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Veterinary scene Down Under: Harnessing veterinary science and psychology, new AVA president, and more

dvm360dvm360 October 2023
Volume 54
Issue 10
Pages: 80

Renowned global veterinary emotional intelligence and leadership expert relocates to Perth; Australia CVO announces retirement; and the Australian Veterinary Association presidency changes hands

Veterinary science and psychology

Polish-graduated veterinarian Liv Oginska, DVM, MRCVS, PgCert, SAS, MSc, has a unique understanding of both the science and psychology of the veterinary profession. She has relocated to Perth on the west coast of Australia commencing a part-time lecturing position at Murdoch University while also completing her studies towards a PhD and running her consultancy focused on veterinary emotional intelligence and leadership.

Liv Oginska, DVM, MRCVS, PgCert, SAS, MSc.

Liv Oginska, DVM, MRCVS, PgCert, SAS, MSc.

“I’m excited to be supporting the Murdoch University team, the absolutely amazing people, Melinda Bell and Martin Cake, who have been creating the non-clinical professional skills curriculum for the vet students for the last decade, and they are now expanding the skills that will be taught to the veterinary students. My role will focus on continuing this wonderful legacy and developing it further,” explained Oginska to dvm360.

A key skill Oginska is looking to teach veterinary students, and veterinarians through her own consultancy work, is receiving and giving feedback. “It's an art that we rarely learn at school or in a family setting, and it causes a plethora of unnecessary issues and conflicts in a workplace. If everyone in the world felt truly comfortable and open to exchanging feedback with their co-workers, I am pretty sure I would be out of a job!” said Oginska.

Early in her career Oginska’s goal was to become a small animal surgical specialist, and after completing various surgical externships and internships, she completed a post-graduate Certificate in Small Animal Surgery, and then moved into academia at Cambridge University. Around the same time, she decided to follow a long nurtured, but hidden passion for psychology. “Having completed my Master of Applied Positive Psychology in 2020, I set up my Be Human-Savvy consultancy. Since then, I further specialized in emotional intelligence and gained a certification in workplace conflict mediation. My squiggly career path, together with all the training and experience it gave me, helps me to now help individuals, teams and veterinary leaders around the globe,” said Oginska.

Having experienced a myriad of situations during her career where colleagues in clinical practice had impacted her mental health because of their lack of self-awareness or self-management, Oginska is passionate about helping those in the veterinary profession become their best selves. “The veterinary profession is saturated with wonderful and kind people, however, all of us sometimes get lost and allow our emotions to take over and destroy personal and professional relationships. Very often, our deeply ingrained beliefs, biases, unmet needs and insecurities, combined with a remarkably stressful environment, control our behavior and make us ‘show up’ in the version that does not serve ourselves and others,” explained Oginska.

“Impatience, snappiness, judgement, assumptions, competitiveness, jealousy, conflict—all of those phenomena are a regular part of life in any veterinary practice,” she added. “However, it doesn't mean that it should just be accepted as the way it is and that it can't be improved!” Through her work, Oginska highlights that investigating and properly managing our beliefs, emotions, and behaviors is a learnable skill.

“Deepening self-awareness and mastering the interpersonal interactions can be learned at any point of life, which is wonderful news! Most importantly, once we get better control over our emotions, everything else improves, self-confidence, mental health, relationships, professional performance, business revenue and patient safety,” shared Oginska. “The power of emotional intelligence in the vet world is immense and yet, still underutilized. That's why, once I noticed it through my positive psychology studies, I knew that I will spend the rest of my life ‘taming’ this topic and turning it into tools that can benefit my veterinary community!”

Oginska’s PhD at the University of Adelaide and Murdoch University is focused on investigating the impact of the emotional competencies of teams and leaders on psychological safety and employee turnover in the workplace.

Australian chief veterinary officer announces retirement

After a 30-year career in the Australian Public Service and 12 years as Australian chief veterinary officer, Mark Schipp, BSc, BVMS, will retire from his role on December 1, 2023. According to a statement from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry,1 Schipp has been “instrumental in building the capacity of the office of the chief veterinary officer, with a focus on biosecurity, One Health, antimicrobial resistance, international engagement in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, and advocacy for the veterinary profession.”

Dr Mark Schipp, BSc, BVMS. (Photo courtesy of Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry).

Dr Mark Schipp, BSc, BVMS. (Photo courtesy of Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry).

Since 2012, Schipp has been Australia's Delegate to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), and was president of the WOAH general assembly for a 3-year term from 2018 to 2021. He will continue to serve on the WOAH council as immediate past-president until May 2024.

“After a long career as a government veterinarian, including 12 years as Australia's chief veterinary officer, it is now time for me to retire. I feel immensely grateful for the opportunities I have been given, to represent Australia internationally, to lead the World Organization for Animal Health World Assembly, and to work on significant issues such as antimicrobial resistance and animal welfare,” said Schipp exclusively to dvm360. “Veterinarians have so much to contribute not only in animal health and welfare, but also in One Health, food safety and security, and it has been a great privilege to be part of this awesome profession.”

Diana Barker takes over as AVA president

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has announced in a short statement that the AVA Board has elected Diana Barker, BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Small Animal Surgery), as the organization’s new president, following the decision of recently elected president Alistair Webb, BVSc(Hons), MANZCVS (Feline Medicine), to step down from the role and resign as a director.2

Barker had been appointed vice president of the AVA Board in May 2023 and takes on the presidency during a challenging time in the veterinary sector. “The AVA is doing great work advocating on behalf of the profession and I look forward to helping build a stronger, more progressive AVA so that we continue to be part of the solution,” she expressed.


  1. Retirement of Australia’s chief veterinary officer. Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. August 25, 2023. Accessed August 25, 2023. https://www.agriculture.gov.au/node/22175#
  2. The Australian Veterinary Association Board appoints new president. Australian Veterinary Association. August 18, 2023. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://www.ava.com.au/media-centre/media-releases/the-australian-veterinary-association-board-appoints-new-president
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