Edmund Choo shares how he is able to make a difference to the lives of animals and Singaporeans as a vet in AVA.
Why did you choose the AVA Undergraduate Scholarship? Who influenced you most to take up this scholarship?
I have always been a hands-on person, and have explored various career options such as being a chef, dentist and carpenter. I developed an interest in animals when my family adopted two bunnies that were about to be abandoned. Since then, I enjoy spending time with animals and reading about them. I was also inspired by a book ‘Tell Me Where It Hurts’ by Dr. Nick Trout, which offers an insider perspective to the life of a veterinarian.
As my interest in working and caring for animals grew, I knew I wanted to be a vet. I was convinced that this would be the most apt and fulfilling career path for me, as I would be able to pursue my interest in animals and involved in hands-on experiences.
However, beyond treating animals, I knew I wanted to do more and make a difference to the lives of animals and Singaporeans. As a vet in AVA, I would have the opportunity to pursue my passion for animals and contribute to issues that would have a far-reaching impact on animals in Singapore. With that motivation in mind, I decided to apply for the scholarship.
Share with us your internship experience with AVA.
After completing my National Service in 2011, I took up a six-month internship programme with AVA. During the internship, I was involved in the scanning of the global horizon to anticipate threats and opportunities, and increase AVA’s strategic preparedness.
During the six months, I was given the freedom to explore and learn at my own pace. It was an enriching experience where I was exposed to AVA’s different policies and functions. Through this internship, I realised that I could accomplish many things as a vet and be involved in issues that impact Singaporeans and animals. This reaffirmed my decision to take up the AVA Undergraduate Scholarship, and pursue my interest to be a vet.
Tell us about your current role at AVA.
There is never a boring day at work in AVA, and we are constantly challenged. As a vet in the Import and Export Regulation Department, I facilitate the regulatory aspect of the import and export of animals, animal products and biologics. This involves ensuring imported animals are healthy and disease-free, and I take pride in knowing that my work helps to safeguard animal and public health.
In addition, I am involved in the review of inspection programmes, inspecting premises, and conducting pre-export house inspections. I have also had the opportunity to be exposed to the various functions in AVA, and participated in the inspection of livestock for the annual Korban, as well as the vaccination of dogs on coastal fish farms. I was also involved in the import of live pigs from Sarawak to Singapore in 2017, the first in 18 years!
What are some notable projects that you have worked on?
Currently, one of the main areas of my work in AVA is on antimicrobial resistance. Antibiotic resistance has accelerated in recent years due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, and is a global threat that affects both animals and humans. As a member of the AVA Antimicrobial Resistance team, I had the opportunity to work with other government officers from other agencies to develop the National Strategic Action Plan on this area.
What do you find fulfilling about your role?
As a vet in AVA, there are many opportunities for me to apply my skills and knowledge, and experience various facets of the veterinary profession. As the national authority on animal welfare and management, food security and plant health, AVA plays a critical role in the everyday lives of Singaporeans. I am constantly motivated by the knowledge that what I do will have a positive and far-reaching impact on the nation.
What developmental opportunities have you enjoyed as an AVA Scholar?
AVA offers many development opportunities for skills upgrading such as overseas training sessions, leadership development programmes, job rotations, secondment to other agencies, and postgraduate programmes.
I had the opportunity to attend a regional training workshop on antimicrobial resistance in Bangkok in 2016. I also went on a study trip to Hong Kong where I met with research institutes and government counterparts to discuss and learn about food safety controls. These experiences have given me a good overview of AVA, and deepened my understanding of AVA’s role in safeguarding our nation’s food safety and animal and public health.
What do you look forward to in your career with AVA?
AVA offers a broad scope of work, and there is never a dull moment working here. Since joining AVA, it has broadened my perspectives on animal, food and public health issues, and it is a constant learning process for me. I hope to continue on this learning journey, and I look forward to postgraduate opportunities to grow and further my knowledge.
I have always believed that ‘how you do anything, is how you do everything’. I hope to continue to serve the public through my work, and will always give my all in whatever I do.
What advice do you have for aspiring AVA Scholars?
The scholarship offers an opportunity to pursue your dream degree, and can help to ease the financial load. However, it is important to look beyond this and consider whether a career in AVA resonates strongly with your long-term goals. Be honest with what you hope to achieve through this scholarship, and if you are keen on working and dealing with issues on a national level, AVA might just be the place for you.
As you embark on your university education, enjoy it to the best you can and create lasting memories for yourself.
DR. EDMUND CHOO JIA QING
AVA Undergraduate Scholarship
Attained: Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, University of Glasgow
Now: Veterinarian, Import & Export Regulation Department, Quarantine & Inspection Group
From: National JC