I started the VPHMgt in 2003 with the first cohort, 5 months after I arrived in Australia from my home in The Netherlands. Prior to immigration, I had my own veterinary practice, working with small and zoo animals, but had always had the goal of doing something more scientific in the future. When I started the program, I was working in a small animal practice in Sydney and saw the program as an opportunity to develop the skills I would need to pursue a more scientific career.
My spoken English was good when I started the program, but I found that sometimes Australian animal health professionals spoke with a lot of jargon and acronyms that made the first residential very confusing. I completed the MVPHMgt within 2 years. When I graduated I was already stressing about my next exam - the ACVSc Epidemiology exam, which I passed in the following July together with a number of other students from the VPHMgt program. As we studied regularly, we found we only needed 3-4 months of preparation and were all successful.
Six months into my VPHMgt study, I successfully applied for a position as a technical services manager at Fort Dodge Australia. I believe one of the reasons I got the job was my study in the VPHMgt program.
I have used the program extensively while at work - my dissertation was based on a project I did for Fort Dodge Australia, with their support. Some of the current trials I am doing are based on things I learned through the course. For the company as a whole, not just in Australia, I have noticed that epidemiology has become increasingly important, particularly for pharmaco-vigilance.
In my current position as a technical services veterinarian covering Australia and New Zealand, I have been doing a lot of presentations across Australia and in SE Asia and have had some quite new and challenging projects. As a result of my success in the company for the past 3.5 years, I was invited to apply for a new position within the organisation. As a result, I will shortly move to Princeton, New Jersey as a principal lead scientist in a pharmaceutical development plant. One of the prerequisites for the job was formal training in epidemiology.
I have also drawn on skills developed through my study of project management, leadership, policy development and on diseases that were formerly unknown to me. It also helped me enormously in networking, in getting to know people in different levels of administration and understanding how the different levels of veterinary services work in Australia, which is quite different to The Netherlands. This is an excellent course in helping me find my position in Australia as a veterinarian and establish myself within public health. I also find the student network especially valuable when study became difficult, and am grateful for support from fellow students Luzia Rast and Ian Langstaff.
I am looking forward to my new position, but will leave Australia with pain in my heart, as I love living here. I am looking forward to making the job work and using the skills that I have partly obtained through the MVPHMgt and to further extend my knowledge.
Technical Services Manager, Fort Dodge Australia
I work in the Office of the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer. My work involves a wide range of duties associated with emergency animal disease preparedness and international animal health standard setting. I manage the program that ensures that Australia meets its obligations as a member of the World Organisation for Animal Health. I work in a team that develops policies and programs to support Australia’s preparedness, such as AUSVETPLAN (Australia’s Veterinary Emergency Plan) and the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement. This team also provides advice during emergency animal disease responses.
The skills required for my job include communication skills, both oral and written; liaison and networking skills; knowledge of Australia’s animal health status and animal diseases of concern; knowledge of major animal diseases of international significance (zoonoses in particular); policy development skills; understanding of epidemiology, import risk assessment and emergency management principles; ability to meet deadlines; and time management.
Working in DAFF has given me the opportunity to develop a range of management skills and also enabled me to see another side of veterinary science i.e. the vital role it plays in human health and welfare, both through providing high quality, affordable protein and through preventing zoonotic disease at its source in animals.
Because there is a policy of ongoing professional development, I have been encouraged to undertake study in areas that are relevant to work but also of interest to me.
Finishing my Masters in Veterinary Public Health Management is one of my goals for 2008! And putting the learning from the program into practice in the workplace; in particular the leadership and change management skills.
Veterinary Officer, DAFF
Based on partial completion of this degree, after 14 years out of the workforce, I was hired as the project lead for a Poultry Disease Surveillance Project. I am working with the industry to establish a surveillance system that incorporates producer entered production data, and data submitted by vets on their case work.
I routinely call on the project management skills I learned, and the surveillance and risk analysis courses I took provide the foundation for what we are doing and why.
Managing the people is not one of my innate skills, and for that I frequently turn to the leadership materials for the basic principles and ideas. Understanding that the people side of the job is most of the job means that I don’t resent all the meetings and coordination that are required to set the stage for the actual project goals.
Consulting Surveillance Veterinarian, Alberta Agriculture and Food
On-going education and training is a part of life for all veterinarians, and for those thinking of moving from clinical practice into a different field, the decision to undertake post-graduate university training is an important consideration. Although there are a growing number of courses out there, I struggled initially to find one that provided the breadth of skills required for working in the public sector. The decision to begin the Master’s degree in Veterinary Public Health Management from the University of Sydney proved to be one of my better career decisions as this course truly lives up to its vision of being “An innovative world-class program, training veterinary public health leaders”.
This training has provided me with the skills and confidence to pursue many exciting opportunities. Initially this led to work as an exotic animal disease investigator at the National Centre for Biosecurity and Infectious Disease with the New Zealand government, using the technical training taught in the masters program, such as, epidemiology. The applied management and leadership skills, however, proved to be the real catalyst that led me over the following five years to undertake several UN FAO missions to Viet Nam, secondments to the UK government during the 2007 FMD outbreak and the New Zealand Ministry of Health during the 2009 pandemic influenza outbreak. I also began assisting INTERPOL’s biological terrorism preparedness team during this time as a subject matter expert on agricultural terrorism and continue in this role today with varied missions across the globe to help train security forces in this area.
In 2010, I moved to Alberta, Canada to take up the role of Assistant Chief Provincial Veterinarian. During this time this role has evolved, initially to managing the epidemiology team to now leading the Animal Health Branch comprising 35 professionals across the province. This year I’ve also been able to give back to the education system by taking on an adjunct Professorship at the new veterinary faculty at Calgary University.
I’ve talked to literally hundreds of veterinary professionals across the globe about post graduate training options and I still have not found a more practical and applied course of study for those wishing to take their veterinary career to a new level. I would strongly encourage anyone considering a move into veterinary public health management to consider this Master’s programme at the University of Sydney.
Animal Health Branch Head and Deputy Chief Provincial Veterinarian, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Canada
I am in the Non-ruminants and zoo animal section of Biosecurity Australia, in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)in Canberra. The most important aspect of our job is policy advice to AQIS in relation to import and export of live animals and animal products.
I am also involved in policy reviews, import risk analyses (IRA)
which are predominantly pre-border areas. Currently I am working on a review of our import conditions of dogs and cats into Australia in relation to rabies. This involves extensive background research, literature reviews and then re-assessment of our current conditions to determine changes to quarantine, testing procedures and other important aspects of policy.
I am also working on our import conditions for live horses into Australia in relation to Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM).
The course has been extremely useful as I have been able to apply the skills in leadership, people and organisations to many areas of my work. A large workplace such as DAFF not only has a diversity of people across many areas but also has considerable contact with stakeholders from state and territory governments, industry, interest groups as well as international counterparts and importers. Having the essential skills of understanding organisations through culture, values and work systems enables me to interact with them across many levels. I feel more confident in understanding my work preferences and have been able to improve my interactions and awareness of how the organisation functions. It has also allowed me to interact with my fellow Masters colleagues who have been excellent in contribution through discussion groups through to being great contacts across many areas of Veterinary Public Health.
Personally I hope to learn a great deal more about public health from different perspectives in private practice through to high level government involvement. I really look forward to continuing the interaction and dialogue with my masters colleagues who have challenged my thinking, been involved in some really interesting discussions and have taught me a lot about people not just about the areas of interest. I hope to be able to use this Masters course to broaden my knowledge and interest in Veterinary Public Health such that I can increase the connection between private and public sectors and to contribute greatly to the exciting field of public health. I am keen to make a firm commitment to DAFF as it is a rewarding, challenging yet supportive career which has great opportunities across many areas.
Finally I hope to encourage anyone, not just in the areas of Veterinary Public Health, but more importantly people in other areas who wish to be involved in a great area of our profession. It is an emerging and interactive field with innovation and broad areas of application. The MVPHMgt is an excellent course to provide the skills needed to be involved in this area of veterinary science. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Veterinary Officer, Biosecurity Australia, DAFF