When Aoife Walsh did not secure sufficient CAO points to study Veterinary Nursing in 2016, she opted for Plan B.
The Laois native completed a Level-5 Certificate in Animal Care offered by Carlow Institute of Further Education and later secured a place on Athlone Institute of Technology’s Veterinary Nursing programme.
20-year-old Aoife is now in her second year of the three-year course.
“I always wanted to go down the veterinary medicine or veterinary nursing route ever since I was a child.” Aoife Walsh told Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming
“I watched TV programmes like “Vets On Call” and from then on, I realised that all I wanted to do was work with animals.”
Her desire to pursue a career in this field was sparked during her early childhood; the keen horse rider grew up surrounded by cattle and numerous small animals.
“My Grandad had a great influence on my career path; he kept me up-to-date with farming and always involved me in it from a young age.
“I always knew I wanted a job that was more hands-on rather than sitting in an office all day.” She added.
Aoife believes that the practical experience she gained when working with animals from a young age and studying Agricultural Science at second-level have enhanced her overall understanding of the discipline.
“I absolutely love my course even though it is very tough and intense. In first year, we had long days and plenty of study was involved but it helps to ensure we will all be good Veterinary Nurses at the end of it.”
Athlone IT Veterinary Nursing students attend Gurteen Agricultural College as part of placement every year to gain hands-on experience during the spring period.
Aoife increased her understanding of all aspects of animal husbandry including dosing; vaccination; nutrition; health; calving and handling during placement.
“It was great craic and I learned lots; it was a welcome break from lectures. We spent every day out on the farm from dawn to dusk either with dairy; beef; sheep or horses.” She outlined.
Aoife completed the remaining eight weeks at Portlaoise Veterinary Clinic; she works at the small animal clinic based in Co. Laois on Saturdays throughout the academic year.
“It’s a practical role so that helps with my college coursework and I am also surrounded by a brilliant team. It’s great being in a practice that really encourages students and trusts them.”
“Some people don’t realise how physical and hands-on veterinary nursing is. You are on your feet all day long and everything involves strength.”
“It is also mentally tiring as you are constantly thinking but it is an extremely rewarding job and every day is different,” Aoife explained.
Aoife firmly believes that second-level students should take time in Transition Year to explore key areas of interest and to identify potential career paths.
“Students should complete work placement before selecting a course. If you enjoy the work placement, then you’ll enjoy the future work.”
“If you don’t think you’ll get into the course under the current points system, there are plenty of backdoors into everything.” She said.
Looking forward, Aoife’s main priority is to work towards gaining a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing degree.
She will complete equine placement during Summer-2019 and will gain experience in a large animal practice from January-May in her final year.
“Getting the most experience I can out working is so important. I don’t really mind working with large animal or small animal as I enjoy working with them all.”
“I would love to travel for a while to see how veterinary works in the rest of the world but I will definitely be looking for a job at home.” She concluded.
If you are a third-level student and you want to share your story, email - firstname.lastname@example.org - and you may be featured on That’s Farming next week.