IN GOOD HANDS: UQ veterinary technician Vit Chakitdee watches Dr Rebekah Scotney check over dog Woodstock.
IN GOOD HANDS: UQ veterinary technician Vit Chakitdee watches Dr Rebekah Scotney check over dog Woodstock. Francis Witsenhuysen

Gatton vet nurse achieves PhD

UQ GATTON'S Rebekah Scotney may be the only qualified veterinary nurse in Queensland to be awarded a doctorate in veterinary sciences.

It took the clinical academic a total of nine and a half years to complete her PhD at the Gatton campus as she was working full-time and a married mother of three.

"It was a lot of hard work but UQ's vet sciences were so supportive,” Dr Scotney said.

"It took me a bit of wrangling to do my PhD because I only had an associate degree.

"After graduating in 1993 at this campus I went and did my Certificate IV in vet nursing. From there, to get my PhD, I had to do a graduate certificate in veterinary studies which was research-based.”

Dr Scotney and her colleagues are convinced there is not another Certificate IV veterinary nurse who has done a PhD in a veterinary discipline.

"That's primarily because they need a base degree,” she said.

"But someone could have come around the long way like me and entered some sort of mature entry pathway. If there is someone else out there, I'd love them to get in touch with me.”

The long-term goal for Dr Scotney is to push her passion for lifelong learning and teaching while promoting veterinary nursing and veterinary technology as professions.

"Professionally, my PhD allows me to build up the recognition and get it on par with, say, dentistry, para professionals and human nursing,” she said.

In her current role as program co-ordinator of UQ's veterinary technology degree, Dr Scotney is putting her life's work into developing programs and strategies to bridge the gap in mental health and well- being of people within any animal-related occupation.

She said mental health was a growing issue in vet sciences and suicide is on the increase within veterinary Nurses and veterinary technicians.

"My PhD was on occupational stress and compassion fatigue for those who work in animal-related industry,” she said.

”In a previous job I was having to euthanize two dogs a week and it began to get to me, and there was no real support available.

"My long-term goal is to have a consultancy within the uni, which focuses on delivering those programs and having access for all animal-related professions.”

Another incredible achievement of Dr Scotney's was helping to design the UQ Gatton's $16million purpose-built companion animal facility, which opened in December 2009.

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