Would you like to discover the secrets to success in gastrointestinal endoscopy from a Swiss vet who loves internal medicine for the detective work it involves? Let’s get to know that vet. He’s Dr Julien Dandrieux, who hails from Lausanne, Switzerland and now works at Melbourne University.

What inspired you to become a veterinarian and then go onto specialise in small animal internal medicine?

“Not very original, but I’ve always enjoyed contact with dogs and cats. For this reason, I did veterinary medicine after my biology degree. During my studies, I decided that I wanted to specialise in internal medicine as I like the detective work part of it.”

You’ve experienced veterinary practice and life in 4 vastly different countries -Switzerland, the USA, the UK and now Australia (Melbourne). What brought you to Australia? What is your favourite thing about living in Melbourne? And your least favourite? What do you miss most about Switzerland?

“My moves have been guided up to now by my work! Both my wife and I had the opportunity to join the University of Melbourne. I was able to undertake a PhD, which is something that I was thinking of doing for a few years prior to that.

Melbourne is a very enjoyable city to live in! The weather is so much better than the UK where we lived before and we love the cultural scene of Melbourne as well as the markets, and good food and wine. Lauren is from Melbourne and it is great for her to catch up with her family. Obviously, if I want to be allowed to stay in Melbourne, I must mention the 5-star coffee!

The main drawback of Australia is to be far away from my own family and I miss being able to drive one hour to find myself in another country, with a different language and culture. Being Swiss, I miss beautiful cheese at an affordable price… And skiing! If you put the two together, having a cheese fondue at the end of a day of hard skiing.”

Tell us a little about your PhD project at the University of Melbourne.

“During the PhD, I studied dogs with gastro-intestinal disease. More specifically, we have concentrated on macrophages in the intestines before and after treatment. We are also developing new methods to monitor dogs treated with immunosuppressive drugs, aiming to reduce adverse effects. This has been a collaborative project with Mississippi State University.”

What is it about small animal gastrointestinal endoscopy that you enjoy the most?

“I like any type of endoscopy! Endoscopy requires a lot of skill, especially to get adequate biopsies. It has taken me several years to feel at ease with it, but it continues to be challenging. (who has never been blocked by an uncooperative pylorus?). I have been using histology a lot during my PhD, which makes me much more aware of good technique to get adequate samples when getting biopsies of the intestinal tract.

Endoscopy is now also used for interventional medicine, which makes it even more exciting.

One of the most satisfying feelings when teaching residents is to see them develop their skills in endoscopy. At the start, reaching the stomach is a difficult task! However, by the end of the residency, they feel comfortable throughout the procedure”

What practical tips in small animal gastrointestinal endoscopy that you learned from experience would you share with general practitioners?

“Do not overinflate the stomach!! Or you will find it hard to reach the duodenum…. Endoscopy needs practice, practice, … and practice!”

What advice would you give new graduates?

“There is a shift in students with a majority now being interested in undertaking some degree of specialisation. I think that as a new graduate it is important to get excellent broad skills prior to deciding about specialising or not.
Our job can be very draining, so it’s important to discuss options on how to deal with the stress of the job and to keep a balanced life.”

What do you like to do for fun?

“We just had a baby, so life has changed quite a bit over the last few months! Luckily, we have a very active Kelpie that gives me excuses to go for runs and bike tours. A lot of outdoor activity! What am I missing most from Switzerland… skiing! Most fun sport that I do. Traveling and enjoying a glass wine with friends.”

How do you spend your days off?

“It usually involves having breakfast out in one of our favourite coffee shops and some outdoor activity.”

You can meet Julien and experience more of his detective skills at the VetPrac Small Animal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Workshop at Gatton on February 21-22, 2019. Register TODAY! You never know what you might discover!

Dr Julien Dandrieux can be contacted at:
U-Vet, 250 Princes Highway, Werribee, VIC 3030.

Written by Alison Caiafa