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#46: Solutions, Not Problems, with Dr Justin Ward,

Dr Justin Ward is a veterinarian and practice owner from the Gold Coast in Australia. He grew up in South Africa where he studied veterinary science before heading to the UK for a 5 years stint of locuming and travelling, eventually putting down roots in Australia. 

After 4 more years of working as an employed vet, he had his first crack at practice ownership. In this episode, Justin shares his experience and the lessons learnt from when this first venture didn’t go according to plan. But it was with his second attempt at ownership that fate took him to all the right places. Fast forward 9 years, and he is now the co-owner of a thriving practice that has gone from 1 vet and 1 and a half nurses to 9 vets and 22 staff, plus a stint as the AVA’s brach committee president. We dig into Justin’s views on what makes a good practice, what a good partnership looks like, and how to find the balance of financial sustainability without sacrificing your values. 

Beyond his own practice, Justin is also actively involved in trying to bring about sensible positive changes to make our profession better. In our conversation, we pick at the loose threads of the multiple issues that vets around the world are facing to see if we can unravel some solutions, and Justin gives some very solid insights on the stories we tell ourselves and the many GOOD things about being a vet. 

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Go to for the show notes and to check out our guests’ favourite books, podcasts and everything else we talk about in the show.

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#Compounding: Everything you need to know about veterinary compounding

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Other than conundrums around the legalities of labelling and wondering if you’re allowed to stock any compounded meds for ’emergency use’, drug compounding is probably not something that most of us give a lot of thought to. You pick a dose, write a script, and your patient gets what they need, right? Right? 

But what about quality? Does someone regulate what goes into the meds you prescribe? And can we be sure that the active ingredients are ‘active’ – are they doing what they’re supposed to? Surely someone checks that?! One version of drug X is the same as another, right? 

 Fear not – we have you covered. Gerardo and Hubert recently facilitated a group discussion and QnA session about exaclty these questions. This episode is the result of that session and answers all the questions you’ve (n)ever asked about veterinary compounding. (Including how to label them!)

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#45: 6 Second Hugs and Other Resilience Tools with Dr Hannetjie Van Zyl-Edeling

Dr Hannetjie Van Zyl-Edeling is a counselling psychologist, mediator, author and artist, amongst other things. You’ll know that our goal at the Vet Vault is to help you create a sustainable and thriving life around your veterinary career. This is exactly why we HAD to speak to Hannetjie, because she believes that we can use our minds to help create our best life and find meaning, even in challenging circumstances. (And let’s face it – even the dream veterinary career will throw plenty of challenges your way!)

Hannetjie is in private practice and holds workshops and talks for the public and professionals about preventive nutrition, stress, eating disorders, positive living and ageing, ethics and spiritual living. She’s featured regularly on television and radio and advises journalists on preventive nutrition, stress, ethics, spiritual living and positive ageing. Her mission is to assist people in managing their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves in such a way as to grow and reach their fullest potential.

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Does it drive you crazy how you’ll sometimes look at an X-ray image and you don’t see anything significant, but then you send it to a radiologist and they come up with a long list of important things!? How do they do it?! Well, a lot of it is practice, but here’s a secret – a lot of it is also just good technique. And these are techniques you can easily apply in your practice to take great images and interpret them like the pros. 

We did a series on tips for rads of the acute abdomen over on the Vet Vault Clinical, but rather than tell us which abnormalities to look for, our guest radiologist, Dr Steve Joslyn, started off by telling us HOW to look, and how to make sure you great images. Enjoy!

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#44: The C Word with Dr Penny Thomas

Dr Penny Thomas’ career has taken her from working as a nurse in a specialist clinic while she was doing her vet degree, to a stint in mixed practise after graduating from the University of Sydney in 2011, and all the way to gaining registration as a Specialist in Veterinary Oncology in 2019.  Penny is a member of the Veterinary Cancer Society and has also obtained her Memberships of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in small animal medicine. She has a keen interest in haematological cancers and has published papers on multiple myeloma, anal sac cancer in cats and chemotherapy for T cell lymphoma in dogs, and is a regular participant in continuing education talks to general practitioners. 

On her journey to becoming a specialist Penny did a 2-year internship programme followed by a residency at SASH in Sydney. During her training, she spent time at Colorado State University, the University of Madison Wisconsin, The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and the Animal Health Trust in the UK. 

And it’s this part of her career – the internship years – where we start our conversation with Penny. She talks us through the decision-making process around whether doing an internship is for you, and gives us advice on what to look for in a good internship programme, and how to choose the RIGHT internship programme. 

As usual, the conversation strays into all sorts of interesting places, like masochistic work cultures where working crazy hours is worn like a badge of honour, helping your clients make end-of-life decisions for their animals, and we talk about the risk of having pre-conceived ideas around what is best for our patients without giving our clients ALL of the options and making decisions for them.  And of course, we have to dig into what it’s like being a veterinary oncologist – all the good and all the bad and all the stuff that you probably didn’t know. 

If you like listening to Penny then you should definitely check out the oncology series that we’re doing with her over on the medicine stream on The Vet Vault Clinical. We started with a 3 part series on mast ell tumours that has answered all of the questions I’ve had for decades about these often tricky cancers, including a run-down of all the newest therapies that are becoming available to us.  

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#Urethral Stones! Yes its a thing! with Dr Dave Collins

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Welcome back to another one of our clinical episodes. I decided to share this one today because of a case I dealt with just this morning. We had a cat in hospital with what was thought to be acute renal failure, but what turned out to be a ureteral obstruction. That’s ureTEral, not urethral. Seeing this case reminded me how dangerous this disease is, and how easily it can be missed. So I thought I’d share this episode that we recently did on the topic with our resident medicine specialist, Dr Dave Collins. The thing is – until we did this interview with Dave, ureteral obstructions just wasn’t on my radar, but we’re learning that it’s apparently more common than we think it is. Probably because we’ve been missing them. 

If this comes as a surprise to you then I recommend you plug in and let Dave tell you everything you need to know about ureteral obstructions: from spotting them, to diagnosing them, and all the way to how to fix them. 

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