Hailing from an Agricultural background in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, Orla O’Connor knew from her early childhood years that Veterinary Medicine was her calling.
Working in Kilcoyne Veterinary Practice at a tender age during her school years allowed Orla to be exposed to the demanding yet satisfying nature of the profession.
‘I have always wanted to be a vet from a very young age. A lot of people tried to tell me it wasn’t for me, but there wasn’t any other career that I wanted to pursue.’ Orla told That’s Farming.
Following the Dream
In 2010, Orla did just that and fuelled with ambition and walked out the doors of University College Dublin with her golden Veterinary Medicine degree. She secured full-time employment immediately at Glenamaddy Veterinary Clinic and to this day, continues to be a resident vet of the practice.
The Clinic now has four animal vets, on a one-in-three rota which cover thousands of large and small animal cases, over a large geographical area, expanding as far as the Galway border.
‘The rota is good in the sense that we can enjoy our weekends. It makes our lifestyles a lot easier. However, it’s unlike across the waters in the U.K. where there are one-in-fifteen rotas in place in clinics. That’s a massive difference.’ Orla added.
Exploring all aspects of the Veterinary sector continues to remain her long-term objective, with proof in the fact that her attention turned to Animal Surgery during her college study. Orla dedicated three to four months with a large animal veterinary surgeon, which allowed her to focus on routine procedures and the study of ruminants.
Herd Health and Surgeries dominate her main interests within the sector.
‘I find it very interesting and we are definitely moving more into the area. Farmers realise the potential of prevention as opposed to treatment. They see the benefits of putting money into vaccinations as opposed to medical treatment remedies, within reason. It also links in with the Knowledge Transfer programme.’ Orla added.
Ms. O’ Connor also expresses an interest in Bovine Reproduction and has recently branched into Bull Fertility testing, semen analysis and Ultrasound testing services.
While calving cases are by far the most enjoyable aspect of the profession for Orla, she realises that one has to anticipate associated challenges.
‘It can be disheartening when you perform a caesarean to the best of your ability, as always and then the calf dies, despite your efforts. That then makes you appreciate cases where you deliver a live calf, leaving the farm with a happy farmer, healthy cow and a live calf.’ Orla told That’s Farming.
Local Community Involvement
Outside of her Veterinary Medicine commitments, Orla is an active member of her local community and devotes a lot of her time to wildlife. She volunteered for Sligo Animal Rescue, which closed its doors earlier in the 2017 calendar.
‘I do a lot with local wildlife, caring for orphaned hares, rabbits, hedgehogs, and deer. Puppies, dogs and kittens are also cared for.I find it rewarding doing this and rehabilitating this after their injuries and getting them back to the wild.’ Orla added.
Advice for young aspiring vets
Orla is an ideal candidate to advise young aspiring vets and has taken many young people under her wing.
In order to allow the youth to get a feel for the Veterinary world, Orla takes on numerous students from the locality and indeed across the waters, with the majority travelling from Germany to complete a three-moment placement.
Sharing knowledge and words of wisdom is something that Orla can take great pride in.
‘Go out and see the real deal and find out what it exactly involves. People don’t realise the blood, the muck and the dirt that you find yourself in. It’s different to reading it in a book, as practical experience is paramount. You can’t place a value on getting as much work experience as possible.’ Orla concluded.
Orla, satisfied in her current role has intentions to continue her work in the large-animal branch and simultaneously gain a foot holding in small animals, as the clinic’s small animal reputation continues to grow in the area.
"Starting a family and sheep farming also are in the pipeline," Orla concluded.