Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Are you a future health leader? Sign up for some multidisciplinary mixing

Batman cohabits with Future Health Leader Rebecca Irwin.

How often do you get together with health professionals in different fields? I’m not talking about other veterinarians so much as health professionals that care for the non-veterinary species – doctors, nurses, speech pathologists, dieticians and so on.

A One Health approach demands that we consider the health and well-being, and impacts of intervention (or not) on humans and the environment, as well as animals. It also demands that we get out of our silos and mix with people from other disciplines.

Future Health Leaders (FHL) is an organisation for students and early career health professionals, including veterinarians, from all across Australia. Their mission is to “work with communities to create better health outcomes for all Australians regardless of gender, culture, background or location.”

I was fortunate enough to join some of their members for dinner last week, and we had some amazing conversations, ranging from the inevitable comparing of how we treat animals versus humans, to the challenges of providing sustainable care to groups with limited access to health or veterinary care, to zoonoses, environmental issues that are likely to impact health (and let’s face it, environment has a major impact on our health and wellbeing already), to talking about collaborative projects. We talked about how sometimes the most productive collaborations are born not from deliberate efforts but informal conversations, issues people develop a shared curiosity about, and pursuing questions that arise over a cup of tea.

If you’re a student or early career animal health professional (and I’m not too certain how early is early!) I would recommend joining this group. Rebecca Irwin, the winner of the FHL Future Leader Award, was a nurse before she enrolled in a medical degree. As she said, and I am paraphrasing shamelessly here as I was eating at the time, “when we graduate we’re expected to work in a multidisciplinary team but we don’t have formal contact with other health professionals like nurses…”

She developed an innovative program to facilitate that contact between medical students and students of other health professions. The program has been incredibly successful. I am certain that future health teams will be more effective because of this initiative.

Not only is Rebecca a person who overcomes obstacles, her dog Batman can do that too – clearing 6ft high fences in one leap!

Batman, looking pretty stoked.
For more information visit Future Health Leaders on facebook or follow @FHLchat on twitter. 

By the way, we're happy to accept contributions to The Vet Cook Book from future health leaders who treat any species. Please email us for directions: vetcookbook[a]