Dr Abbie Tipler worked in general practice for over 10 years before starting her surgical residency at Veterinary Specialist Services in Australia. She has worked in New Zealand, Australia and London where she was born. In 2010 she achieved her Memberships in Small Animal Surgery and was subsequently chosen to examine in this discipline and went on to become head subject examiner. She has previously served on the ANZCVS Small Animal Surgery chapter committee. Abbie regularly attends surgical conferences including Science week, ACVS, BVOA and VOS. She currently runs a Facebook Group ‘Small Animal Surgery Discussion Page’ that includes thousands of Veterinarians from around the world including many surgical specialists. Her goal with this initiative is to help new graduate vets and vets in remote areas who may not have access to good case advice.
She now lives in Saint Lucia, Brisbane with her husband Luke and two children Ashton (4) and Maddison-Rose (3). In her spare time she enjoys running and regularly runs half marathons.
Tell us about a daily habit or routine you practice that contributes to your productivity and fulfilment?
I try to start each day with a positive attitude. I take a moment to remind myself that today is going to be a great day. I don’t ruminate on what happened yesterday.
What was a major setback that you learnt the most from, or actually turned out to be a success?
I was told by a series of people that becoming a surgical specialist would be too hard combined with motherhood. Then someone told me to stop talking to people who had opinions who were not uplifting. This was good advice for me. My advice is not to let one or two negative opinions stifle your road to success. Talk to lots of people about your career options, especially mentors who inspire you.
When you start to doubt your own ability, or are having 'a bad day at the office', how do you get back on track? Can you give us an example?
I remind myself that every day is different. A day (or week) of feeling like a failure, can be followed by a day of feeling like a success. It is the very nature of our profession.
I have learnt the skill of mindfulness. It allows me to focus my attention. There are many books and many apps about mindfulness. This mental tool has given me a huge strategic advantage. My advice is to learn it!
As a perfectionist, I used to doubt my own ability every day. Being able to identify this insecure feeling has helped it to not turn into anxiety. I was eventually able to identify some of my weaknesses, and turn them into strengths.
What have you got better at saying no to? How did you realise this and how has it benefited you?
I have never been good at this. I have always liked to be busy and have made the most of opportunities that have come my way. However, I have realised saying no is something that is essential. If things are becoming overwhelming, it may be time to scale back on a few things.
If you could gift a book to all vets at graduation, what would it be, and why? (It doesn't have to be specific to animal health!)
Blackwell’s 5 minute Veterinary Consult. I couldn’t have survived my first few months in practice without this.
Tell us about something you are currently a fan of? This could be anything; a trend, hypothesis, mindset, diet, activity, tech, career etc.
Quitting sugar. My view is that sugar is not your friend. I sometimes lapse but generally I have cut out 90% of sugar. It has made a huge difference to my energy levels and overall health. ‘I quit sugar’ was one of many good books on this topic.
What purchase of less than £100 has most positively impacted your life in the last 12 months?
A goals pinboard. Mine is divided up into ‘next 12 months’, ‘2-3 years’, ‘4-6 years’ and >6 years in one column and career, financial, family/friends, relationship, fitness/health, community, hobbies, personal growth and bucket list on the other. This helps me to find balance, set goals and work out what is important to me. It allows me to dedicate time to the important things. I have always liked the saying ‘stop doing things you don’t want to do in time you don’t have with people you don’t like’.
What advice would you give veterinary graduates about to begin their careers?
This may be the most simple advice ever given, but I highly recommend smiling. Smile at your nurses when you walk in the door. If a client has been left waiting and is highly agitated, this can be 100% reversed by walking into the waiting room and giving them a genuine smile. I try to start every single consult with a smile. Not only is it a proven benefit to your mental health, but a smile is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart J
What is the worst bit of advice you hear regularly in our profession? Why do you feel it is bad advice?
‘Just give it a crack’. For me this has led to stress and heartache on several occasions. I recommend being honest with yourself, doing your research, asking for help, working hard, billing properly (very important!!) these are the things you can do to be a good employee, not working outside of your comfort zone.
If you could send a single text to every vet around the world simultaneously, what would it say? This can be one word, a message or an entire paragraph.
Keep learning. Learn from everyone you can at every opportunity. Be kind to your colleagues, I believe this is very important.