Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Riptide Project: helping our profession, one cuppa at a time

cuppa, tea set, riptide project

Imagine being able to debrief over a cuppa with a veterinarian who gets it? Or gaining an insight into the career trajectories of others? The Riptide Project, established by New Zealand veterinary student Vicki
Lim provides just that. They’re looking for stories, and veterinarians – anywhere in the world – who are prepared to share their wisdom over a cuppa with other veterinarians.

Vicki explains how it works here.

How did you get the idea for The Riptide Project?

The Riptide Project currently exists in two forms. One is the sharing of stories from veterinary professionals from all over the world. The other is the “cuppa” register where veterinary professionals can get in touch to either give or receive a cuppa.

I was initially working on a different veterinary mental health initiative. I left when it began to take on a more profit-driven direction, as that didn’t sit well with my personal views on improving mental health in the veterinary profession. I was already slated to speak at WSAVA 2017 in Copenhagen so had to come up with something else on the fly, so I looked towards my previous experience in the industry. 

As a vet student, one of the things I really enjoyed was getting out and seeing practice and interacting with the vets and nurses. So many people in our profession have such diverse and valuable experiences. I wanted to share these insights with other veterinary professionals in the hope that it would strike a chord with them, or provide a perspective that they would not have otherwise experienced.

I’ve very thankful for the support of Hill’s Pet Nutrition NZ, Boehringer Ingelheim NZ, and Massey University, for their generous help in bringing The Riptide Project into being. I wouldn’t have been able to do this on my own!

How does it work?

I have an informal chat with the vets and nurses you see on the page. It usually takes an hour or so, and I try not to ask any pointed questions – I prefer to let the people ramble and share their stories. The conversations are recorded and transcribed, so it’s easier for me to be mindful while I speak with these veterinary professionals, rather than try and remember verbatim what they’re saying. I upload a selection of quotes with photos – a good number are shot in film, to keep it old school and even more intimate.

As for the cuppa register, veterinary professionals usually write to The Riptide Project directly, or the learn about it from the website at

To date, we have had way more people willing to give their time and a cuppa to a fellow veterinary professional than people who have written in to ask for one, but we’re hoping to change that and get some cuppa buddies going!

Have you had many people sign up and are you looking for more?

The interest in people who are keen to help out has been really heart-warming, but we are definitely still looking for more!! It’d be fantastic to get this off the ground and to a point where these veterinary professionals who want to help their colleagues are able to do so easily. So if anyone who is reading this needs a listening ear, or who wants to be one, we want you!

How do you think vets and nurses can help each other?

I think the dynamics of each vet/nurse relationship really differs, so it’s hard to generalise. But some of the best vet/nurse relationships I know of involve experienced mentors devoting time and attention to fresh graduates, highly skilled nurses who are able to pre-empt vets’ needs, and enable them to perform their duties efficiently (and vice versa), and vets/nurses who are just great mates. 

I once asked a vet and nurse together what helps them to cope with the stresses of the job, and they both pointed at each other and said “her”. Having a supportive workplace and colleagues is essential, and I think the sooner we come to the realisation that we are all one big team, the better.

For more information, visit, check out their facebook page or follow on Instagram: theriptideproject