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Podcasts offer an easily accessible opportunity for learning and entertainment, so it’s not surprising that several veterinarians have added a podcaster string to their bow. Dr Phil Tucak reports
Veterinary and animal care podcasts are proving a hit with the veterinary community and general public.
Having developed in response to the evolution of the internet, podcasts are generally free and offer an episodic downloadable audio offering with subjects and hosts to suit every taste.
Whether you’re seeking clinical insights, personal enlightenment and tips on capturing that elusive work-life balance, or are simply interested in hearing more about what other veterinarians and industry members are getting up to, it’s likely there’s a veterinary podcast to suit your needs.
The Vet Vault
Queensland-based veterinarians Dr Hubert Hiemstra and Dr Gerardo Poli, both share a background in emergency medicine and an interest in discovering how to build a balanced and fulfilled life—so they started their Vet Vault podcast to help other vets achieve their best both professionally and outside of work as well.
“Our podcast is targeted at veterinarians. We wanted to showcase veterinarians from across the profession who are happy in their vet careers to try and bring more positivity to what we felt was often a fair amount of negativity amongst vets,” explains Dr Hiemstra, co-host of The Vet Vault podcast. “Common topics we cover on our podcast are the career journeys of different vets, highlighting different career options in the profession and ways of thinking about some of the challenges that vets face on their journey towards a happy, fulfilled and balanced career.”
Having been on the airwaves for two years, episodes of their program drop about every 10 days, with standard episodes running for just over an hour, and shorter clinical episodes lasting 20 to 30 minutes.
“The Vet Vault started as a way to engage with veterinarians to interview them for what I thought would be a book about veterinary careers, after realising that vets don’t have time to reply to emails,” Dr Hiemstra says. “What strikes me most is how people will struggle to make the time to draft a 10-minute email but will happily chat to you on a podcast for two hours. I soon realised that I love the medium, so from there it became a passion project and a gift to the profession, but with an unintended benefit of building fantastic contacts and friendships. Our clinical series is an attempt at creating an income-generating business using the skills that I’ve learnt.”
Veterinary Podcast by the VetGurus
For another veterinary podcasting duo, it was a passion for teaching and education that set them on the path to creating a regular podcast, the Veterinary Podcast by the VetGurus. Victorian veterinarian Dr Brendan Carmel and Dr Mark Simpson from NSW have together been producing a weekly 30-60 minute podcast for the past three years.
“We thought a podcast on exotic pet medicine and surgery, with a conversational style would be good to try—so we started it, and it has grown from there,” Dr Carmel says. “We very much look forward to each episode—as a chance to catch up each week, debrief about our week’s activity, and have a laugh—and possibly provide some useful information to vets, aspiring vets, vet nurses and vet technicians.”
Given the highly accessible nature of podcasts, listeners can be from literally anywhere on earth as Drs Carmel and Simpson have discovered. “Our stats show we currently have listeners in 114 countries,” Dr Carmel says. “A surprising number of our subscribers are located in Kazakhstan. We thought this was someone using a VPN service, or possibly Borat wanting to be a vet; however we received a lovely email from a listener located there, who explained that there is a fairly large group of North American expatriate veterinarians living there who love the podcast.
“I think one reason we appear to be popular is our conversational style and gentle humour—with several listeners stating it’s like listening to two vets chatting over a drink or two at the pub after work.”
Two Vets Talk Pets
Victorian veterinarians Dr Lewis Kirkham and Dr Robbie Anderton have developed their weekly Two Vets Talk Pets podcast with a slightly broader target audience, catering to anyone involved with pets including pet owners, breeders, trainers, groomers, veterinary nurses, veterinary technicians and veterinarians.
“We’ve been running three years, and we like to recap our week in general practice with anecdotes—any funny, interesting, successful, or difficult cases or clients,” Dr Kirkham says. “We also discuss any recent animal-related topics in the news, and we then have a main pet-based topic.
“We both have further veterinary qualifications; me in animal behaviour and Robbie in small animal medicine so our topics are often based around these areas of veterinary practice. Every month or so we have an in-depth interview with a veterinary specialist, or a roving interview at a local conference or pet expo.”
Setting up to become a podcaster is surprisingly simple says Dr Hiemstra of The Vet Vault. “It’s a fantastically low bar of entry. In very simple terms you could launch a podcast with a hundred-dollar USB microphone and a laptop at no additional cost. But when it comes to fine-tuning it—learning about editing, marketing, researching the guests—it can very easily be a full-time job.”
Interestingly, everyone interviewed said how much they value the medium for its ability to benefit the mental health and wellbeing of their listeners, proven by the array of positive feedback received.
“While we didn’t consciously set out to raise awareness of mental health issues in the veterinary profession, we do hope that we have normalised many difficult conversations,” says Dr Kirkham of Two Vets Talk Pets.
Dr Hiemstra echoes the sentiment. “We’ve had many vets contact us to say that they take great encouragement for their own journeys from our guests, and I’ve even had a non-veterinary member of the public tell me how much she loves it and that because of all the empathy that she feels from our guests that she now is considering a career in animal care.”