The path of a polymath: Lloyd Reeve-Johnson


Lloyd Reeve-JohnsonMany Australians have read about veterinarian Lloyd Reeve-Johnson in his capacity as a live export investigator, particularly when his journey to Mauritius to examine flaws in regulation of the trade gained national media coverage.

During the trip he noted pregnant cattle, misleading paperwork, unaccounted calf euthanasia and a general failure to implement OIE recommendations.

However his interest in the live animal trade is a relatively small part of an impressively polymathic career which encompasses areas such as drug development, education and even a novel.

The 43-year-old grew up internationally, spending his childhood in remote rural Zimbabwe and feeling the influence of the generations of farming in his family.

More drawn to animals than crops, he rode horses from the age of three and looked forward to one day owning the family cattle ranch.

“Becoming a veterinarian seemed the logical way to add value to the animal management and breeding aspects of the ranch,” Reeve-Johnson said.

And so after attending the historic Rugby School in Warwickshire, UK, he moved on to a veterinary degree at Edinburgh University.

Reeve-Johnson worked as a country vet in the South of Scotland/North of England for a pleasant couple of years (“in a clinic very akin to that described in the James Herriot novels”), before being hired by a multinational, an experience which brought him to 60 countries over an eight year period.

“I was able to use my foreign languages on a weekly basis, work in some fascinating cultures across emerging Eastern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia at a time of a lot of change and growth,” he said.

Reeve-Johnson assisted in the development of some new treatments such as the macrolide antibiotic Tilmicosin, which is sold in 120 countries.

He was also involved in the development of ionophores, hormones as well as number of companion animal products, including some which were used to assist human drug development.

The experience in the corporate world helped Reeve-Johnson acquire the necessary nous to establish the PetDoctors UK clinic chain in 2002 with two other vets and a banker.

PetDoctors grew from a couple of branches with a dozen staff to 28 multi-vet clinics, a major tertiary referral site and a large diagnostic laboratory (Greendale Diagnostics) within a few years.

Expansion enabled Reeve-Johnson and his team to release some of their own branded products and conduct ethical research in to new treatments.

In 2005 Reeve-Johnson moved to Australian and was appointed Head of Veterinary School at the University of Queensland, spending an “interesting couple of years” of reform.

Continue reading The path of a polymath: Lloyd Reeve-Johnson

Cat-friendly crusader Andrea Harvey

Andrea at the Gap National ParkFeline patients are notoriously challenging: some are difficult to handle, others become so stressed at the vet their blood glucose skyrockets, and the mere scent of a vet is enough to manifest profound physiological changes including pyrexia, tachypnoea and dyspnoea. But according to feline specialist Andrea Harvey, there is much the average vet can do to make cats more comfortable.

Harvey, a UK-qualified feline specialist who relocated to Australia last year, has been working in conjunction with the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) on its ‘Cat Friendly Clinic’ scheme since 2005.

The program is designed to provide veterinary clinics with educational resources to reduce the stress to cats visiting the vet, and acknowledging veterinary clinics that do make measures to make their clinics as least stressful as possible for cats.  

None of this is really rocket science,” Harvey said. “But I think that often as vets we are good at focusing on complex problems and missing the small simple things that make a big difference, and I am absolutely adamant that this forms an essential foundation for feline medicine.”

Harvey graduated from Bristol University in 2000, when feline medicine was in its infancy (the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, now the go-to publication on any feline affliction, was launched in 1999).

I was exceptionally lucky to be mentored and inspired as an undergraduate by feline specialists such as Tim Gruffydd-Jones and Andy Sparkes around that time,” she said. “When I went out into practice I realised how much cats were still being treated like small dogs and second class citizens, and I just wanted to do a better job with them than that.” Continue reading Cat-friendly crusader Andrea Harvey

Burnout: an occupational hazard we cannot ignore

It is well established that veterinarians suffer a higher suicide rate than the general adult population.

Research by former Australian Veterinary Association President Helen Jones found that veterinarians were four times more likely to take their lives when compared to non-veterinarians.

In absolute numbers, the number of veterinarians who commit suicide is not high, however, compared with the average suicide rate for the general population, it is high. Suicide in our profession is the tip of an iceberg that none of us can afford to ignore. It is likely that far greater numbers of veterinarians suffer from burnout – physical and psychological fatigue brought about by chronic stress and anxiety. Continue reading Burnout: an occupational hazard we cannot ignore