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Career Profile: Veterinary Nurse

Lisa Marie Walsh, Templeorum, Kilkenny, aged 23, recently graduated from St. John’s Central College in Cork with a qualification in Veterinary Nursing.

Having always had a passion for animals from a tender age and owning her first dog, at age three, she has always wanted to pursue a career in this area. Receiving the all-clear from her leukaemia diagnosis aged 5, it was then Lisa Marie met with Lizzie Burcher, a professional show jumper for Ireland who took her to her yard and introduced her to horses, teaching her how to ride. For her, this whole experience is the reason for her love of animals and where it all began.

‘It was in secondary school I realised that Veterinary Nursing would be a good profession for me but unfortunately I didn’t get enough points in my Leaving Certificate to go study it. I also did an interview for St. John’s Central College but unfortunately I wasn’t offered a place.’ Lisa Marie went on to study Equine Science at University of Limerick, but after suffering a severe fall and surgery during her first year, she decided not to return.

After, she progressed to Carlow College of Further Education to study Animal Care for one year. Using FETAC (QQI) points which she had obtained, as a result of completing the Animal Care course she decided to apply for St. John’s Central College in Cork and UCD. ‘I was very lucky to be offered a place in both colleges but I opted to go to Cork instead of Dublin as it seemed more financially achievable.’

She completed St. John’s Central’s two year Level 6 Animal Science course, which is accredited by the Veterinary Council of Ireland, allowing those who successfully pass the course to register as a veterinary nurse. She graduated on 19th November 2015 with her degree.

During the completion of Animal Science at St John’s Central she completed professional work experience placements which aided her to practise for exams and gain insights of knowledge at a wide variety of places which included Gillabey Veterinary Hospital in Togher and Value Vets in Blackpool, with the majority of her time spent in Suirside Veterinary Clinic in Tipperary , where she received a part-time job. ‘To be honest, nursing is different to what I had expected it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret studying it but it is different to my expectation.

I originally thought it would be all caring for animals and surgeries. But realistically you do a million different jobs, a cleaner, a receptionist, a radiographer, an anaesathist, a surgical assistant and many more. It can also be a very emotionally draining job. You just don’t know what’s going to come through the door or how serious it could be. I volunteer with Deise Animal Sanctuary and some of the welfare cases I’ve seen can be horrific.’

Lisa Marie plans to return to Canada again to practise there if no jobs arise. ‘I’ve applied for a few jobs and if nothing turns up here I would love to go to Canada again and practice over there. We will just have to wait and see what happens. It is a waiting game’ she added.

‘My advice to anyone who wants to pursue veterinary nursing would be that you should go do work experience and talk to other nurses. Always be yourself, don’t let the fact there are more men in the industry put you down, don’t let anyone hold you back. And if at first you don’t succeed, there is always another way. I took the long route, but I eventually got where I wanted to be.’

Article by: Catherina Cunnane