Well what a year this has been! When I think back to just over 12 months ago, I had no concept of what the latter part of 2019 and 2020 would hold for me and the VetPrac team. But one thing for sure at the centre of my world and my decision making process has been affinity, generated by human connection and communication.

Through connections and friendships in August 2019, I met the amazing Dr Ilana Mendels, who had decided to sell her beloved VetPrac. Ilana created and ran VetPrac for over a decade and she just felt the time was right to sell her “baby” believing that VetPrac was now a teenager and ready to mature into its next stage of life, under somebody else’s ownership and direction. Ilana is now a firm friend, and we met because she decided to sell her business…I wonder how many people can claim that they started a new friendship with the seller of their new business!!

And since then the connections for me have just kept on flowing. In March we had to rethink and diversify because Covid put our core mission of hands-on workshops to bridge the gap between learning and doing, on hold. So we acquired a Zoom platform, and began our journey into online learning titled “Learn with Margie Clinical Zoom Rounds”. I have been inspired by our Zoom Rounds because they have reconnected me with friends, people I graduated with 30 years ago, and other colleagues, through a shared experience in an environment rich with expertise and knowledge of clinical practice. This has also given me and VetPrac the opportunity to forge new connections and friendships.

In April, I also reconnected with a former student and friend in Canada, and we ended up running a course for Canadian vets, techs and nurses. As part of spreading the word about this course, I reached out to several veterinary bodies in Canada and the USA, including the American Veterinary Technician Association (AVTA). My one off Facebook message to the AVTA set in motion reconnection with a wonderful friend and colleague, Darci Palmer. Darci wears many hats, and one of them is being on the organising team of the Veterinary Anesthesia Nerds Facebook page, which now has over 51,000 followers! Catching up with Darci was like a breath of fresh air as well as a trip down memory lane, because we worked together for 6 years at Washington State University (WSU) in the early 2000’s. We were also pregnant at the same time, which was certainly a topic of much banter in the WSU teaching hospital, with two members of the team walking around with pregnant bellies and wearing obnoxious gas masks! Our sons were born a day apart, and recently they turned 15 in two different hemispheres. The internet, the Zoom platform, and evolving technology has facilitated this reconnection which may have never happened in days gone by.

And my final connection story is about the circuitous journey of my own multiparameter monitor! The University of Queensland team runs a valuable spey/neuter program in collaboration with AMRRIC (Animal Management in Rural & Remote Indigenous Communities) at Cherbourg in October every year. I donated my monitor to this team and this incredibly worthwhile cause to use on an annual basis to facilitate best practice for anaesthesia in this spey/neuter program. When I bought VetPrac in October 2019, I realised that there was a whole lot of potential for using my monitor for demonstrations at in house workshops. So, rather than reneging on the deal, I decided to donate my monitor for 2 weeks a year to the UQ/AMMRIC team.

Then Covid hit.

So my monitor was in lockdown in the Cherbourg community for a number of months. The talented Dr Bonny Cumming, program manager for AMMRIC, picked my monitor up when the restrictions lifted, and a family friend of Bonny’s, Jeannie Barton, delivered the monitor to me in Ipswich.

When I met Jeannie to collect my monitor, she was also connecting with a colleague who is part of her non-profit organisation, “The Loanialu Health Clinic – supporting communities, families and births”: A medical health clinic located in Loanialu, Tanna Island, Vanuatu. Jeannie Barton is a registered nurse and is both founder and director of this clinic. Jeannie and her team raise funds for the clinic by producing, among other things, triple layer facemasks from donated material, made by skilled volunteer seamsters from Ipswich. This has been a really valuable connection for VetPrac. We are placing an order to change all of our masks over to sustainable and reusable ones, which fits with our sustainable mission. At the same time we will be benefiting this non-profit organisation doing very good work, providing medical help and health care to Tanna Island residents in Vanuatu. Just magnificent.

Connection and communication across my life and particularly in the last year, has been a truly extraordinary and uplifting experience. The opportunities I have experienced have been amazing and the human connection has been impressive.

Who have you connected with lately?

Why don’t you share your surprising re-connection story with us?