College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences
8 February 2023
Related Study Areas
Tropical training in veterinary care
JCU Alumni Regan Lynch says that she’s always had her sights set on veterinary science. Now a vet working in North West Queensland, Regan shares what it’s like to work in a mixed practice clinic and her plans to branch out into biosecurity research with the Nuffield Scholarship.
“I grew up in Far North Queensland on the Tropical Coast. I always knew I wanted to be a vet and JCU was where I wanted to learn to become one,” Regan says.
Looking to gain wide experience in veterinary science, Regan ventured south in 2015 after graduating from her Bachelor of Veterinary Science. “I worked in the northern part of Victoria for a few years in a mixed practice veterinary clinic that also had a dairy cow focus,” she says.
But the north called and a few years later Regan was back in Queensland. “After that, I came back to North West Queensland so I could be closer to home,” she says. “I now work in a mixed practice that similarly shifts between different types of veterinary care. I spend a lot of time servicing extensive beef operations in the North West region, as well as doing a lot of performance horse work. We also service our small animal clients, including everything from dogs and cats to chickens. We’ll look at any animal that people can bring to see us.”
Regan says that she loves getting out on the farms and assisting producers. “My passion is really with beef cattle. In my family history we’ve all been really involved with beef production, so it’s been my passion since I was very young,” she says.
Vet care ‘til the cattle come home
Regan says working in a mixed practice veterinary clinic allows her to pursue her passion for cattle and also help people care for their companion animals.
“Often the work can be very varied. I could be doing pregnancy diagnosis in the morning on beef cattle, coming back to the clinic in the afternoon to vaccinate cats and dogs, and then later taking x-rays of horses. So, every day is a very diverse day for us,” Regan says. “Being in the clinic is such a nice way to spend time with clients and animals. You really get to build relationships. That’s why I also love seeing people’s cats and dogs as well."
Working at the Great Artesian Veterinary Surgery, Regan says she's been able to gain wide experience working throughout North West Queensland. “My boss has been very supportive of what I’m doing. We have a very strong female-led workforce. We’re all women in our clinic and we’re very proud of that and to be bush girls doing it for themselves,” she says.
When she goes out to cattle farms, Regan says there is an exciting and challenging array of work to be done. “Day to day, my role as a veterinarian can be very varied, but a lot of our energy is focused on assisting producers around management choices,” she says. “Often that involves pregnancy diagnosis, breeding soundness examinations on their bulls, but also disease investigations and working out potential threats to their production systems. We’re also working to ensure that their husbandry is working well and develop methods to increase productivity in their operations.
“Working with beef cattle is my passion. I enjoy getting to do breeding soundness examinations as I find it’s a really great way to communicate with clients and you get to spend a lot of time talking about the animals. You can present some of the results immediately and you can build on that conversation when we later get the lab results back.”
Preserving Australia’s biosecurity
Central to her passion for the cattle industry and its protection in Australia, Regan was recently named as the 2023 Nuffield Scholar. Supported by Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia, Regan plans to travel Australia and internationally to investigate farms’ attitudes to biosecurity.
“Biosecurity has always been something that’s very close to me. I’m very passionate about it in the context of northern Australia, which is where I feel at home,” she says. “I’m really excited to see where this research takes me. I’m also so happy to be part of this network of very passionate Australians who are looking to further their knowledge and disseminate information about their industries.
“With emerging animal disease, like foot and mouth disease, lumpy skin disease or even rabies, there is often a lot of discussion about what the government is doing to combat it. That is really important, but often in northern cattle industries, we’re very reliant on our producers to notice and speak up if something isn’t right or there may be a disease occurring,” Regan says. “It’s really important to have producers flagging these problems so they can be investigated, identified and action can be taken to reduce the negative impact.”
“It’s really important to have vets on the ground in regional and rural areas so that we can pick up on these diseases and ensure that we don’t allow these outbreaks to devastate our industries.”
JCU Alumni Regan Lynch
“So, what I want to research is whether people working in these industries — agents, ringers, and managers — experience any barriers to reporting concerns around biosecurity and disease. If there are any barriers, how can we develop stronger relationships between vets and those people responsible for reporting? It’s really important to make sure that people are comfortable to pick up the phone and report if they are concerned and something might need investigating.
“It can be very stressful — emotionally and financially — for producers to have to deal with animal diseases,” Regan says. “Our farmers can experience a lot of stress and tension because of this, but we need to assure everyone that they can say something and they won’t be penalised for it.”
In terms of the future, Regan says she is committed to practicing animal medicine but would like to continue developing her interest in research and policy. “I want to make sure we can fully utilise on-the-ground knowledge and ensure that policy can match the practicalities of farming. I want to ensure that we all get a voice at the table so that we can reach the best possible outcomes for everyone.”