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Four words to help you move forward in your veterinary career.

Posted in Our Community @ Aug 8th 2019 - By Dr Anne Fawcett
Four Words To Help You Move Forward In Your Veterinary Career V2 Red

On the 16th October, there's an awesome 1 day symposium being held in Sydney.

"Four-Words Forwards! is a 1-day workshop promoting wellbeing and tapping into resources we may not know we have. Our speakers will provide bite-sized insights, with a focus on positive action you can take to build resilience and support colleagues." 

Dr Anne Fawcett, one of the organisers, tells us more about the symposium and why you and your team should be there...

In 2017, members of the veterinary profession collaborated, sharing recipes and stories designed to promote collegiality and support. This compilation was The Vet Cookbook, published by the Centre for Veterinary Education. Recipes were tested and edited by Anne Fawcett, Deepa Gopinath, Asti May and Jenna Moss-Davis, and the publication managed by Elisabeth Churchward.

As a graduate I poured myself into my vet career and didn’t think I needed to worry about my own wellbeing – it would take care of itself. Fast forward fifteen years and I know this is not true. To be effective healers we need to look after ourselves. Doctors have realised this, adding self-care to the Declaration of Geneva.

For me the easiest way to explain it is we can’t really be true experts on husbandry if we’re not getting the husbandry of ourselves right or making an effort to do so. Personally, I am not saying I get it right all the time – but I’ve learned I need to try!

Thanks to some amazing sponsors we raised some money through Vet Cookbook sales which we promised would be dedicated to a resource for all members of our profession.

We are holding a one-day symposium with a range of speakers who will give short, practical talks and share their life hacks.

There’s nothing quite like this around, and the feedback about the program has been overwhelmingly positive. I thought it might be helpful to answer some FAQs about the day.

Is it a mental first-aid course?

No. There are some excellent mental health first aid courses available, including those offered through the AVA in conjunction with Mental First Aid Australia. Those important courses help participants learn to recognise and assist colleagues in distress.

Mental wellbeing for veterinary teams is symposium designed to provide participants with a suite of resources to help maintain their wellbeing, deal with the curveballs work and life throw at you, and flourish.

Is it just for vets?

NO! This day is for any member who works within and with veterinary teams. Nurses, practice managers, kennel hands, stable hands, animal health technicians, industry partners – everyone experiences challenges to their well-being, and we want to fill the room with people from every corner of the profession.

There will be some vets speaking, but you will also hear from doctors, psychologists, a police officer, a speech pathologist, those who have left the profession and those who love the profession.

Topics covered include coping, finding meaning in work, beating burnout, sleep, nutrition, inclusion and diversity in the workplace, bullying, and what does self-care actually look like in real life and not on the pages of a self-help book.

So I can bring the whole team?

YES! And that is what we hope people will do. Sure, sign up yourself, but think about bringing a colleague or two. This is affordable because it has been subsidised by the Vet Cookbook funds. So we think it will be worthwhile.

Can students attend?

Yes, and they will receive the discounted rate.

Will it be fun?

Absolutely. Between our sessions, we will be running workshops. The talks are brief – 10-20 minutes – and the focus is on practical, take-home tips. You can network with other delegates, but the venue is spacious, and you can also chillax on your own if you prefer.

What is the dress code?

Wear what makes you feel happy. This day is for you and about you.

Are you compiling another Vet Cookbook?

Not exactly. It was a HUGE project and took a lot more hours (weeks, months) than we had anticipated. However, if you have a recipe or story to share, please don’t feel you have to hold back! We may be able to include these in the resource pages that we are developing. Email

Jenna Moss Davis, Anne Fawcett, Deepa Gopinath and Asti May - The Vet Cookbook Team

Find out more about the Mental Wellbeing for Veterinary Teams Symposium

Information about the Four-Words, Forwards! one day seminar & workshop can be found here...

Images thanks to Pierre Mardaga, My Dog's Territory

About Anne

Anne Fawcett is a companion animal veterinarian, and a lecturer at the Sydney School of Veterinary Science. She is a member by examination in the animal welfare chapter of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists, and is a Diplomate of the European College of Animal Welfare and Behaviour Medicine in Animal Welfare Science, Ethics and Law. She co-authored the book Veterinary Ethics: Navigating Tough Cases with Dr Siobhan Mullan, and is the author of numerous academic publications including peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. Her research interests include animal welfare and ethics. In addition, Anne was co-editor of the Vet Cookbook, an initiative to promote mental wellbeing in veterinarians, nurses and others working with animals.



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