#105: Work hard, play hard, be kind. (And think twice before you prescribe antibiotics!) With Dr Jane Heller.

Dr Jane Heller is the epitome of a multi-faceted vet career: she’s a Veterinary Epidemiologist with an interest is in infectious disease epidemiology, with particular reference to antimicrobial resistance and the potential for zoonotic transfer of pathogens between animals and humans. Her career has included a stint in private practice and at the University of Sydney, specialist training in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health through a PhD and a residency at the University of Glasgow, and a faculty position at Charles Sturt University as an Associate Professor in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health. In addition to her teaching, writing and research Jane also implemented a wellness program for the undergraduate veterinary students and has a deep interest in supporting student and veterinary mental health. Outside of her role at the university she is also the founder and director of Heller Consulting – her private consulting business where she gets to utilise her wide range of skills for the benefit of animals and humans. 

In this conversation we cover what a career as an epidemiologist could look like (not as boring as you might think!), and Jane tells us about the work of the AMR Vet Collective – a non-for profit that informs and educates around responsible antibiotic usage, including sharing resources to help you achieve better antimicrobial stewardship without making your work life harder or compromising outcomes for your patients. We discuss how to affect behaviour change, whether its around how vets use antibiotics, or getting vet students and veterinary teams to care about their wellbeing. Jane also shares openly about how her work in the student wellness space challenged her personally, and what she learned from those challenges. (Oh, and we unpack the deeper lessons from Ted Lasso, which we could do an entire podcast series on!)

Topic List:

10:00 Epidemiology is essential in healthcare.

14:50 Communication is always key.

21:34 Importance of antibiotic stewardship.

32:41 Awareness of responsible antibiotic use.

35:37 Change is difficult but necessary.

39:10 Changing antibiotic prescribing.

44:21 Behaviour change requires tailored messaging.

52:43 Supporting student wellness is crucial.

60:00 Facilitating and empowering employee engagement.

63:00 Prioritise work-life balance and fun.

70:09 Importance of promoting kindness in education.

74:24 Empathy fosters understanding and support.

79:30 Importance of setting boundaries.

84:30 Normalise seeking counselling and support. 


“The more that people are able to connect, the more protected they are.”

“I can’t think of a time where a student turned up into my office in tears (and there were a lot of times where they did), that I didn’t suggest that they work less and play more.”


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