Podcasting combines my passion for vet nursing and my capacity for creativity
When I met my husband Matt – a vet – I was working as a lawyer. Before we married, we spent our spare time travelling around Australia in our 1973 Volkswagen Kombi, eventually deciding to settle in the Atherton Tablelands in north Queensland. It’s a beautiful part of Australia – a highland region covered with vast tracts of rainforest and stunning waterfalls – inland from Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.
One day – out of the blue – I was approached by the wife of a vet who ran a solo-vet practice in the middle of the rainforest. Her husband wanted to retire and they asked if we wanted to buy the business. We bought their client list and equipment, leased an old medical centre and then went about converting it to a veterinary surgery, which we called Ready Vet.
I completed a course in computerised accounting so that I could manage the books and accounts. Next, I did a veterinary nursing certificate and quickly discovered that I absolutely loved nursing. My journey to vet nursing was a very happy accident and I’ve never looked back.
Our son was born in 2017 and I fully intended to return to work when he was six months old, but I soon realised that I wanted to be at home with him as for as long as possible. I became the general manager of the practice and worked at nights and weekends to achieve this.
I also missed nursing, so I tried to work one or two shifts a week as well as running the business side of the practice, which I really enjoy.
It was my appetite to keep my nursing knowledge up to date that led me towards producing podcasts. I had started listening to others years before, but I couldn’t find any that were dedicated to veterinary nursing.
I thought about it and decided that my podcasts would have a relaxed and entertaining tone, but still be didactic in the sense that listeners would be able to learn from my guests. It seemed to be a good way to inspire vet nurses to be the best they could be.
But first I needed to learn how to do it. I completed two podcasting courses that taught me how to record and put a show together. The first was a self-paced online course run by Rachel Corbett called ‘Podschool’. The second was a six-week course through the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, which was delivered online one night a week. I have a musical background and this was a great help with the recording process, and it was nice to be working in a creative capacity again.
"My podcasts aim to be relaxed and entertaining but also educational and inspirational"
I started developing the project in January 2018 and launched my first podcast in August.
Practice general manger role
As practice general manager, my current job involves bookkeeping and managing the accounts, as well as running the team – organising staff meetings and designing and implementing training programmes for our trainee nurses. I manage the client reminders and financial reports, oversee the medical records, and comply with all the regulations’ requirements from taxation and radiation to health and safety.
I also develop our standard operating procedure manuals and protocols, design and implement marketing campaigns, and manage social media. This is all alongside my nursing shift – to keep my finger on the pulse.
While much of my work is done at the weekend or at night, there are some tasks I can do while caring for my son, such as listening to my podcasts post-edit to ensure that I’ve got the production and mastering just right.
The best things about my current job are that I’m my own boss and I get to innovate and improve things as I see fit. As far as Radio Vet Nurse is concerned, it’s having the chance to use my audio skills and creativity again, and the opportunity to learn from so many incredible vet nurses.
I recognise that I have what could be considered a crazy schedule. My main challenge is fitting everything in, while finding time to relax and be with my family. And it can be difficult to get to sleep at night after an evening spent stimulating my brain instead of winding down.
My legal skills in risk identification and mitigation are the most important skills I have learned throughout my career and I use them almost daily in managing Ready Vet.
My interests outside of work include my family, my friends and my record collection. However, achieving a good work-life balance is always difficult, especially when you live and breathe your work, as we do.
Having our son helps to balance things out and I feel lucky to be able to spend chunks of the day with him.
We are also lucky to live in a beautiful part of the world where we can enjoy nature. There are lots of nice places within an hour or two from home where we can get away to relax and unwind.
I think if I were to give my younger self some advice, it would be to delegate more of my work before going on maternity leave, and to sleep when the baby sleeps.
Inspirations and aspirations
My husband is my biggest inspiration – he’s a great vet and works incredibly hard to give the every patient and client the best care. He has boundless energy.
My aim is to continue to grow and improve our practice.
"It’s great to have the opportunity to contribute to the voice of vet nurses all over the world"
Hopefully in the next few years we will have built our own new Australian Veterinary Association-accredited facility so that we have more space for our ever-expanding team.
I also want to continue to grow Radio Vet Nurse and my family, which is on track, as baby number two is due in October!
Cat Robinson relishes the opportunity to ‘contribute to the voice of vet nurses all over the world’. In fact, she says that becoming a vet nurse and making Radio Vet Nurse podcasts have been her career-defining moments.
Her podcasts feature vet nurses discussing their experiences of life and work – from how they got their start in the profession to the mental wellness strategies they use to help with difficult days and compassion fatigue.
She is responsible for all aspects of her podcasts – including finding guests and recording interviews, to editing and uploading episodes – as well as adding photos and show notes to the website, and creating content to promote the episodes on social media.
Radio Vet Nurse podcasts have an expanding group of regular listeners. Currently, between 900 and 1000 people listen to each episode in the month in which it is broadcast, and the listeners are in 58 countries around the world – the majority in Australia (54 per cent), the UK (28 per cent) and the USA.