DR ULRIKE WURTH, BVSc, DIP AC, CVA (IVAS) 1950 – 2018. “With the death of Dr Ulrike Wurth late last year, the veterinary profession has lost an exceptional leader in the field of veterinary acupuncture.” From “The Age” (online obituary published 22.2.16)
Ulrike was a highly regarded Geelong Veterinary Surgeon and an unassuming leader, educator and mentor in the field of veterinary acupuncture. She has left an abiding legacy through her dedication to her profession, her community contributions, and her love of life, friends and family. She was a fighter for just causes, healer, guide and friend who could inspire and lead others in the right direction and almost always with a warm and loving smile.
Ulrike founded the Highton Veterinary Clinic almost 40 years ago. A student of Ulrike’s, Dr. Susanna Gamage writes, “She was an inspiration to us all, not just professionally but because of who she was.”
Graham Hobbs and Ulrike Wurth were married in 1979 and selected Geelong for both of them to set up practices in the same building – Ulrike as a veterinary surgeon and Graham as a lawyer. Ulrike continued in practice until 2010 and in the beginning Ulrike was Graham’s legal secretary and he was her veterinary nurse.
Ulrike was born in Germany in 1950 and migrated to Australia in 1954. She graduated from the University of Melbourne in Veterinary Medicine in 1972 as one of seven women from an initial class of fifty students. She became an exceptionally dedicated and driven young woman entering a male dominated profession. According to Graham, Ulrike learnt from her father and mother, a master draughtsman/builder and master seamstress respectively, not to be fazed by anything and to be efficient. If a machine or an instrument required maintenance or fixing, she read the instructions worked by first principles and fixed it.
Ulrike was curious and her alert mind was always looking for ways to improve the care and treatment of sick animals. This quest led to her first exposure to acupuncture in 1982 for the treatment of a cat with a paralysed bladder. She was so amazed by the experience apparently that she commenced a part-time human acupuncture course in Melbourne in 1984 graduating with a Diploma of Human Acupuncture in 1986. In 1985, Ulrike and Graham and four other Directors took over the running of the the Human Acupuncture College for 90 students in Hartwell, Melbourne, until that course was transferred to Victoria University some eight years later. Ulrike also played a huge role in developing and providing training in Veterinary Acupuncture and with others, Ulrike established the Australian IVAS Course in 1991 and was instrumental in developing and delivering the course curriculum up until early 2018. With her constant efforts, the course has been continually improved to ensure optimum learning experiences for veterinarians wanting to integrate acupuncture into their practices. Through her dedication and persistence this course will be run from 2019 through the Centre of Veterinary Education located at the University of Sydney by lecturers and demonstrators all taught by Ulrike. She has taught over 525 veterinarians in her time assisted by Dr. Carl Muller, Dr. Chris Robinson and other guest lecturers.
There is much more written in tributes that show Ulrike’s love of nature, plants and gardening, fantastic cook, speaker of fluent German, adventurous traveller, thorough researcher and an academic associate of Melbourne University, excellent financial manager and lover of music. She liked a party and was always a welcoming hostess. She formed deep friendships and family meant all to her.
Ulrike died peacefully at home on 16th November 2018 having been ill for almost a year. Over 300 people attended the Service which was a wonderful tribute to her and a celebration of her life of leadership, diligence and hard work. She made a difference in the lives of those she taught and was a highly regarded veterinary surgeon in the Geelong Community.
Much of the text material and photographs for this story has been supplied by Graham Hobbs included writings and letters from Ulrike’s Colleagues, Drs. Jennifer and Chris Robinson and Dr. Susanna Gamage. The Obituary in “The Age” from which the opening quote is taken is yet to be published in hard copy – the quote is from the online version published February 22, 2019. Story compiled by Althea Abraham who was a friend of Dr. Wurth.