Growing up in Dunmore East, Co. Waterford surrounded by horses including a number of her own show-jumpers sowed the seed for Emma Chedgey.
Emma’s interest in the equine sector snowballed throughout her childhood as she floated between her home soil and across the waters in Canada, where she lived for almost nine years.
“I’d do any work I could get, mucking out stables, and later helping to break and school young horses.” Emma explained to Catherina Cunnane of That’s Farming.
“I was a pretty average rider but I was always interested in the health of my horses and that’s where the interest in Veterinary came from.”
Emma pursued her life-long ambition and secured a place on Ireland’s only Veterinary Medicine degree programme offered by University College Dublin in 2007.
After graduating with her degree from the world-renowned institution, Emma spent the first number of years as a new graduate in a mixed practice in Wales before she moved into equine.
“It was a great experience and I learned a lot of practical and surgical skills as well as gaining the confidence to tackle a wide range of problems in all species.”
“I think this is a really great way to start your career as a young vet which seems to be becoming less common nowadays- a lot of vets are in a hurry to specialise as quickly as possible,” Emma added.
Lisadell Equine Hospital
The Waterford-native now lives near Navan, Co. Meath and is one of eight vets at Lisadell Equine Hospital. Joining as an assistant in 2015, Emma focuses mainly on studwork and artificial insemination; foal care and internal medicine.
The hospital offers a range of first-opinion and referral services in the greater Meath area and horses travel to the hospital from across Ireland, particularly for surgical issues.
“Having a well-equipped hospital means that we can follow through all our own cases with top-class diagnostic equipment and treatment facilities."
"In addition to surgical cases, we can manage critically-ill horses and foals with 24-hour care.” Emma highlighted.
"We are lucky to have our own board-certified specialist surgeon Simon Hennessy who offers a great service."
Emma outlined that there are several reasons why she enjoys her chosen lifestyle including working with the clientele and the team of vets; nurses and support staff.
“I really enjoy getting to know the clients and horses and seeing them succeed is very rewarding, getting mares in foal and watching them grow up or seeing a patient recover from injury or illness makes it all worthwhile.”
“I am lucky to work with a great team of vets, all with a wealth of experience and their own little niche in medicine or surgery. It means we all have scope to develop our own interests and I am always learning from the others.”
A juggling act
While the positives outweigh the negatives, Emma admits that it can be difficult to plan a life outside of work, although she chose this lifestyle knowing all too well what it entails. She noted that it can be difficult to organise a social life and revealed that this is not made easier by having several vet friends with clashing work rotas.
“It’s a sacrifice you know you are making when you get into this job though and if you enjoy your work then it’s more than worth the long hours!”
Emma highlighted that starting out as a new grad or in a new job is " really daunting' and stressed that recently qualified vets start as a highly-trained and educated but lack confidence in the application of skills.
“You invest a lot of time and commitment in becoming a vet and you want to do your best- unfortunately, real life is not like an exam and it’s impossible to get an “A” all the time," Emma said.
“Learning to accept when things don’t go right takes time but you have to realise a good outcome is not always possible!”
Emma advises all young aspiring vets to obtain as much experience as possible and suggests that vet students consider mixed practice when they graduate.
“If you have a clear plan to specialise that’s great too but if not, you’ll be in practice for a long time and there’s no harm getting a range of experience starting out."
"You might find you excel at something you’d never have expected,” Emma said.
Satisfied in her current role, Emma will continue to fill the shoes as a vet in Lisadell Equine Hospital. She has a desire to further her veterinary medicine studies. She is currently working towards gaining a Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice in Equine Reproduction and Internal Medicine through the University of Liverpool.
“I’m pretty happy where I am right now. I’m also getting married at the end of this year so I’m looking forward to taking some time off then!” Emma concluded.If you are a vet and you wish to share your story, email - email@example.com - and you may be featured next week.