What makes you win the award for the best lecturer for 4th-year students at the University of Queensland?… A splash of surgery, mixed with a pinch of oncology, stir in more than a dozen published papers and ta-da!… you get Dr Tania Banks.

Dr Banks knew from a young age (14 years old to be exact) that she wanted to be a veterinarian. After graduating from vet school at the University of Queensland, she worked in general practice for a short period of time before taking on a surgical residency at the University of Queensland and Veterinary Specialist Services (VSS). She then made the big move to the UK to practise as a specialist surgeon. While she was in England for several years, she missed the blue skies and the Aussie flora and fauna which lucky for us, brought her back to the motherland. Since returning, she has gained Fellowship of Australian & New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Small Animal Surgery in 2005. Also, she is back to where it all started and is now the senior lecturer for Small Animal Surgery at the University of Queensland.

Although she wishes that she could have more arms (and hands) to make surgery easier, even with the two that she’s got, she works magic both surgically and academically. She has a knack for engaging students by sharing her clinical cases, encouraging them to give her a hand in surgery (pun intended), getting the students to speak with owners and reading up on other hospital cases. Dr Banks mostly loves doing surgery because she likes to fix things!  Tania states “I think everyone has their inner strengths and weaknesses and working in a team that makes the most of what everyone can bring to the table is inspiring. I don’t get surprised when people don’t like surgery- I am more interested in what they do like”.

For those who wish to further a career in surgery, Tania recommends you find a good mentor and work hard.  Dr Banks also sets a great example for her favourite quote, “Don’t tell me, show me”. Tania says “words don’t talk about what you are going to do, just do it”.  Spoken like a true leader. And “do it” she has done! Soon Dr Banks will be moving to Wagga Wagga. Tania states “there will be an interesting mix of soft tissue and orthopaedic cases- apparently there are lots of fractures and wound to treat which is exciting.  I think it will be a new adventure for me. I can walk to the gym and I can ride my bike to work! This will be a great change”.

Dr Banks recently co-authored a textbook “Small Animal Oncology: An Introduction” and hopefully this helps clear up some common misconceptions about surgical oncology. For example, surgery often IS a reasonable option in many situations. This is amazing! Books are still very important as they are the brick of knowledge in time, from which all other knowledge is built around. We can’t wait to read it!

One of the memorable cases Dr Banks would like to leave us with is about a little dog who recently was hit by a car.  She suffered a very displaced spinal fracture and luxation at L6-7. The little pup could move and feel her legs pre-op despite the gross displacement of her vertebrae. This dog was lucky to have Dr Banks on the case. She is now walking and doing very well post-op.

Great work Dr Banks! We couldn’t be more thankful for having you share your story with us!

If you would like to hear more from Dr Banks (she has lots of cases to share) come learn from her in person!  Join us in November at the Internal Fixation workshop.

Interviewed by Alena Felkai