Making a mark on Macquarie Island: Meg’s Story

Picture Graeme Freeman

Picture Graeme Freeman

“Let’s do it – I will write again after I battle through the seals to the gym and back!” Such was Meg McKeown’s response when first contacted about writing about her work with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) on Macquarie Island. A former veterinarian who has retrained as a medical doctor, McKeown is currently employed by the AAD as the doctor servicing Macquarie Island Station, known to the small number of inhabitants as ‘Macca’.

During winter, the human population of the island amounts to little more than a dozen, while in summer the island can accommodate as many as forty people. As McKeown’s comment suggests, however, the vast majority of the island’s other inhabitants include various types of seals, sea lions, petrels, albatross and penguins, many of which use Macquarie Island as a breeding ground.

Located in the Southern Ocean about halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica, Macquarie Island is about as remote as it gets. The island is 34 kilometres long and five kilometres wide, and its climatic conditions are moderated by the surrounding seas, Continue reading Making a mark on Macquarie Island: Meg’s Story

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

Face to Face: A surgeon’s inspiration

Ilana Mendels and Jeff Mayo.There’s something almost savant-like about world renowned veterinary surgeon Jeff Mayo. He has a compulsion to learn how everything works – and the quiet confidence that he can master it if he sets his mind to it. Even if that means repeating the same task over and over until he achieves perfection.

Mayo, who in July taught two tibial tuberosity advancement workshops hosted by VetPrac at two Australian universities, credits his success to a series of remarkable role models – including his own veterinarian.

I was twelve years old, I’d just bought a horse, and this guy came out to do a health check. That was the day I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian. I spent every day with him til the day I went to college.”

Irv LeVine was something of a renaissance man, not only practicing as a veterinarian but singing and recording music, flying planes and horsing around.

His approach to life in general wore off on me,” Mayo said. “The man just has fun all the time. He doesn’t fight, he doesn’t argue, his medicine was very practical.”

But Mayo didn’t proceed directly to veterinary school. He undertook a degree in respiratory therapy through Boise State University before working as a respiratory therapist at Duke University Medical Centre.

A respiratory therapist (RT) or inhalation therapist, he explains, is an allied health worker trained in the assessment and treatment of breathing disorders including asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. RTs specialise and advise doctors on airway management, mechanical ventilation and acid-base balance.

Mayo proved good at it. In less than twelve month’s he had completed every one of the hospitals 16 additional RT qualifications. He practiced for four years until the hunger for veterinary science drew him back to college.

Mayo was recognised early as a gifted student at Oregon State University College, and something of an entrepreneur. He continued to practice as an RT to pay his way through veterinary school – with the permission of the Dean. Continue reading Face to Face: A surgeon’s inspiration