#93: Reasonable residencies, success through self-knowledge, and filling buckets. With Dr Anna Dengate


Have you ever considered, or are considering specialising, but you are put off by the journey of becoming a specialist? Usually the path to specialising means putting almost everything else aside for 3-5 years. But what if there was a different way? 

Dr Anna Dengate is a medicine specialist, and she’s convinced that there could be an alternative path, and in this conversation she helps us to explore what that could look like. Anna’s own career journey hasn’t quite followed the the norm. After graduating from Sydney Uni in 2008 her path has meandered its way through several roles: intern, wife, resident, PhD candidate, GP vet, Member of ANZCVS, mum of 1, founding partner in a specialist hospital, Fellow of the ANZCVS, mum of 2, and resident supervisor. Most recently, Anna has been providing specialist medical and ultrasound services to GPs through her business The Vet’s North. She also provides ongoing learning opportunities to wider groups of vets with teaching in ultrasound & online medical rounds, and has a new social impact project under development & is working on ways to integrate people with disabilities & traumatic backgrounds into the animal-care industry to increase diversity & inclusion. 

Join in for a conversation around what more inclusive residencies could look like, how Anna made it happen for herself, the importance of getting to know yourself for creating a career pathway that fills your bucket, finding the balance between pushing yourself enough for growth without reaching breaking point, and much much more.

Topic list:

03:37 The relative rarity of female veterinary specialists with children.

04:16 Anna’s journey through qualification, specialisation & having kids.

08:09 Having a newborn while studying.

11:59 Being prepared to fail.

13:38 Are institutions more supportive for part-time residencies now? 

14:30 The barrier to specialising: to be a specialist or have a family?

15:05 Is specialising worth it?

16:31 More on barriers – from vet to specialist, the system is set up wrong.

18:18 Why can’t we do it part-time?

20:18 The culture in specialist clinics that does not prioritise balance.

24:42 Givers, Takers & Matchers – who is the most successful?

25:56 The difference between successful vs unsuccessful Givers.

26:44 Can we change the profession & it’s lack of boundaries, or is it up to us to know ourselves & our limits?

29:04 Coasting vs striving.

33:10 The benefits of making mistakes & getting to know yourself.

37:17 Negativity bias & how it affects the resilience in the vet industry.

48:37 Focussing on the positives & building resilience.

50:54 How empathy plays a role in resilience.

51:22 Empathy vs compassion – is empathy a bad thing?

53:47 Compassion fatigue vs burnout.

59:50 The connection between teaching & bureaucracy.

62:30 What’s Anna excited about in the vet world?

67:49 Anna’s education programs.

71:56 Anna’s favourite podcasts.

73:28 How would Anna’s career look different if she knew the things she knows now?

74:52 Anna’s advice for new grads.


Book – Givers and Takers By Adam Grant: https://www.qbd.com.au/give-and-take/adam-grant/9781780224725/

Book – The Resilience Project by Hugh van Cuylenburg: https://www.amazon.com.au/Resilience-Project-Happiness-Gratitude-Mindfulness/dp/1760892777/

Book – Buckets, Dippers and Lids by Carol McCloud: https://www.booktopia.com.au/buckets-dippers-and-lids-glenn-zimmer/book/9781945369018.html


“What differentiates the successful giver from an unsuccessful giver is their boundaries. If they set clear boundaries and don’t push them, they’re gonna be as successful as a taker, but much better liked.”

“The way that you learn about yourself is you put yourself in situations that challenge you and then you go, ‘Well, that didn’t work well’ or ‘That did work well’, and ‘Maybe I’ll go down that path next time.'”


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