Deborah Alexander’s long and fascinating career has taken her through many vocations in veterinary science, including mixed- and small animal practice, imaging and radiology.
Accompanying this every step of the way has been an incredible appetite for learning, which she crowned with a Postgraduate Diploma in Livestock Health and Production at the 2018 Graduation Ceremony.
Chatting with Deborah, it quickly becomes apparent how much she has achieved in order to fulfil a broad range of roles to the best of her abilities.
During her early career, she held a research position at the University of Cambridge while studying for a diploma in radiology. Years later, while Head Vet at Wood Green Animal Shelter, she enrolled with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for a certificate in small animal surgery.
Upon joining the Animal and Plant Health Agency, an arm of the government department DEFRA, her goal to become a veterinary officer drove her towards the Livestock Health and Production programme by distance learning with the University of London.
She began with the Postgraduate Certificate before progressing to the Diploma.
“I’ve always tried to do the best I can in whatever role I’ve had,” she says. “I’ve always gone from one topic or discipline to another, so I’ve just tried to make sure that I’m doing the best I can within that area.”
By the turn of the century, Deborah had left practice and was working in the development of medicine for Novartis Animal Health.
The company released her to help with the devastating foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001 that caused the slaughter of millions of animals.
“The British Veterinary Association were looking for any volunteers. I did a couple of weeks and my fees were donated back to the farmer who lost all his animals,” she says.
“It was a very upsetting moment but good to have been of help.”
Unable to relocate with Novartis some years later, Deborah’s thoughts returned to veterinary practice – and further study.
“I thought to myself – it’s been a long time since you’ve done large animal practice. You need something that’s pertinent to that role.”
The Postgraduate Certificate in Livestock Health and Production by distance learning proved ideal, and Deborah’s decade of service was recognised by Novartis, which offered financial support towards the award.
“It’s enabled me to have more meaningful relationships with farmers and understand more of their world, because it’s not just about veterinary science, is it?” she reflects.
“It’s about how the animals are kept, their nutrition, and gaining knowledge. I have shared tutor-marked assignments with other colleagues, which I think they’ve enjoyed and appreciated.”