t afford. We tried a different treatment. I showed the owner how to look after the toileting and feeding while the cat rested. Three months later the cat was jumping over fences. Tinslay’s passion certainly comes to the fore in regard to this issue. “It’s wrong when the only choice is to find the money or put the animal down,” she says. “There should be other alternatives.” • It’s Not About The Llama! Memoirs of a Female Vet, can be purchased from www. writersandebooks.com or contact Sally Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Chlamydophila causes pain and distress.
Antibiotics will eventually work but ...
wouldn’t it be better to prevent it?
Maybe it’s time to break the cycle. “Cats with Chlamydophila infection can experience quite intense and uncomfortable ocular inflammation. With no obvious downsides, practitioners should seriously consider vaccinating against Chlamydophila routinely, particularly in younger cats.” Prof. T Gruffydd-Jones, BVetMed PhD DipECVIM MRCVS, University of Bristol, 2013
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. Fel-O-Vax® is a registered trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. Bi787TA-06/14
to improve your Facebook page
Regular posts to your Facebook Page not only promotes your practice’s professionalism—it also reveals your personality. By Kerryn Ramsey
have your fans share their thoughts or opinions on various topics. The more actively you engage your fans, the more visible your veterinary Facebook Page will become and the more people will want to share your content with their own networks, thereby increasing your reach.” A few snippets from your staff’s lives, such as a vet nurse’s new kitten, is certainly worthwhile as it resonates with your audience and builds rapport. “Veterinary practices often support animal organisations or community groups,” says Prak. “You can share stories related to those, and show your Facebook fans how you’re committed to your community.”
CELEBRATING ITS 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR, FACEBOOK IS the essential social network used by most businesses. One of its most effective tools, Facebook Page (formerly known as brand or fan page) is a fantastic option for vet practices as it helps connect regularly with your clients, as well as attracting new customers. “Social media is the perfect marketing channel to position you and your team as trusted influencers to your clients and their extended networks,” says Sam Mutimer, ThinkTank agency’s director of social media. Posting regularly on your Facebook Page helps foster client loyalty and spreads the word. Here are seven tips to make this public profile work effectively…
2. Showcase your expertise “Social media and mobile marketing are all about personality, and consumers will choose your business over another because of its perceived personality,” explains Mutimer. “So flaunt what makes your veterinary clinic pop and disperse it across all your digital channels, whether it’s your state-of-the-art machinery, the characteristics of your team, your unique premises or your convenient location. Heighten your public awareness to potential clients by showcasing the unique personality that sets your clinic apart from the rest.” But don’t reveal all your trade secrets. As Mutimer explains, don’t overwhelm your clients with too much medical jargon. “Instead, simply offer them digestible content that will keep your practice in the forefront of their mind for any animal medical needs. Share your expertise on daily problems faced by pet owners.”
1. Set the tone When updating posts, it’s important to balance your professionalism, warmth and even a sense of humour. “Above all, show some personality, ask your fans questions and encourage a conversation that will ensure they see you as their friendly local vet,” says Michelle Prak, an Adelaide-based social media consultant. “Ensure you don’t talk about yourself all the time, but offer tips and advice that will attract and retain fans.” Topics could cover subjects such as the introduction of a new staff member, inspirational stories, tick problems during summer, pet insurance tips, latest products, and news snippets. “Being interactive is key,” says Prak. “Ask trivia questions or
3. Loyalty time Facebook is the perfect vehicle to reward dedicated clients. Offering an exclusive discount or free sample on your Facebook Page can encourage clients to come into your practice or to book an appointment online. “Facebook fans do enjoy discounts and competitions, and Facebook’s terms and conditions around these are now more flexible than ever,” says Prak. “Experiment with competitions, offering perhaps fun treatments for some pets.”
“Show some personality, ask your fans questions and encourage a conversation that will ensure they see you as their friendly local vet.” Michelle Prak, social media consultant
4. Animal attraction “One thing I’ve noticed on social media for many years is that people adore animal photos,” says Prak. “Where possible, share photographs of the animals that come through the practice. Share their little stories.” But remember, you’ll need to gain customers’ permission first. Mutimer adds: “Animal owners love showcasing to the world that their pet is the best in show. So when your patients and their beloved pets visit your practice, encourage your staff to snap a photo of them and upload it to your social networks.” Prak suggests it’s also worthwhile showing off your staff’s pets. “Many vets and their staff are passionate animal owners themselves, so sometimes your Facebook updates will be about your own pets and how you like to spend time with them.” 5. Unleash your creativity Facebook fans are quickly bored of the same old thing over and over, so the trick is to add new elements, such as images, personal anecdotes, amusing quotes, links to current news articles, and even your own blog updates. One of the most effective ways to keep your Facebook Page viral is to add video uploads. “Your video doesn’t have to be super-slick or expensive,” says Mutimer. “Just ensure that you upload short videos that highlight your expertise. Provide your potential clients with a little insight into your personality, offering a piece of knowledge to take away.” 6. Use your keywords Since you’re competing against so many vet practices, a simple way to solidify your Facebook presence is making sure your text is ‘keyword rich’. Just like the search engine optimisation (SEO) process, choose suitable key phrases to improve search engine ranking. In other words, you don’t need to enter oodles of text— just incorporate your targeted keywords, such as ‘Kids & pets’. 7. Fine tuning To keep your Facebook Page popular, remember to review and refine regularly. “Continue to look back over your results and learn from what works, including the best time of day to post, and the most popular type of content,” says Prak. A free feature called Facebook Insights shows the age, gender and location of your followers. Mutimer explains: “It also shows how many people saw your posts, what days are best to post, as well as who took action—eg. liked, commented or shared a post from the surgery.” When refining, check what tone appeals to your clients—a quick-fix cartoon often has a better hit than a well-researched piece. A funny story may spread the word. After all, laughter is often the best medicine.
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A little help from my friends
Young veterinary graduates can seem bright-eyed at the start of their careers—but while they are highly educated and ready to make their mark, they’ll need mentoring to kick off the next stage of their working lives. By Sue Nelson TO SUCCEED AS A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL in the modern world requires many skills that simply aren’t taught. As well as business acumen and a level of economic pragmatism, graduates need a range of ‘soft’ skills to help them manage their patients, their colleagues and an often-demanding workload. They might be having trouble coming to terms with difficult early clinical decisions they have had to make. They often need to talk to someone who has done all this before— and perhaps learnt the hard way. Universities and employers are recognising the importance of transferring the wisdom and experience of mentors to students and young graduates through programs that assist in pairing them up. These older vets—who usually have to have a minimum of three years in the workforce— can provide invaluable professional advice and support, model some of these ‘soft’ skills for graduates and provide companionship through some of the tough times. “The practical nature of veterinary practice means it is very difficult for veterinary
colleges around Australia to impart all the skills necessary for practice,” says Dr Brian McErlean, a retired veterinarian and AVA Benevolent Fund Trustee who has just completed two years as the coordinator of the OneLife suicide prevention program in Western Australia. The OneLife program dovetailed into the Graduate Support Scheme, which was established in the mid-’90s in response to high numbers of graduates with depression, and had mentoring at its heart. “It provided resources and education for the whole profession in WA,” says Dr McErlean. “In essence it was created to educate veterinarians about mental health and in particular depression. It alerted mentors and mentees to the early signs of trouble; social withdrawal, disconnection and substance abuse. It has encouraged all veterinarians to gate-keep each other since early intervention is vital when so many are surrounded by lethal substances.” But mentors are not just there for crisis situations. They can provide career coaching—helping graduates to make choices
A well-run mentoring program benefits both mentors and mentees equally.
about specialisation, internships and residences and research. “The mentor can encourage the mentee to solve their own problems using rational approaches and goal setting,” Dr McErlean says. “The mentor can direct an inexperienced graduate to help—be it professional or psychological.” A mentor is perhaps best placed to be a sounding board because he or she is not a relative, nor a peer, nor a colleague—all of whom may be too close to the action. A mentor has the relevant expertise, but also perhaps the relevant distance from the graduate’s own problems and can offer confidential support. “While the universities are very strong on knowledge, they vary in the enormously
challenging area of providing practical skills,” Dr McErlean says. “New graduates need a very supportive environment to get off to a good start and not all practices can provide this.” The mentoring program at the University of Sydney has been running since 2009. Program director David Foote says the program is introduced at a time in the students’ lives—their final year—where there are challenges and uncertainties. “We thought that many could benefit from the assistance and guidance of a mentor at that time,” says Foote. The program will soon be extended to new graduates, allowing them to take the mentoring relationship into the workplace.
Foote says that about half of the mentor relationships formed during the program continue informally, well into the students’ careers. There is a range of topics mentors can help with—from discussing treatments and clinical issues to debriefing following difficult cases; nutting out ethical quandaries and philosophical questions to planning career pathways and even griping about poor workplace conditions. There are some key preconditions to making the relationship work. Confidentiality must be maintained by both parties at all times, especially during clinical discussions. Mutual trust and respect is also necessary for the relationship to blossom— for example, turning up to appointments on
“New graduates need a very supportive environment to get off to a good start.” Dr Brian McErlean
Even the most capable and well-adjusted new vet finds benefits in knowing a mentor is there, even if he or she isn’t needed.
time and responding to emails promptly. As with any new relationship, the parties take time to get to know each other and to build a rapport. Foote attributes the success of the University of Sydney’s program to the initial training and guidance given to both parties to establish the personal and professional bond. In the rare circumstances where a mentor and a mentee don’t seem to click (about five
“Veterinary knowledge is rapidly expanding and it can be a challenge to keep up to date, particularly for geographically isolated regions.” Dr Tim White
in 50 matches or 10 per cent), it is Foote’s role to step in and mediate, and do what he can to get the relationship back on track. In very rare circumstances a new match may need to be made. “A good mentor is an individual, a friend, a teacher, a confidant and a role model to another individual,” says Dr McErlean. “The roles may overlap. Mentors have to learn to listen and not cast judgement. Confidentiality and trust are paramount to the relationship. “Graduates with great communication, coping and resilience skills may have less requirement for a mentor than one without these abilities,” he continues. “But circumstances can change quickly with the sudden death of a patient or the threat of a board or litigation case arising.” “There are a range of benefits to the mentees including help and guidance with their personal and professional development,” says Foote. “Even those who are capable and well adjusted and have few ‘needs’ always say that just knowing that there is someone there—a unique help who is not a relative or friend—provides them with a sense of comfort.” “I went through university in the days before mentoring,” says Melbourne-based vet, Dr Tim White. “I understand that medical faculties have undergone considerable debate over time constraints for teaching technical skills versus soft communication, coping and career planning.” The extreme is whether you want a vet who can hold your hand but not treat the patient versus the vet that can treat the pet
but is abrupt, rude and possibly burnt out. “I was a mentor for two graduates. One has gone on to an internship and possible specialisation; the other went into research,” says Dr White. “Some mentors may be very helpful. There is evidence to suggest that support for medical graduates is effective between peers and I found that the good relationships with my classmates were very helpful when I graduated.” Dr White believes more support needs to be provided to mid- and late-career veterinarians. “Veterinary knowledge is rapidly expanding and it can be a challenge to keep up to date, particularly for geographically isolated regions,” he says. “Also with the surplus of veterinarians in Australia, there is an increasing need for advice on careers and entering new fields.” Brian McErlean agrees: “The mentoring program only operates for new graduates at present, but there is a school of thought that every veterinarian should have a mentor for life. There is nothing to stop any veterinarian finding their own mentor.” “Mentors receive ‘the reward of altruism’, which is a very powerful thing,” says Foote. “Helping another person for nothing can have a profoundly beneficial effect on the mood of the helper in addition to adding a layer of meaning and purpose to their life. In an often high-pressure profession, this relationship can create a good psychological outcome for both parties.” Interested in becoming a mentor? Both the AVA (WA division) and the Intern Mentoring Program at the University of Sydney are interested in hearing from you.
The Vet Nurse Profession Awards Recognising Exceptional Veterinary Nurses
National Vet Nurse of the Year Award 2014
Pictured on the left Laura Hayden 2013 National Vet Nurse of the Year Award winner and on the right Kathryn George (2012 winner).
Nominations are NOW OPEN for the 2014 National Vet Nurse of the Year Award Pictured from left to right: Sonia Van De Kamp (2013 finalist), Laura Hayden (winner of the 2013 National Vet Nurse of the Year Award) and Amie Petersen (2013 finalist).
The Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia (VNCA) and Hills Pet NutritionTM understand and appreciate the important role that veterinary nurses perform every day. The National Vet Nurse of the Year Award is jointly run by the VNCA and Hill’s to recognise vet nurses dedication and commitment to the industry and to honour these highly skilled professionals, who are an essential part of any veterinary practice. Nominees should provide exceptional service and deliver the highest possible standard of patient care. All nominated veterinary nurses will receive a gift to acknowledge their efforts and nomination. Nominations are accepted from employers, practice staff, clients or industry representatives. Veterinary nurses may also nominate themselves.
Recommended by Veterinarians WorldwideTM
Nomination Eligibility Nominees must be currently employed as a veterinary nurse in an Australian veterinary practice for a minimum of 16 hours per week. Entries will be judged by a panel of 4 including VNCA Executive Committee members and managers from Hill’s Three finalists will be flown to Sydney, be transported by limousine to a harbourside restaurant to enjoy a presentation lunch with veterinary industry representatives on Vet Nurse Day, Friday 10th October 2014. Nominees must be available to attend the presentation lunch where the winner will be announced. The winner will be awarded a trophy, gift, VNCA Badge, registration to the Hill’s VNA Nurses Weekend Retreat*, registration and accommodation for the 2015 Annual VNCA Conference*. In addition the two finalists will be awarded a trophy, gift, VNCA badge as well as registration to Hill’s Annual VNA Nurse’s Weekend Retreat*.
Nominations forms can be found at: www.vnca.asn.au/ © 2014 Hill’s Pet Nutrition Pty. Limited (TM) shown are registered trademarks owned by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.
online approach IN THE MEDICAL WORLD, WHETHER RELATING TO humans or pets, specialists have very little respect for Dr Google. Going online to figure out what is wrong with you, your children or your pets is pointless, most believe. Other experts go as far as saying it is a dangerous practice and should be heavily discouraged. But no matter how much a medico rails against the internet as a form of knowledge gathering, clients are consulting Dr Google in greater numbers than ever. It is a pattern that did not go unnoticed by veterinarians Dr Nicholas Wonders and Dr Benjamin Willcocks when they first went into practice after graduating in 2008, Wonders from the University of Sydney and Willcocks from the University of Queensland. The two had been friends since they were 15 years of age, both attending school together. As their careers as vets took off, they stayed in touch and discussed various business opportunities. “When we were working in practices, we always noticed that when clients would come in to the
clinic one of the first things they would say was, ‘We Googled our pet’s symptoms…’,” Wonders says. “Whether they came up with something similar to what their pet was actually suffering from, or whether they didn’t even come close, we realised very quickly there was a real lack of reputable online resources around the topic of pet health.” In 2011 the childhood friends decided to do something about this. They worked days in vet practices and spent their nights developing content, partnerships, technology and, of course, a website that would bring it all together. In March 2013 they launched Vetico, an online pet community that today contains over 1500 articles, blogs, news pieces and other forms of content. “From day one we were mindful of not overstepping the mark with vets,” Wonders says. “This website is built to complement the traditional vet/ client relationship, not to replace it. Sometimes a vet doesn’t have the time to fully explain the ins and outs of a particular condition, or sometimes clients
Photography: Richard Birch
Most vets wince when a client mentions the fact they went online to figure out what was wrong with their pet. But two veterinarians are turning that reaction on its head by approaching the issue from a different angle. By Chris Sheedy
Dr Nicholas Wonders (left) and Dr Benjamin Willcocks launched Vetico in 2013.
â€œWe realised very quickly there was a real lack of reputable online resources around the topic of pet health.â€? Dr Nicholas Wonders
“Our main idea has always been to educate pet owners. That education factor has been at the core of the business from the very beginning.”
Although Vetico is now a self-supporting business, it still keeps Wonders and Willcocks busy.
simply desire much more detail. In that case, the vet can recommend their client visits Vetico, and from there they can read the facts, learn from the experiences of others that have had similar issues with their pets and become a member of an online community that works with vets.” Building an online business Having transformed itself into a selfsupporting business, Vetico still keeps Wonders and Willcocks exceptionally busy. Initially, in order to develop the site, the pair did a great deal of groundwork in terms of developing editorial content and building the technical parts of the website. “We also sought a lot of advice and
spent a huge amount of time educating ourselves on areas of the business we had limited experience in. As the company has developed, we have been able to take on part-time staff and contractors in the areas of marketing, web development, design and so on,” Wonders says. “Our main idea has always been to educate pet owners. That education factor has been at the core of the business from the very beginning and has been the focus of our editorial content. Interestingly however, over time we began to recognise a relationship building up between the users of our site. A community was creating itself as we added news pieces, blogs and forums, etc. People were really becoming engaged,
which further helped us communicate and educate. So part of the site was built by grand design and part of it was developed along the way as we realised what our users really valued.” Although the company is quickly developing into a stand-alone business, the 30-year-olds say they will always work as vets because without that regular contact with pet owners, and without the steady immersion in the world of vet science, they will lose sight of what the industry needs and what the pet owners want. Without being practising vets, in other words, they will lose their own engagement with the topic area. So what’s the next step for Vetico? “We are ecstatic with the progress we have made with the site thus far,” Wonders says. “The people we engage, the pet owners, love the site and the community has grown to over 15,000 unique users. We also work with charities and educational bodies such as Animal Welfare League Australia, Vets Beyond Borders, the University of Sydney and WSPA, all of whom provide us with regular blogs, articles and news pieces. “Now that we have established our community we are in the process of setting up exclusive relationships with commercial partners from various parts of the pet care industry such as insurance, food, parasite prevention, and so on. In doing so we will be able to take Vetico’s pet health and interest message to a much larger audience.” When pet owners register, they can access a range of member benefits including: Access to hundreds of articles covering a broad range of topics from first aid to behavioural advice Regular blogs from vets, specialists, animal health and welfare organisations and other pet owners Pet-related news articles from around the globe
Photography: Richard Birch
Dr Nicholas Wonders
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Vetico encourages veterinarians to take its content and reproduce it in brochures or newsletters.
Online support from specialist breed and interest groups Forums on specific topics, moderated by vets to ensure accuracy of advice Photos and videos by members Customised reminders for medications and vaccinations Competitions and regular giveaways. How vets can utilise Vetico Why should any of this be of interest to veterinarians, some who view the internet with suspicion at best, and disdain at worst? “The reason vets should be interested is because the site was developed by experienced veterinarians with the sole intention
“At Vetico we have a comprehensive library of unique advice and information all written or overseen by vets.” Dr Nicholas Wonders
of educating pet owners by complementing the relationship they currently have with their vet,” Wonders says. And unlike most content producers, Vetico encourages vets to take its content and reproduce it in brochures, newsletters, discharge instructions and so on, so long as that content is credited as having come from Vetico. “As it stands, we already provide a regular industry email to veterinarians and pet industry representatives, with suggested content for use on their own sites, on their social media platforms, in blogs, newsletters and basically any form of correspondence.” Wonders says. “At Vetico we have a comprehensive library of unique advice and information all written or overseen by vets, and it makes a lot of sense to recommend clients to our site. For instance, if you are having a busy day and have consults back to back, you simply don’t have the time to spend half an hour going into fine detail about a condition or procedure. Alternatively, if you know that the client has a habit of Googling information, referring them to Vetico may be a way for you to control the reliability and trustworthiness of their online information intake.” The founders of the site have been careful to ensure it does not include any form of self-diagnosis functionality, but instead offers further information once a diagnosis has been made by a vet, Wonders says. So the client visits the vet and has their pet diagnosed. Then, after that visit, the Vetico
website can be utilised by the client to seek further information about the illness, the injury, the drugs and the treatments being used to resolve the issue. The user-generated content that Vetico members are able to create means the site is moving into a space characterised by community and care, by support and mutual interest. If a cat has diabetes, Wonders explains, then treatment by a vet is vital. But there will be ongoing care and lifestyle adjustments and in a lot of circumstances compliance can be improved by providing a veterinary-controlled online environment where owners can interact and help educate one another. Website members are able to seek further information, to ask questions to both pet owners and vets around specific topics, to share experiences with others who have faced similar issues, and to be welcomed into a community that cares about pets as much as they do. In a country with record levels of pet ownership, Wonders says, it’s no surprise that a site such as Vetico has experienced such popular success. Now all the co-founders need to do is convince the industry that it poses only opportunities and no threats. “The content on our site, as well as the experts, including Ben and myself, and including the members of the site, all come together to complement the work being done by vets and to provide a reliable and reputable information source for pet owners,” says Wonders. “The pet owners, who are at the centre of everything we do, are interested and engaged and community minded. They want to be sure that the advice they are receiving from our site is as good as it can be, so they insist on the best. We can only ensure it is as good as it can be if we have the engagement of vets and the industry. So that’s what we’re concentrating on during the next stage of growth.”
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Exit left Succession planning can make transition to retirement easier and much more profitable but it’s essential to get started early—or you could leave your practice in the lurch. By Jiyan Dessens PLANNING FOR THE SUCCESSION OF YOUR veterinary practice can easily be left until the last minute. However, with the legal preservation age rising and the cost of living in retirement at approximately $1 million, it’s important to put a long-term succession plan in place—both for your own benefit and for the benefit of your veterinary practice. Succession planning is the simplest and easiest way to ensure your practice runs smoothly in the event of your retirement or sudden inability to work. But before you make a commitment, it’s important to do
“Generally we believe that every professional journey should start with the end in mind.” Terry McMaster, McMasters’ Accountants, Solicitors and Financial Planners
your homework and ensure your plan is the best fit for your practice. “Succession planning is a huge area,” says Terry McMaster of McMasters’ Accountants, Solicitors and Financial Planners. “And generally we believe that every professional journey should start with the end in mind, and for many vets that will be a sale of a practice at a significant and tax-free capital gain.” But where to start? There’s so much to do in the day-to-day running of a practice that many veterinarians feel overwhelmed when asked to contemplate leaving their business, let alone establishing a wellthought-out exit strategy. “I sold my practice to people who worked for me,” says Dr Graeme Brown, who recently sold and retired from his practice at Merewether Veterinary Hospital in New South Wales. “It had been on the backburner for years, but I didn’t have a plan in writing. I suppose as I got older I started to consider what I’d do when I wanted to retire. And the people I sold it to approached me 18 months ago so we put the plan in place then.” “I also worked at Sydney University as an academic so I was able to cut down my hours of practice while transitioning to retirement and to the new owners. I only retired three months ago and my stepping down went smoothly, though I think I was fortunate in this respect. I’d recommend that vets should go to an accountant and
set up a plan. I did have a word with my accountant eventually but it’s always better to get started early.” A sentiment echoed by Craig West, CEO of dedicated exit planning firm Succession Plus. “Business succession will happen to you, so you can either control and manage it to get the best outcome or watch it happen around you! The best plans ensure the business owner can maximise the value of the business and successfully extract that value upon exit. “Begin with the end in mind,” West continues. “The earlier you start, the better chance you have to maximise value.” Terry McMaster agrees, adding: “Vets in group practices need to look closely at their co-ownership agreements to see what happens if they want to retire, or if their colleagues want them to retire. “Ideally, they can sell down all or part of their share of the practice and then change teams and be employed by the practice as they move into their retirement years. Our standing instructions here are ‘start to retire early and never stop’. Ideally, and health permitting, the vet will be working at a comfortable pace, and a comfortable space, and adding value to the universe. Everyone wins—the vet, the practice and the patients,” says McMaster. There are many technicalities when it comes to succession planning and it’s always important to ensure that your exit plan takes all of these into account.
Succession planners advise the earlier you start, the better chance you have to maximise value.
“The accountant, lawyer and financial adviser all should work together in building a succession plan for the best outcome.” Chris Wren of Highland Financial
Chris Wren of Highland Financial, a firm specialising in financial and succession planning, explains: “There’s a range of issues from taxation, legal and business structure issues. But overarching all of these technical issues are key things like how dependent the business is on the owners. Could the business run in their
absence and how much goodwill is there in the business? How does the vet see themselves leaving the business—one day selling it, transitioning into retirement by bringing in a younger partner, selling it to an existing partner, or winding it up?” Deciding exactly what you’d like to do with your practice when you retire is a central part of any succession plan. There are many options for vets to consider. According to Craig West, “That can depend upon the issues raised above but I have seen several practices successfully ‘hold on’ to equity and introduce an Employee Share Ownership Plan [ESOP] to allow key staff to participate in the equity of the business over time (either as a sale strategy, selling the practice over time to an ESOP) or as a strategy to sell down, say, 30 per cent to key staff and retain the balance of ownership in the family.” Chris Wren elaborates: “If a vet decides to maintain their practice they need to have the ability to hire good vets in their area to act in a locum capacity, who do not wish to have an equity stake in the business. By implementing conditions
that encourage performance, management and growth of the business as if it was theirs will go a long way to having a profitable asset. It is also important that the owner continues to reinvest to maintain equipment and strive for best practice otherwise the value will diminish.” These are all important things to consider when deciding on a succession plan, but perhaps most important of all is to ensure you’re getting good advice. “Make sure you are dealing with professionals with the appropriate expertise,” Wren explains. “Our experience is that the accountant, lawyer and financial adviser all should work together in building a succession plan for the best outcome. “If any one of these professionals thinks they can ‘go it alone’ or do without one of the other two, that should be a warning sign that they may not know what they are doing,” Wren continues. “How do you know if someone is expert in the area of succession planning beyond having the relevant professional accreditations? Try asking them these questions and see what responses they come up with!”
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5/06/2014 3:54 pm
PRACTICE Financial solutions product guide Vet Practice magazineâ€™s guide to the best financial solutions on the market
A DV E RTO R I A L
Product guide Financial solutions Manage your income to reap the benefits As the end of the financial year looms, it seems sensible to minimise your taxable income. But that’s not necessarily the best idea. In fact, there’s a significant difference between minimising your income and managing it. INVARIABLY, VETERINARIANS ALL HAVE high taxable incomes, so they are always looking for extra deductions around this time of year. “It’s very rare that somebody would not need or want that,” explains Investec’s Kelly Gall. “Our role comes in when they’re looking to purchase assets or stock or anything to get them those extra deductions. We can offer financial products and help structure those facilities to maximise their tax efficiency. Obviously, we don’t offer tax advice—that’s the job of the individual vet’s accountant or financial adviser—but we will say to them, ‘Here are some structures you might want to consider’.” A possible example could be where the vet might want to take out a loan to buy some stock, then immediately pre-pay the interest on that loan. “In that particular example, we could offer an unsecured product, or one secured against the practice, or against commercial property or residential property. That’s an example of where we can be really flexible compared to other banks,” says Gall. A strategic approach to managing your income can pay dividends, but it’s important to plan, explains Gall. This means investigating which costs you can pre-pay, such as leases on equipment, interest on loans and any other expenses you might like to pay that relate to the coming financial year. It’s a strategy that doesn’t just apply to practice owners. “When it comes to employees, or those who don’t have large practices, pre-paying investment properties or car loans, or interest on any commercial property may be worth considering,” Gall explains. “And don’t forget superannuation— depending on your circumstances, you may not have used this year’s allowance for concessional contributions to super.” To take advantage of these strategies generally, you’ll need access to cash, says
Gall. But if that proves difficult, using an overdraft, then paying it back over the next six or 12 months, can prove useful. “Some people do find that idea a bit weird—taking on debt in order to pay down debt—but we often see clients adopt this strategy so they can pre-pay some loans to gain the tax advantages,” Gall adds. “If you’re looking at a big tax bill and you can manage that liability forward a year, that’s an extra 12 months you can hang on to your tax money.” An alternative to taking on an overdraft may be to use your credit card for purchases, which can have a similar effect of spacing repayments across the financial year. Of course there might be expenses associated with that strategy, but they may be balanced out if your card offers generous incentives such as frequent flyer points for eligible spend. The end-of-financial-year sales are often the best time of year to buy a new car, for example, and, “there are commonly concessions for buying a new car,” says Kelly. “It may be that you can claim some deductions even if you buy it on 28 June. When you’ve only owned it for two days and if you finance and prepay a lease, you might realise $10 to $15k worth of deductions.”
Kelly of Investec Bank (Australia) Limited
Many financial institutions will allow you to prepay interest on property, but not all, so if your property loan is with a lender who doesn’t, you may want to investigate refinancing—which brings us back to the issue of planning. If you’re looking to refinance your property, planning ahead will help and it’s worth speaking to your banker as early as possible. In general, says Kelly, I say to people every year, “plan early because until you have an idea of what your income may be, it’s very hard to do any planning to manage your income.” To understand financing options and to enable practitioners to make an informed decision, speak to a professional in the industry with experience in financing for healthcare professionals. Investec Specialist Bank has over 20 years experience working with medical professionals and understands their specific needs. For further information contact one of our financial specialists today or go online to www.investec.com.au/ava.
Your local veterinary finance specialist NSW/ACT
0406 664 377
0419 230 053
0406 428 827
0406 429 268
0404 871 660
Disclaimer The information contained in this article (“Information”) is general in nature and has been provided in good faith, without taking into account your personal circumstances. While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information is accurate and opinions fair and reasonable, no warranties in this regard are provided. We recommend that you obtain independent financial and tax advice before making any decisions.
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A DV E RTO R I A L
Product guide Finance solutions
The Finlease factor
Specialist independent finance advocate Finlease offers a fresh approach to finance that respects your time Independent research has shown that customer satisfaction with the major Banks has plummeted; especially since banking Relationship Managers (RM’s) have replaced the old style Bank Manager. Unfortunately RM’s spend the majority of their time on paperwork, and often see their RM role as a mere stepping stone to other roles within the Bank. RM “churn” remains at high levels. Dentists are tired of having to re-educate their new RM’s and are moving to Specialist Independent Finance Brokers. Specialist Independent Finance Advocates such as Finlease are knowledgeable and experienced in the
Dental field, and they use a number of financiers. Information is gathered from the client ONCE and the ongoing process is managed holistically. They act for the Dentist to source the best funding options in the market. These are specifically tailored to each client’s situation. Finance documents are signed in person at a time and place that is suitable to the client, often after office hours or on weekends. The best thing about money is, (once you’ve got it), Westpac’s money, Bank of Queensland’s money or CBA’s money is just as good as NAB’s or ANZ’s. So you may be thinking why don’t I just call all of the banks myself?
finance advocates acting for you
Four reasons. 1. Recorded messages and wearing out your fingernails pressing “ONE” either costs practice time or family time. 2. Credit departments within Banks require detailed and compelling business cases, in their own language. 3. Finlease introduced $350M in 2013 and sources the best solutions in the market 4. There is true wisdom in spreading your debt across a range of funders A good Specialist offers a single point of contact so that clients never have to talk to the Bank. Finlease visits each client to gain a full understanding of their practice and then reverts with a proposal. If it’s acceptable the client may proceed. If not, the client may decline with no obligation, sure in the knowledge that all details are archived for the next purchase. Article provided by Steve Daley, Finlease – 0448 480 405.
still have a central role in diagnostics. This system has allowed us to integrate our practice management software with our radiographs. When we charge a radiograph that is attached to the patient file, it sends a unique identification number to the X-ray machine. It populates the X-ray machine with the client and patient details and arranges for a study to be undertaken. We then take the radiograph and export the digital image to our central server. The unique number created at the start of the process means that those images are forever tagged to that patient. It has massively streamlined our radiographic process.
The animal equivalent to a human dentist’s chair; an exceptional portable monocular microscope; and much more are under review this month
What’s not so good There is a fairly large capital outlay when purchasing this machine but if you look at the decrease in staff time in developing radiographs, the lack of any chemical or film costs, and the throughput benefits, it pays itself off very quickly. Where did you get it Fuji (www.fujifilm.com.au).
IM3 Elite by Dr Storm Gifford, Girraween Veterinary Hospital, Howard Springs, NT I’ve been using IM3 units for dental work on dogs and cats for the past three years. My old clinic had an earlier model and we purchased this one in February this year.
Fuji FDR D-EVO digital radiography
What’s good about it You can use the Elite to do everything from a general scale and polish to an extraction—it’s the animal equivalent to a human dentist’s chair. It’s completely self-contained with the compressor, air, water, dental tools and everything needed to run the equipment all in the one unit. The whole thing is on wheels so it can be moved out of the way or to another room. We keep it in our dirty surgery/wet prep area but it can be easily moved to where it is needed. I’ve only ever used it on dogs and cats but it can be used for dental work on other animals like rabbits, guinea pigs and exotic pets. The practice would simply need to purchase some animal-specific tools attached. IM3 is a very accessible company. You can call them anytime and they will talk you through any problems you’re having. A rep came out and gave us training on how to operate the machine when we first purchased it. So far, we haven’t had any problems.
by Dr Sam Snelling, Advanced Vetcare, Kensington, VIC When we opened our practice, we used a CR reader but, about three years ago, we upgraded to a Fuji DR version. Swapping from CR [computed radiography] to DR [digital radiography] has been as much of an advance as swapping from normal films to the CR. What’s good about it It is very fast—the image appears on the computer monitor within a couple of seconds. We only have one machine but can rapidly move cases through the radiology suite. The digital image can then be shown to the client or emailed to the referring vet. That just wasn’t possible with the old film based system. We do a lot of hip replacements in our practice and also use the system for trauma cases, checking for tumours in bones, contrast studies of the urinary tract, and checking lung pathology and heart size. Even though it’s not as advanced as CT, ultrasound and MRI scans, radiographs
What’s not so good As it’s monocular, it’s not really suitable for looking at slides for hours on end. It’s more of a quick tool to use for diagnosis.
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Where did you get it The microscope is made in China and can be purchased from my online store (www.thefishvet.com.au).
What’s not so good There’s only one thing and it’s more of an annoyance than a real problem. Every instrument has a cord attached to it and if you’re messy like me, the cords can sometimes get in the way. If everything could be made wireless and rechargeable, that would be awesome. Where did you get it IM3 (www.im3vet.com.au).
Tono-pen XL by Dr Kimberley Godwin, Canberra Vet Hospital, Canberra, ACT
Premiere Portable Rechargeable Monocular Microscope by Dr Richmond Loh, The Fish Vet, Perth, WA
This is a small digital tool that we use to measure the intraocular pressure [IOP] in the eye of cats and dogs. It’s very useful when checking for uveitis or glaucoma. I use it for every consult where the animal is suffering from an eye problem.
This is a microscope that I sell in my online store. Over the years, I have tried many different types of microscopes and spent thousands of dollars on them. Working full time as a veterinary pathologist, I know a good scope when I see one. I truly believe this is an exceptional microscope—that’s why I wanted to sell them.
What’s good about it It has a very small reader on the tip that’s held against the cornea after instilling some local anaesthetic drops. There is also a small plastic disposable cover for each animal in order to maintain sterility and hygiene. The tip is gently tapped against the cornea five times to take one reading. I usually repeat the readings a minimum of three times and then take the average of those results. The pressure is displayed on a small digital screen that also shows a five, 10, 20 or >20 per cent error margin. However, if the animal is well behaved and tolerates the readings, there is normally only a five or 10 per cent error margin. I try and only take five per cent error readings. It’s important not to restrain the animal too tightly around the neck because that can increase the intraocular pressure. I generally use gentle restraint and a muzzle if they are prone to bite. It can be helpful if you hold the Tono-pen like a pen with your palm touching the side of their face the whole time to keep stability.
What’s good about it This is perfect for the mobile veterinarian. As a fish vet, I am completely mobile, visiting fish farms and people’s homes to check out their tanks. I take this microscope everywhere I go, even if I fly interstate. In a fish practice, you’re always looking for parasites. The main diagnostic features are their shape and the way they move. It’s best to test within one or two minutes of preparing the sample which means, in most cases, it’s impossible to take a sample back to the lab or clinic. The microscope can be plugged straight into a power point, or run off a rechargeable battery that lasts for up to 20 hours. Even though it’s completely portable, it has all the features of a larger, heavier model. At 3.6kg, it’s light enough to be portable, and is stable enough on the bench. It has four, 10, 40 and 100X objectives, great optics, a mechanised stage that holds two slides, and coarse and fine focus.
What’s not so good The Tono-pen needs to be calibrated each time it is used. To calibrate properly, I turn on the Tono-pen and wait approximately 15 seconds holding it with the tip pointed down. Then you flip it 180 degrees so the tip is pointing straight up. Sometimes you need to do this multiple times to get a good calibration before starting to measure the IOP. That can be a bit frustrating if you’re in a consult with a client watching. Where did you get it BOC Instruments (www.bocinstruments.com.au).
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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. Fax Number 02 8875 8715. NEW ZEALAND: Boehringer Ingelheim (NZ) Ltd. Animal Health Division, Level 1, Unit 9, 42 Ormiston Road, East Tamaki, Auckland. Toll Free 0800 802 461. Fax Number 09 271 0629. Restricted Veterinary Medicine. Access is only through a Veterinary Authorisation. Metacam速 is a registered trademark of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica GmbH, 55216 Ingelheim/Rhein. BIMET0012/V/OCH. May 2014.
From the moment she set foot on the dance floor, Dr Kylie Clifford of the Adelaide Animal Hospital, SA, has had a love affair with Argentine tango
“Buenos Aires is the mecca of Argentine tango and I’ve been there five times. It’s amazing, like a cross between a crumbling Paris but with a Latin flavour. “The first time I visited I’d only had 10 tango lessons but was determined to dance. As one of my friends pointed out, I had delusions of adequacy. The social dance is called a Milonga and the one we chose was so crowded, there wasn’t much room to move. This worked out well for me as the basics I had learnt was enough to let me muddle through. “About 14 years ago, I was living in country Victoria and attended my first Argentine tango lesson. I was hooked from that very first class. “When dancing the tango, there’s a leader and follower. The leader proposes a move and direction, and the follower moves into that space. It’s a completely improvised dance—when I’m dancing, I don’t know from second to second what I am going to do next. “When attending a tango social event, you will dance with complete strangers. No-one comes up and asks you—it’s all done with eye contact. This was developed in 19th-century Buenos Aires when image and ego were everything. Someone might catch my eye and nod their head towards the dance floor. If I look away and refuse to dance, no-one except for that person and myself know what has passed between us. “At present I teach tango one night a week, go to a class one night a week, and dance at socials up to four times a month. I’ve been dancing for 14 years and my passion isn’t going to go away. “I also travel a lot and there’s tango all over the world. It’s great to walk into a room where I don’t speak the language but I know the rules and I know how it’s going to work. So far I have tangoed on five continents, and there will be many more tango journeys in the future.” • Kylie teaches at Southern Cross Tango, www.southerncrosstango.com.au
Interview: Frank Leggett. Photography: David Mariuz
It takes two to tango
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