ASAVA names 2014’s Practitioner of the Year

The Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association has announced that the 2014 Practitioner of the Year is Mary Porter, a clinician in Sydney.

The award did not surprise Porter’s colleagues, who applauded her diagnostic and psychological skills and said, “She enjoys complex cases, listens to her clients and likes to give emotional support to owners.”

Porter graduated from the University of Sydney in 1979 with first class honors and the university medal. Despite encouragement to pursue an academic career, Porter chose to work with Henry Hirschhorn and Graham Lester at Pittwater Animal Hospital. She worked with Hirschhorn and Lester for the next 8 years reminiscing that “their thoughtful encouragement helped develop my enthusiasm for general practice and surgery – they were wonderful.”

While still a young practitioner, Porter became a Member of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in Canine Medicine, now the Small Animal Medicine chapter.

In 1987, Porter moved to Canberra. She began research under the late Bede Morris at the John Curtin School of Medical Research on splitting lamb embryos and investigating their immunological disparities while working with David Pembrey at Wanniassa Hills Veterinary Hospital.

Although research proved successful, Porter found her passion lay in clinical practice.

In 1989, she returned to Sydney and moved to Chatswood Veterinary Clinic with Fiona Smith and a team of “wonderful supportive colleagues.”

“The original clinic was in a heritage building butcher shop next door to an antiques store,” Porter said. “Over the years our clinic expanded and now occupies the whole building.”

Twenty-five years later Porter continues to work part-time with Smith, described as “the best veterinarian and friend for whom one could wish.”

Porter was married to the late John Davis with whom she had two children – Tom, 23 and Kate, 25. She also became stepmother to Davis’ three teenage boys.

“I am not sure how I did it as once you sign on to being a mother, the only shift is 24/7.”

In 2003 Porter met her present husband Bruce Sanderson with whom she now lives along with two cats and one geratic dog.

When first told of her award Porter said, “I am honored to be chosen for such a prestigious award. I love the daily routine of practice, the preventive care, and the opportunity to meet owners who genuinely care about their pets.”

Porter has been an editorial board member of The Veterinarian for 15 years.

TOM DONNELLY