Meet Veterinary ultrasonographer Dr Louise Barnett

14 Jan 2022

“Ultrasound has always been a passion. Even in my first job, as a younger vet who had a lot of hands-on training through vet school and spending time with as many cardiologists as possible during training, I was more familiar with the machine than all of my older colleagues, so I started to do basic scans from the moment I graduated,” explained Dr Barnett. 

“My intention at this time was to specialise in cardiology, and so I pursued externships and placements during and after university to start pursuing that path. I was advised to get experience in general practice first, so I spent a couple of years in practice in the UK prior to a year-long travel trip, mostly in Australia and working in ECC and ICU, before completing a 12-month rotating internship with Nottingham Vet School and Pride Veterinary Centre in 2015 to 2016.”   

Relocating down under 

After completing her internship, Dr Barnett was awaiting her Australian permanent residency, so she spent almost two years at a busy hospital in London, performing in-house ultrasounds and echocardiograms. 

“I made the permanent move to Australia in October 2018 and studied for my Memberships in small animal radiology. For the first nine months in Western Australia, I worked in a 24-hour vet hospital, but having noticed the apparent shortage of in-house ultrasound in Perth, I set up ImagingFirst, a mobile ultrasound service and the business has been growing ever since,” said Dr Barnett. 

“Ultrasound is something I don't think I'll ever get bored of, because every single case and patient is different, and there's always scope to learn new skills and develop knowledge in this field. The added fun for my role now is that I've been able to meet so many different people at clinics all over Perth, which is amazing.”  

Giving back 

Having joined the AVA WA Committee in early 2020, Dr Barnett has enjoyed the opportunity to expand her contact network whilst being exposed to the AVA’s advocacy and policy development work. 

“It's been an eye-opening experience with regard to having a basic understanding of policy and advocacy and in the planning for events such as the WA Conference. I joined just prior to COVID-19, so the AVA and committees have had extra challenges to deal with during this time. It's been a great way to meet other people in the profession and to broaden my horizons a little, which have otherwise been very clinically focused,” shared Dr Barnett. 

During her career, Dr Barnett has undertaken veterinary charity trips abroad, working in India, Thailand, Spain and Sri Lanka. With her business now two years old and through the initial growth phase, she has now also been able to prioritise pursuits outside of work. 

“I used to do a lot more before I owned a business! I was somewhat naive in thinking I would somehow work less because I was ‘in control’ of my diary. The reality is that it's very hard to say no, especially when you're in the growth phase of a business and want to put your name out there and make a good impression.” 

“Now that I'm two years in, I'm regaining a bit of that time, and perhaps a better sense of personal balance again, to get back to the gym, which has always been another passion of mine, and down to the beach on the paddleboard when it gets warmer,” said Dr Barnett. 

Finding a job that is your passion 

Always keen to learn more in her field of interest, Dr Barnett reflected on the key to enjoying your work. 

“Be kind to yourself, remember that it gets easier over time, and take the time to work out what your passion within the job is - you'll enjoy going to work a lot more when you do!”   

“I have to admit that I enjoy doing 100% ultrasound work more than I enjoyed being a vet in practice, though the autonomy of owning the business plays a part in that, I'm sure. I was always very tough on myself in the general practice world, as so many of us are – and now I can focus my efforts and study in a narrower field, rather than trying to be excel in all fields of general practice, which better suits my personality,” said Dr Barnett.  

Dr Phil Tucak