#7: Doing the hard things. Dr Craig ChallenThe Vet Vault add
Our guest today is a successful businessman who, in his free time, likes to put on a skin-tight black neoprene suit and use his special skills and unique equipment to save lives. No - it’s not Batman, but it may as well be.
Dr Craig Challen has become an Australian icon for his role as a rescue diver in the Thailand cave rescue that captivated the world in late 2018. For his efforts in the rescue, Craig was awarded the Star Of Courage award in Australia, nominated as a Companion of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn in Thailand, and, together with his dive partner, as the joint Australian of the year for 2018/19.
But long before any of this happened, Craig was an accomplished veterinarian and business owner. He had built and run a successful group of veterinary practices, while also quietly becoming one of the world’s most highly qualified cave divers. It's an incredible story with a very, VERY happy ending, and we are thrilled to have Craig share it with you.
In our conversation, we dive deep into the world of veterinary business. Craig shares with us from his wealth of experience tips that vary from how to be a good employee, all the way to building a multi-practice business. Listen out for his 4 step formula to dealing with complaints towards the end of the episode. We talk about career plans, fear, self-confidence, doing hard things, and Craig gives us his take on the challenge of living a balanced life.
But first, we kick off deep underground in a cave, somewhere in Thailand.
# 6: Simple habits, big results. Dr Paula ParkerThe Vet Vault add
For this episode we are fortunate to have with us a young vet who is contributing more to the veterinary profession in her relatively short career than many of us will do in a lifetime. Dr Paula Parker was the president of the Australian Veterinary Association for 2018/19, and is the youngest person ever to be elected to this position. When she is not leading the team that makes major policy decisions and guides the future of our our profession both in Australia and internationally she works as an emergency vet in a practice in the Gold Coast, Australia.
Our chat with Paula unearthed some very practical tips and tools for every day life as a vet.
I personally found the discussions about productivity, mental resetting and transitioning, and how to get past no especially useful. We also cover a wide range of other topics, like the pros and cons of rural practice, how to deal with being the ‘new vet’, especially the new ‘girl’ vet in a farm practice environment, controlling the controllables, the value of serving on committees and other organisations, and about vomiting for fun... Paula addresses a huge issue for many people in our profession: money - how to think about it, how to talk about it, and how to make it.
We trust that you’ll find this conversation as inspiring as we did.
# 5: Mental health masterclass. Dr Nadine HamiltonThe Vet Vault add
Dr Nadine Hamilton is a psychologist, but she’s not just your everyday psychologist - she’s OUR psychologist. After nearly 35 years of experience in a variety of industries she is now a leading voice and helping hand for the veterinary profession. Through her practice, Positive Psych Solutions, she works exclusively with vets, helping them to be the best they can be for their patients and themselves.
However, Nadine was not satisfied with small scale solutions: her recently published book “Learning To Cope With Stress And Burnout As A Veterinarian’ is already proving very useful for many in the profession, and will undoubtedly become a vital mental health resource for vets around the world.
Dr Hamilton is also the founder of the “Love Your Pet, Love Your Vet’ charity, which aims to raise community awareness of the shadow side to the veterinary profession, as well as reducing stigma for those working in the industry about seeking help when they need it. Her work with the charity has brought some of the challenges that vets face to the attention of the general public through some very successful media exposure.
As can be expected from someone with Nadine’s background, our discussion with her provides some fantastic insight into the state of mental health in our profession, with some very practical advice on building and maintaining resilience, and on how to speak up and find help when you are going through tough times.
Please enjoy this conversation with one of the leading minds in veterinary mental health today - Dr Nadine Hamilton.
# 4: To the brink and back: a guide to surviving and thriving in veterinary science. Dr Oliver LiyouThe Vet Vault add
In this episode we speak to a vet who, in his 26 years in the veterinary profession, has experienced some fantastic highs , but also some of the very darkest lows. His journey has taught him crucial lessons on how to not only survive, but thrive in this sometimes challenging profession of ours, and we are very fortunate that he is happy to share those lessons with us with such honesty and openness.
Dr Oliver Liyou graduated from the University of Queensland in 1993 with first class honours. He is the principle veterinarian and owner of Equine Veterinary Dentistry Services, which he started in 2002. He lives and works in South Grafton, northern NSW in Australia on a property with horses, cattle, and his family.
Since 2002 Oliver has co-ordinated and hosted equine dentistry training workshops for vets from all over the world. In 2007 he was the first Australian vet to sit and pass membership exams in Equine Dentistry. He has authored several scientific papers and lectured on equine dentistry throughout Australia and internationally, and regularly publishes articles to raise awareness of welfare in horses. Oliver has also co-designed several equine dental instruments, including the porta safe stocks trailer. (EVDS.net.au.)
But it’s not all been smooth sailing for Oliver. Since graduating as a vet 25 years ago he has survived all of the following: lasting almost 10 years in his first business that he started the day after graduating; a suicide attempt in 2005; a divorce 5 years later; narrowly avoiding bankruptcy, and a business partnership dissolution soon after that.
Despite these setbacks he has emerged happy and balanced, with a good business, and still remains positive about life, his career and the veterinary profession overall.
This discussion is essential listening for many of us. We talk about what success as a vet looks like, the paradox of being exceptional, the importance of learning to say no with a smile and why it’s important to sometimes be shit at stuff.
Oliver talks candidly about his suicide attempt - how to recognise the warning signs that you are in trouble, his journey beyond that period in his life, and how to protect yourself against things ever going this far. He also shares with us his his eight tips for surviving veterinary science.
Please join us, in fact - I urge you to join us, in this ultimately uplifting episode with Dr Oliver Liyou.
#3: Good attitude, great outcomes. Dr Brooke Schampers.The Vet Vault add
When Gerardo first suggested today’s guest to me I must admit that I was slightly sceptical. If our aim with this podcast is to pick the brains of successful people in the veterinary profession to see if they can share some of their acquired wisdom with us, then surely our guests will need years of experience? Or so I thought. Let me assure you that you do NOT need years of experience to have serious focus and have the right mindset.
Dr Brooke Schampers is an emergency veterinarian in Brisbane, Australia - a career that she chose very deliberately, and pursues with passion and positivity. She shares her challenges and what she is learning on her very popular instagram account - doctor_brooke, inspiring and helping thousands of others in the process.
We talk about getting your attitude right to work undesirable shifts, practicing and projecting confidence when you’re not feeling all that confident, how to deal with being a fresh faced vet - in other words how to ensure that clients take you seriously if you look very young, and how to improve your communication skills.
Brooke gives advice on picking and pursuing your dream job, with tips on how to get that all important foot in the door.
No discussion about emergency work would be complete without stories of triumph and failure, and how to deal with the demands of a job that can be very stressful. We’ll discuss some great ideas on how to keep your mind fit to fight another day.
We also delve a bit into the world of social media - the how, the good and the bad.
No matter where you are in your veterinary career - this conversation is guaranteed to motivate and inspire. Please enjoy, and don’t forget to stay tuned for your homework assignment for the week at the end of the episode.
#2: Motivation, making a good start, and having fun. Dr Louisa Graham, aka louisa_the_vetThe Vet Vault add
In today’s episode we chat to a vet who in her relatively short career has managed to encourage and inspire tens of thousands of vets through her popular veterinary instagram account, louisa_the_vet. After our interview I can count myself as one of the many people who have benefited from her infectious enthusiasm.
Dr Louisa Graham is a UK based small animal veterinarian. Because of a childhood that she describes as “surrounded by animals” she always knew that she could only ever be a vet. Since qualifying she has worked in small animal practices across the UK as both practitioner and in managerial and mentoring rolls. She has continued her education while working, gaining a certificate in advanced veterinary practice in small animal medicine after a few years in practice, and at the time of recording she was just about to make a move to a new practice York where she’ll continue her veterinary journey.
We cover a lot of ground in our conversation with Louisa, discussing topics like how she stays motivated, the struggles she faced during her early career, why a good support network is so important and what that network looks like, especially in your first job. And on the topic of first jobs - we talk about finding that right first job and what your future employers care and don’t care about.
Louisa gives advice about managing your expectations, becoming a ‘mini-specialist’, avoiding what she calls ‘the comparison trap’, maintaining perspective and most importantly about having fun.
Please enjoy this conversation with the effervescent and all round lovely Dr Louisa Graham, and when you get to the end - keep listening for our surprise bonus section.
#1: Welcome to the Vet Vault - Gerardo and HubertThe Vet Vault add
In our first episode we take 30 minutes to talk to each other so you can get to know your hosts a bit better and find out what our podcast is all about.