World Veterinary Day, which took place on 30 April, is a day about celebratingthe crucial work veterinarians do in supporting animal health, animal welfare,people, and the environment.

The theme for World Veterinary Day this year was ‘Strengthening VeterinaryResilience’ – a timely reminder of the unprecedented strain the veterinaryindustry has felt over the past two years, and the extraordinary role thesector played in the pandemic response.

According to research conducted by Animal Medicines Australia, the pandemicsaw pet ownership numbers increase by nearly 20 per cent. The veterinaryprofession also had to quickly pivot to provide contactless consultations andtelehealth services. On top of the many challenges associated with thepandemic, the profession also faced bushfires and floods.

Further to this, research into veterinary mental health showed that 66.6 percent of respondents said they either have experienced or currently areexperiencing a mental health condition, five per cent higher than the nationalaverage.

Throughout all this, veterinarians have continued to keep the animals of thiscountry safe.

Pet Industry News wants to hero the visibility and inspiration of WorldVeterinary Day, so we’re launching a series of profiles on vets from aroundthe country, in the hope that we can raise awareness for the challenges theyface and pass on advice to the next generation of veterinarians.

This week we speak to Dr Diana Barker, the director and co-founder of Evervet,a veterinary practice group in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. Dr Barker is alsocurrently on the Australian Veterinary Associations (AVA) board of directors.

Pet: What kind of places has your career taken you and what kinds of roleshave led you to where you are now?

Dr Barker: My veterinary career has taken me around the world and backhome again. I have worked in mixed animal practice in Victoria, volunteered ata monkey sanctuary in the Amazon rainforest, spent time teaching students inneutering clinics on the Greek Islands, performed locum work in the UK, andnow settled down to small animal practice in Melbourne.

Once back in Melbourne, my role has had several iterations over the past 10years in the one practice. I have progressed from associate vet to seniorsurgeon after passing my surgical memberships, then became a partner of thepractice in 2014. I completed an MBA in 2019 and took a small step back fromclinical duties in 2021 (I’m still doing surgery 2 days a week). Certainly,all my prior experience has contributed to where I am now, and as I continueto learn, reflect, and grow, who knows where I might end up!

Pet: Have there been any highlights or really defining moments of yourcareer so far?

Dr Barker: There are so many! All the big ones as expected, such aspassing membership exams, becoming a business owner, opening a new veterinarypractice from scratch, and being elected on the AVA board. These bigachievements were career defining and the result of a lot of grit andmotivation as well as genuine interest in the job and the profession. However,there are many smaller ones that are just as important.

These include, finding a great mentor at one of my first jobs, being supportedand appreciated by bosses and colleagues to go for it and creating longlasting and rewarding relationships with clients and teammates. These smallerhighlights are pivotal to providing guidance and enjoyment of work. These arethe things that help you through those tough days and the reasons I have stuckwith this job.

Pet: What do you love about what you do?

Dr Barker: I love that as an owner I can try my hardest to create the bestpossible workplace for our team. I enjoy taking on feedback on how we can makeeveryone’s day better. After working in a variety of workplaces, I know someof the major pressure points!

Pet: What’s next for you – any goals or plans that you hope to achieve overthe next 12 months?

Dr Barker: That’s a big one! I used to think I could just improve ourprofession practice by practice but understand I need to think bigger! With mywork on the AVA board I am looking forward to making some meaningful positivechange to veterinary workplaces and veterinary team well-being through thenext year, as well as bringing a greater awareness to our profession through apublic campaign. Both of these things are crucial for the sustainability ofour profession.

I am also just about to sit down and formulate a strategic plan with the teamat Evervet, so perhaps ask me again in a few months!

Pet: What are some of the biggest challenges facing the pet industry? Howcan the industry work to overcome those?

Dr Barker: The shortage of veterinarians and veterinary nurses is theoverarching issue concerning the industry at the moment. This is such acomplex issue to tackle with many factors coming into play.

Working conditions, remuneration, resilience, transition to work fromUniversity, as well as a global uptick in mental health issues are allcontributing. The industry needs to work together on a plan to improve all ofthese factors and do it collaboratively.

Pet: Do you have any thoughts on how we can work to overcome the nationalvet shortage in Australia?

Dr Barker: I think there are many organisations trying to do their bit inaddressing the shortage. We need to have a summit or similar, to bring theseorganisations together, to collaborate and pool our resources.

The AVA commissioned a comprehensive report which was released in 2021. Thiswould form a great starting point and is directing a lot of the AVA’s effort.

Pet: What advice would you offer to an aspiring veterinarian?

Dr Barker: Being a veterinarian is incredibly rewarding. Every day isdifferent, and no two days are the same. There are so many ways to grow andchange through your career as a veterinarian. There are also so many perks!Working hours are flexible, team members are the most supportive people, andthe clients are mostly wonderful. You can achieve everything you want to as aveterinarian.

Pet: How did you celebrate National Vet Day?

Dr Barker: With lots of cake!

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Tagged: Dr Diana Barker, World Veterinary Day

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