Cathy wrote about why someone would need a wellbeing coach on our blog in December 2016. Recently I caught up with Cathy and found out what she’s been doing in both work and play. I discovered that Cathy is a huge giver; she believes that personal achievements are great, but helping others whilst growing yourself is even better.

The first hint I got about Cathy’s giving nature was when I asked Cathy to list the organisations she’s been involved with, her awards and acknowledgements. Her answer says it all: “This is not what you probably are looking for here, but I am and have been an active volunteer over many years – a breast-feeding counsellor, English tutor, facilitator of secular ethics classes for primary school kids, helped out with organisations associated with my kids and currently am a volunteer humanist pastoral carer at a major Melbourne hospital and, of course, an AVA new graduate mentor.”

She finished by stating “Achievements are great – but helping others whilst growing yourself is even better 😊”

I then asked her to tell our readers about her wellbeing business Make Headway, and how it had evolved over recent years.

She answered “Make Headway is focused on advancing veterinary mental health and well-being. Happy, healthy, self-aware veterinary professionals build and evolve careers that are personally meaningful, and congruent with their strengths and interests. This is the pathway to sustainable success and fulfilment – both for the individual and the team they are part of.  Myself and Cheryl Fry are both veterinary coaches and we provide individual and small group coaching and education – facilitating greater self-knowledge and development of the non-technical competencies which support us to effectively utilize our clinical skills and knowledge – competencies such as mindset, emotional intelligence, self-care skills, resilience, confidence and interpersonal communication. The business is continuing to grow as more and more people understand the link between well-being, engagement and success”.

We then moved on to the subject of what makes a great workplace.

Cathy considers that “a great workplace always starts with great leaders. We need leaders that support, encourage, empower and connect their teams. Leaders who understand that people’s life outside work is also important. Teams whose opinions are valued, who are trusted, given responsibility and shown appreciation will provide a great service to animals and clients. Combine this with sensible long-term financial decisions and you have a recipe for success.”

I asked Cathy whether, in her opinion, veterinary students receive adequate training in non-clinical “life” skills before they graduate, and what advice she would give new graduates?

“In a word, no! But, there is a growing emphasis on these generic, non-veterinary skills in our vet degrees – and this will help to tackle the mental health problems we have in the industry. We want veterinary students to understand the importance of creating healthy patterns of thinking and living as soon as they start their degree. Leading a healthy, balanced life and growing your non-technical competencies is way more important than getting a HD in anatomy or parasitology!

For new graduates, yes – you need to be able to do stuff and know where to find the information you need – but your ability to communicate with clients and your colleagues, to look after yourself and to recover when things go awry is key. Keep growing in these areas.

And last but definitely not least, what does Cathy do for fun and how does she spend her days off?

“I love being in nature. I do a spot of eco-wildlife tour-guiding for fun.

I love dinner with my family and cuppas or bike-rides with the girls.

I love travelling.

I love sitting in bed on a weekend morning, chatting with my husband, reading the paper and drinking a cup of tea. Actually, I love tea – it has to be brewed in a pot and quite milky. A tea bag doesn’t cut it.

Doing yoga or mindfully listening to music is also guaranteed to lift my mood.

The best day off for me is going for a walk in the bush with family or friends and seeing whether I can spot a koala or work out what bird is calling. The day should end in a café or pub because I also love food (and did I mention that I love tea?). If I can string a few of these days together in a row – that is heaven”

VetPrac is fortunate to have Cathy as an educator at the Navigating Difficult Clinical Encounters Conference on October 15-17, 2018, but, as you can see from her words, Cathy has so much more to offer than just knowledge. Why not come along and experience Cathy’s giving nature first hand. You won’t regret it! Register here.

PS VetPrac staff please remember to pack a tea pot and loose tea leaves in the hospitality kit!!!

Dr Cathy Warburton can be contacted at [email protected] or

Written by Alison Caiafa