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Ten years producing world class graduates

The people and passion behind SA’s only vet school

Roseworthy was always going to be the perfect location for South Australia’s inaugural animal and veterinary sciences school.

Located just 50 kilometres north of Adelaide, near Gawler, and situated on 1600 hectares of farmland with access to lots of animals, the School has been producing world class graduates and supporting local vet services for ten years.

Before the School started in 2008, students had to leave the state to pursue veterinary studies. Head of School, Dean of Roseworthy and alumnus Professor Wayne Hein was one such student.

“I did my initial studies in Agriculture at Roseworthy College, but wanted to go on to study veterinary science. As I couldn’t get my vet qualification here, I ended up going to Queensland,” he said.

Dog receiving treatment from student and professor“A key change that helped to leverage Roseworthy as the ideal location for a vet school was relocating ‘animal sciences’ courses from the Waite campus to Roseworthy.

“Once they had animal science up and running here, the feeling was they were now halfway to a vet school, so why not start advocating for one to be built.”

Manager of the School Sarah Hocking was there in the early days and said the worldwide recruitment drive for staff was one of the most exciting activities in setting up the school.

“Moving to Australia and living in a rural setting didn’t suit everyone, but the people who were able to adapt were fantastic and we were fortunate to recruit them,” she said.

There was also a big cultural shift on campus. “The student population went from 90 per cent male to 80 per cent female, and many students were now coming from the city and living in accommodation on campus.”

A key person in evolving the campus’ infrastructure and social activities to cater for the changing student demographic was Student Services Manager David Purdie.

“Providing students with an environment conducive to making friends, studying in small groups, sharing study notes and generally feeling comfortable was, and remains, essential in developing a real closeness and sense of community here at Roseworthy,” he said.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of all was getting the word out that Roseworthy’s animal centres were open for business and would complement, rather than compete with existing vet services in the area.

“Today we have fantastic relationships with vets, animal owners and organisations in the community. And they play a reciprocal role in providing additional real life placement experience to our students,” said Operations Officer Diane Whatling.

There are three animal centres at the School:

Professor

Companion Animal Health Centre

  • for the treatment of all types of small animals (domestic and wildlife)

Production Animal Health Centre

  • to treat and manage farm animals

Equine Health and Performance Centre

  • a world-class horse hospital providing general practice and specialist services to horses in state-of-the-art facilities.

Animals are referred to the School by local vets. The public can bring in their pets for a range of veterinarian services including vaccinations, desexing and microchipping.

Specialised services offered include: orthopaedics, oncology, internal medicine, reproductive medicine and sports medicine.

The School also has ongoing relationships with the RSPCA and the Adelaide Zoo, treating all animals from dogs to rabbits, to chimpanzees, lions and seals. “We have the right combination of state of the art equipment and specialist teams to successfully treat high risk cases that would otherwise only have a ten percent chance of survival,” said Diane. “Our students, under the supervision of experienced professionals, gain exposure to a wide range of animals and cases to prepare them for all scenarios out in the field.”

Jonathon helps farmers improve pig welfare

Vet school alumnus and vet Jonathon Bartsch always knew he wanted to work with animals, but his passion for working with pigs came after completing a placement with a pig veterinarian during his final years of study.

“I found that it was an industry where I could have a big impact on the animal’s welfare, from start to finish, helping to bring historic practices into the 21st century,” he said. “I work with Australian farmers every day, and get to visit farms in South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. “The pigs are pretty good to work with too.”

Growing up in Hahndorf, Jonathon was one of the many students who lived on campus at Roseworthy while studying to be a vet.

“It was the best experience of my life, a great social environment and easy to study without the distractions of home,” he said.

Tanya’s love of practical learning leads to Roseworthy

Growing up on a mango farm in the Northern Territory, alumna Tanya Nowland had every pet she could get her hands on – cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, even a horse.

Tanya knew from a young age she wanted to work with animals which led her to South Australia to study a Bachelor of Science (Animal Science) at the University of Adelaide’s Roseworthy campus.

A cat being treated at Roseworthy“I liked that the animal science degree at Roseworthy was very ‘hands-on.’ It involved a lot of practical learning which really appealed to me,” she said.

Tanya completed Honours and later became a research officer at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) where she looked at issues affecting pig reproduction and welfare.

“I enjoyed my job at SARDI, but as I was managing other people’s research projects, there wasn’t huge scope to investigate some of my own ideas to improve pig health,” Tanya said.

Tanya has only recently left SARDI, choosing to come back to the University’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences to pursue a PhD.

“In my PhD, I am looking at the role of intestinal bacteria in pig health to see if it can decrease piglet mortality and improve pig health,” she said.

Tanya aims to stay in research, whether it be working with pigs or a different animal, because research feels a natural fit for her love of learning.

Find out more about the vet school at adelaide.edu.au/vetsci

Story by Kelly Brown
Photos by Meaghan Coles

Feature image: Professor Wayne Hein with final year students Suria Fabbri (front) and Jing Khuu (back) at the Equine Health and Performance Centre.
Second image: Professor Wayne Hein with veterinary nurse James Englert at the Companion Animal Health Centre.
Third image: Professor Wayne Hein at Roseworthy
Fourth image: Jonathon Bartsch with pigs from Roseworthy’s pig club.

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