Lee Hui En, Christine is a veterinarian with the Animal & Veterinary Programme Office at National Parks Board. The NParks Overseas Undergraduate Scholar holds a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine with Honours from Royal Veterinary College, London.
WWhat do a pet cat, Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) and Christine Lee, NParks Overseas Undergraduate Scholar, have to do with each other?
The answer is: they all play a part in improving animal health in Singapore.
If you are wondering how, the answer is surprisingly simple. It begins with National Parks Board (NParks) and its position as the lead agency and one-stop service for animal and plant health for the entirety of Singapore.
In order to maintain our high standard of liveability, our animals need to be as happy and healthy as our humans. That is where Christine steps in – this veterinarian does not do visits or consultations, but works at the national scale to develop animal health and veterinary-related policies and programmes and enhance professional standards for the veterinary sector in Singapore.
That is the CSI part. To make informed policy decisions, Christine sometimes carries out necropsies on animal carcasses to analyse their cause of death. Just like in the crime show, the data collected provides vital clues about diseases that may be spreading amongst our animals and how we can prevent them.
After all, every living thing deserves a long, fulfilling life, whether it walks on two legs, four paws, or any number of feelers.
Connected to Nature
Since childhood, Christine felt deeply connected to all the wonders of the natural world. She kept pets, excelled at science, and naturally, dreamed of becoming a vet.
But as with many dreams, she wondered if it was feasible in the “real world”. Was there enough demand in the job market for veterinarians, and what sort of work would they do?
While she was searching for scholarships, NParks’ offer stood out in particular. “The availability of the scholarship revealed to me that Singapore needed veterinarians in public service,” said Christine. “This alleviated my initial doubts on whether a career in veterinary medicine in Singapore was worth pursuing.”
Under the scholarship, Christine would be a very different kind of vet, a prospect which she was eager to embrace. “The themes of contributing to a cause larger than myself, and bringing science and policy together deeply resonated with me.”
“While it was not necessarily a traditional career path for a veterinarian, working in public service would enable me to have a positive impact on people’s lives at a national and international level. This sounded both exciting and intellectually stimulating.”
Animals Here, There, Everywhere!
Christine was selected for the scholarship and found herself studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine with Honours at Royal Veterinary College, London. Her education had a farsighted outlook, and Christine found that her skills and experiences were not limited to the classroom.
This broader mindset was especially needful upon her return to Singapore, where she started work in the Animal & Veterinary Programme Office developing approaches to preventing and managing emerging infectious and zoonotic diseases. She was a key team member of Operation Vax Lyssa, an annual dog rabies vaccination exercise in fish farms off the coast of Singapore.
There is the CSI part: “My work in the Centre for Animal & Veterinary Sciences involves carrying out necropsies on animal carcasses and analysing biopsy samples as part of providing laboratory diagnostic services for Singapore.”
“The data gathered in turn provides us with information on the disease profiles of animals in Singapore.”
Such vital data has multiple applications, informing animal health and trade policies on local and global levels.
In the course of her work, she found her university studies useful in unexpected ways. Policy development requires sharp writing skills and the ability to communicate complex scientific information to a variety of audiences. She found herself drawing on her academic background to introduce new ideas and animal health initiatives effectively.
In this way, Christine’s vital work safeguards animal health and welfare at the national level.
Christine is not only a great vet, but a great singer as well! She has performed with the University of London Chamber Choir and undertook an international tour to Malta.
Variety in Vet Science
NParks led Christine to a career in animal policy, but the huge organisation has many other opportunities awaiting its scholars. These include community outreach activities, animal and wildlife management programmes, import and export work, and carrying out audits on animal-related businesses.
But when it came to advice about a career at NParks, Christine emphasised not only the variety of placements but the growth opportunities for the individual. “Working at NParks offers opportunities to participate in discussions on key animal health issues with veterinary professionals from around the world.”
“There are also plenty of opportunities to assist in disease investigations and be at the frontline of safeguarding animal health in Singapore.”
By choosing NParks, you choose not a career but a cause in life for other lives around you.