VetPrac is delighted to announce that James will be joining our education team in 2019. James is a final year small animal surgical resident at Veterinary Specialist Services, Carrara, Queensland, and brings a great balance to the team. He believes in constantly challenging oneself in order to improve one’s surgical skills. We think James will be a great partner to assist you in your journey out of that comfort zone that many of us are too scared to venture out of!

Let’s get to know James a little better, before he makes his debut as an educator with VetPrac at the Fine and Fiddly Fractures Workshop at Gatton on 12-13 April 2019.

What inspired you to become a veterinarian and then choose surgery as a specialty?

“I grew up witnessing the passion my father has for the veterinary industry. Once in practice, it was the surgical cases that excited me the most and sparked my interest in pursuing a surgical residency”.

In your opinion, what makes a good workplace?

“A strong and respectful working relationship between all staff which generates both an efficient and fun work environment; a workplace which encourages continuing education and growth and one that encourages a work-life balance”

Your first job as a vet was at VSS Carrara and you’re now doing your surgical residency there. Many vets travel overseas to the UK or USA to do their specialist training. Did you consider relocating overseas to do your specialist training?

“I was always very committed to pursuing a surgical residency and would have happily travelled both interstate and overseas if required. However, I was incredibly lucky (I believe right place right time) to be offered a residency with VSS Carrara, a team I already knew from my internship. I was also very happy that the position came with a huge surgical case load and meant that I did not have to relocate from my home on the Gold Coast, a place which I consider to be paradise.

Australia, UK and US all offer fantastic residency programs, and there are always different advantages to each one. Individual candidates will find themselves better suited to different programs – i.e. private practice vs academic university setting. In my case, I felt a private clinical residency with a fast pace and large case load would suit me better. It is a great team to work with and the case load fulfils my strong interest in minimally invasive surgery, orthopaedics and neurosurgery. As I said though, I was very lucky in this opportunity, and would have happily relocated overseas if the opportunity presented itself.

I was also very lucky in that taking a position with VSS meant remaining in a location that is close to family, friends (and beach) and has thereby allowed me to maintain a work life balance.

Residencies are a big undertaking and a lot of work and study for a long period of time, so it is important that the program and practice is one that is well suited to you. Most importantly though, one that also allows you to continue your hobbies outside of work.”

What is still your biggest challenge with being a surgeon?

“Never being satisfied with skills, knowledge and procedures performed and always wanting to push further”.

What is the best advice you have ever received regarding improving your surgical skills?

“One of my mentors said to me: “you will never stop learning and evolving, so remain open to all new literature and experiences, push past your comfort zone, and you will always feel challenged”.”

Any advice for new grads?  What about general practitioners that wish to pursue further education in surgery to small breeds and cats?

“At face value, surgery seems to be primarily a practical skill but there is also a huge amount of theoretical knowledge required to make decisions peri-operatively. Being able to confidently perform surgical procedures is such a rewarding part of being a vet and it is an area that is constantly evolving. Workshops, conferences and continuing education are vital for all who wish to improve their surgical skills because they provide a setting to discuss your experiences with other surgeons, discuss literature and most importantly develop your surgical skill set, knowledge and decision making”

Do you have any pets?

“My fiancé and I have an 8-year-old German Shepherd named Phoenix, a 2-year-old crazy Labrador named Bosco, and a cat named Ivy. I am at the bottom of the pecking order in the household”.

What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?

“I like anything involving the outdoors, keeping fit, and traveling. By far my favourite hobby is surfing at our local beach”.

Why not join James in challenging your surgical skills, and register for the VetPrac Fine and Fiddly Fractures Workshop at Gatton on 12-13 April 2019. Register HERE. For more information, check out the brochure.

Dr James King can be contacted at [email protected] or 0412262316.

Written by Alison Caiafa