Meet Dr Mark Johnston, Chief Executive of Vetstream, WSAVA Communications Partner and Global Educational Partner.
Could you introduce yourself briefly to WSAVA members?
I qualified as a veterinarian in 1987 and spent five years in referral equine veterinary practice in Newmarket, UK, with a particular interest in equine anesthesia and intensive care. I subsequently obtained my PhD from the University of Cambridge. I became involved with Vetstream in 1995 and am now Chief Executive. I was heavily involved in setting up the distance learning aspects of the WSAVA Foundation’s AFSCAN project in Africa and became a Board Member of the WSAVA Foundation earlier this year.
Tell us about a little about Vetstream
Vetstream offers a range of digital services to the veterinary profession. They include Vetlexicon, the world's largest online clinical veterinary reference tool, which offers comprehensive, digital point-of-care information on the veterinary treatment of dogs (Canis), cats (Felis), rabbits (Lapis), exotics (Exotis) and horses (Equis) provided and peer-reviewed by more than 900 key opinion leaders, together with Practis, which provides advice on all aspects of practice management. Vetstream was delighted to be appointed as a Global Educational Partner of the WSAVA in April 2017 and we offer Vetlexicon to member associations of the WSAVA at preferential pricing. We were even more delighted to be appointed as the WSAVA‘s Communications Partner earlier this year.
Vetstream has been working with the WSAVA for several years now. Why did you want to get involved?
I became a veterinarian because I am passionate about the benefits of the human-animal bond. Animals are family members and the benefits they bring to our physical and mental health are increasingly recognized. It is this bond which underpins the services that Vetstream offers and, as the WSAVA is focused on advancing the veterinary care of companion animals, it was a no-brainer that we would want to help it to achieve its goals. Having lost my father to suicide, I am particularly aware of the issue of mental health and welfare in our profession and am determined to support colleagues who may be struggling with compassion fatigue, exhaustion, low esteem and relationship breakdown. If Vetstream can help to improve the mental and physical health of our profession we will, in turn, be improving the health of our patients and their clients.
The company was recently appointed as WSAVA Communications Partner. What are you focussing on currently and how’s it going?
We are focused on supporting the WSAVA to increase its membership and to enhance its relationships, both with its member associations and with their individual members, in order to support the companion animal veterinary profession worldwide. We have recently carried out a research project into perceptions of the WSAVA, both within it and from the outside. It has been a fascinating project and we have learned a great deal which we will be applying in the months ahead.
When will WSAVA members start to see the results of your work?
We are reviewing the WSAVA brand and working on a new website which will be unveiled during WSAVA World Congress in Copenhagen. We are also looking at other ways which will enable the WSAVA to communicate more effectively with its members – social media being an obvious example.
What do you enjoy doing outside work?
I recently started bee-keeping. How up to 60,000 of these animals, so vital to our ecosystem, run their communities so effectively is a wonder to me each time I open up my hives. I also love growing plants from seed so reshaping my garden and helping it to flourish gives me a lot of pleasure. It also helps the bees! I am the trustee of Our Special Friends, a charity founded by my veterinarian wife, Belinda Johnston, which applies the well-known benefits of the human animal bond to help ensure that vulnerable people can continue to benefit from the companionship of animals through difficult times in their lives.