Meet our team: Ophthalmologist Ioannis Tzouganakis

Davies Veterinary Specialists


8th August 2022

Meet our team interview: Ophthalmologist Ioannis Tzouganakis DVM BSAVA PGCertSAOphthal MRCVS

Ioannis graduated from the University of Thessaly in Greece. After graduation, he spent a year at one of the largest referral hospitals in Athens working with one of Greece’s foremost ophthalmologists before moving to the United Kingdom. Having spent a few years in general practice, during which he completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Small Animal Ophthalmology, he joined Davies Veterinary Specialists in 2017 for a rotating internship followed by an ophthalmology internship to pursue further specialisation in ophthalmology. In 2019 he joined the ophthalmology team at Davies as a resident of the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmology. He successfully completed his residency in March 2022 and is now one of the Ophthalmologists at Davies.

Did you always want to be a vet?

Absolutely! Despite the fact that I do not come from a veterinary or medical background, ever since I can remember I have always wanted to become a vet. I guess it might be due to the fact that I always loved animals and always wanted to be around animals.

I remember annoying my parents for years, asking for a pet (I always wanted a dog). Initially they compromised and allowed me to have a duck and then a cat. Eventually, we ended up having dogs which have now become part of our family and we certainly couldn’t live without one anymore.

Did you have a career plan upon graduating? Always Ophthalmology?

It might not come to a surprise to people who are involved with Veterinary Medicine but, initially – like most vets – I wanted to become a surgeon. Luckily, during the first years of my studies I started seeing practice and helping out at a local clinic in Greece where the spark for ophthalmology ignited; ever since then I knew this was what I wanted to do

What was the toughest part of your training?

Hands down learning how to put together a buster collar, which requires immense skill and commitment. Ask any owner whose pet has had to wear one of these, they are a nightmare!

Jokes aside, I’d say the rotating internship was the most challenging part of the training. When you graduate, you feel you know everything and nothing at the same time and go on to work in general practice where you take responsibilities, care for your patients and do the best you can.

Leaving a setup where you make all the decisions and where you (think you) know what is best for your patients and going back to a form of informal education, learning from the best in their fields and recognising your strengths and weaknesses can be challenging in many ways. Realising there are many more aspects of medicine, that you actually don’t know everything there is to know and that there are many more ways to care for your future patients in the best possible way, can be hard. Even more importantly, accepting this can be very difficult for some.

Tell us about the path from intern to resident

There are two things that everyone who is interested in pursuing a residency should know. First, you have to be patient as it is likely going to be a long journey with a rollercoaster of feelings: the joy of a successful application, the disappointment that comes with rejection, strength to persevere to achieve your goal are just a few on the list. Second, everyone has to realise that it’s not a case of you being bad or inadequate for the role, it’s simply a very competitive field and probably at the time of application for a position, there was someone who had better qualifications.

My journey started in 2017 at Davies as a rotating intern, after having gone through a few rejections for positions I was underqualified for (I was applying for residency positions at the time). There was even an ophthalmology internship available at Davies at the time but I didn’t get the job. However, as the first year went by and I improved my skills, I was then offered an ophthalmology internship at the same institution and stayed for another year. Fast forward to December 2019, and I started my position as a Resident of the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmology at Davies.

What were the highlights and the challenges of your residency?

I think the biggest highlight of the residency was the day-to-day part of the role, spending each and every day among specialists in their field, sharing their expert opinions while you are creating your own. The biggest challenge obviously came alongside the highlight and was the realisation of how much there is out there to be taught and learned!

How did you progress to your current role?

The benefit of working at a well-established, rapidly growing multidisciplinary practice means that there are always opportunities for expansion and growth. After my training at Davies, I was offered a position as a clinician in Ophthalmology

How do you maintain a good work-life balance?

Often, on a day-to-day basis, time flies and you come to a realisation that there are things that have to be done by the end of the working day, things that your colleagues can help you with and things that are not urgent and will have to wait until the next day.

Working as part of a large team in combination with respecting the boundaries of your personal life and relationships is very important. I am sure there are many of us who wish the day had another 2, 3 or 10 hours in order to catch up with everything and be more efficient, but organisation and learning how to prioritise things are key. As is trusting our colleagues and accepting their help when it comes to caring for patients; being comfortable with delegating responsibilities is what all of us need in order to maintain a good work-life balance.

Do you have a pet?

I do indeed and I love her to bits. Malou is a partially sighted Shih-Tzu/Maltese crossbreed weighing just over 4kg. I can assure you she compensates in character for what she lacks in body-weight!

What is your ultimate goal in your working life?

Regardless of whether you are a general practitioner, an emergency care provider or a specialised vet, I strongly believe you should be delivering the best care to your patients. My ultimate goal is to be in a position where I know I have done everything in my power, each and every day, for all of my patients and their owners. This, and further developing my surgical skills to be able to help even more patients.

Biggest career regret?

I like to have a “glass half full” attitude, so I’d say there are no regrets. There are good and bad choices throughout everyone’s career and these have helped to mould me into the person I am now.

Greatest veterinary achievement so far?

From a perfectionist point of view, I’d say there is still room for improvement and the best is yet to come. However, if I had to choose just one thing it would have to be the positive feedback you receive from your colleagues and their trust with your clinical skills. When you work at such high standards at one of the best referral centres in the UK this means a lot!

Linnaeus Veterinary Limited trading as Davies Veterinary Specialists 01582 883950

©2024 Davies Veterinary Specialists