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TAFE NSW leads Tamworth boy to veterinary greatness

TAFE NSW Tamworth

TAFE NSW leads Tamworth boy to veterinary greatness

Like many of the great scientists and surgeons of our time, Chris Burrows was inspired to career greatness – or more importantly to get out of the house – by his mum.

The 35-year-old is a Veterinary Technician Specialist at the University of Sydney and holds a Master of Science, but there was a time when he had no idea what career lay in store.

“I’d finished school, started an arts degree in Sydney and had planned to become a teacher, but I wasn’t enjoying it and came home to Tamworth,” Chris said.

“Mum said, ‘You can pay rent or you can go to TAFE.’ So I went to TAFE,” he laughed.

Chris’s mum was a former veterinary nurse and retired TAFE NSW teacher, so Chris decided to follow in her footsteps and undertake a Certificate II in Animal Studies. Much to his surprise, he did some work placement and loved the experience.

“I never thought I wanted to do what mum did, but the clinical exposure really piqued my interest,” he said.

“I heard the teachers talk about patient care, saw their passion in a clinical environment, and realised it was what I wanted to do. Getting that industry exposure at TAFE NSW while living in a rural area like Tamworth was invaluable.”

Chris started a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing and gained work in a veterinary clinic in Queensland. He deferred his studies for three years to work full-time before deciding to specialise in anaesthesia.

He returned to TAFE NSW to complete his Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing via distance education, followed by a Diploma in Veterinary Nursing (Surgical). He obtained his current position at the University of Sydney in 2013.

Chris soon wanted to expand and hone his skills even further, so he completed a Master of Science (Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia) with the University of Edinburgh.

He now works lecturing university students and teaching world-class anaesthesia and post-operative care in the university’s veterinary hospital.

“I really love teaching, especially in the clinical environment, because I love providing that clarity for people who were once like me,” he explained.

“I think I have a lot of empathy and understanding in that space – I am really passionate about helping students realise what they can achieve, no matter what level they are learning at.”

TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Animal Care at Tamworth, Chris Mckinnon, said Chris was very shy when he first came to TAFE NSW, but blossomed in an environment that was hands-on and practical.

“TAFE NSW provides courses that are designed to give students a taste of what a real workplace is like – it helps young people work out what they want to do with their lives and where their innate talents lie,” she said.

“Chris is the ultimate example of someone who came to TAFE NSW without a clear vision for his future but then discovered what he was passionate about and launched a hugely successful career on the back of that.”

But of course, it’s his mum that deserves the lion’s share of the credit.

“I saw what my mum did as a vet nurse when I was a kid and how hard it was, and I really wasn’t interested – but now here we are!” Chris laughed.

“And I truly love what I do, 100 per cent.”

Pursue your passion in life and explore hundreds of nationally recognised qualifications at TAFE NSW. For more information, visit or phone 131 601.

Media contact: Terra Sword, Communications Specialist. Phone: 0437 697 723. Email: