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HomeEditor's PicksThinking of a career in veterinary nursing?
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Thinking of a career in veterinary nursing?

A Career in Veterinary Nursing

A veterinary nurse is responsible for the welfare, comfort and recovery of animals that may have undergone surgery or trauma or are receiving treatment for medical conditions.

In many cases, they act as a support to other veterinary staff, including surgeons, within the team.

Veterinary nurses are responsible for providing triage and intensive care, along with some surgical, medical and reception duties– depending on a practice’s requirements.

Some responsibilities may include:

  • Wound management;
  • Performing minor medical procedures;
  • Preparing animals for surgery;
  • Performing diagnostic tests (X-rays, blood sampling, etc.);
  • Assisting with surgical procedures;
  • Fluid therapy;
  • Administering intravenous medication administrative support.

To practice as a veterinary nurse in Ireland, you must successfully complete and graduate from a VCI accredited/recognised course to enable you to register with the council.

Last year, we published an article with commentary from a spokesperson from the VCI (Veterinary Council of Ireland) in relation to veterinary nursing courses that can lead to a career in the field.

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You can find out about these courses and how you can register with the VCI to practice upon graduation in this news article.

Vet nurses: Pathways to the career

As part of our regular Career Focus segment, we commonly publish profiles on those practicing as veterinary nurses or undertaking training to do so.

Here is a sample of those who have shared an insight into their journey with That’s Farming’s readers:

  • Fionnuala Ann Byrne

Fionnuala Ann Byrne is the head veterinary nurse in a bustling veterinary hospital, The Avenue Vets, in Dundalk, Co Louth.

She comes from the drumlin-dotted countryside just outside Carrickmacross in south Co. Monaghan.

She told Clodagh Hughes: “From a really young age, I used to help my aunty on her sheep farm. I helped her with shearing, foot care and lambing.”

“And it is from here that my interest in wanting to work with animals developed.”

Although she knew that she wanted a career working with animals, Fionnuala Ann did not go straight into veterinary nursing.

After completing her Leaving Certified, she studied art for two years and then worked in an electronics factory in Carrickmacross for a stint before she secured a job at the Avenue Vets in Dundalk.

“It was during my time here that I got accepted onto a pre-veterinary nursing course in Greenmount, Co. Antrim in 2002-2003.”

And this is truly where her career in veterinary nursing started.

After finishing the first level of her training, Fionnuala Ann continued to study, alongside working full-time in the industry until she completed her qualifications as a veterinary nurse.

Read her profile in full.

  • Laura Heavey

It is never too late to pursue your dream career, and Laura Heavey is a testament to that.

The 28-year-old, hails from a suckler farm in Athenry, Co Galway, that has been in her family for over two centuries.

She is involved in its running, whilst working full-time in a medical device factory (evening-based position) and studying for a veterinary nursing degree.

After completing her Leaving Certificate in 2011, she enrolled in an equine science course before later deciding against pursuing this.

The following year, she accepted a place in the BSc in agriculture and environmental management degree that Mountbellew Agricultural College delivers in conjunction with GMIT.

“It was during this course that I did work experience on a dairy farm and realised I have a love of milking and all that it entails,” she revealed.

On completion of her four years between the two educational providers, she secured a position on a dairy farm in Athy, Co Kildare.

She remained here from November 2016 to July 2018 before returning home to begin working evening shifts with her current employer whilst running the family farm during the day.

She told our editor, Catherina Cunnane: “It is only last year at 27 that I decided to bite the bullet and follow my dream of becoming a veterinary nurse.”

“I applied as a mature student. When I did my Leaving Certificate, I had applied for both vet nursing and equine science but ended up going for equine science.”

Read about her journey to her dream veterinary nursing career through this link.

  • Caoimhe Ferry

In 2021, Caoimhe Ferry told us about ho her journey in the veterinary industry began back in 2018 when she joined the practice as a receptionist.

Although she expressed an interest in veterinary nursing in her earlier years, initially, she did not think “it was possible” to turn her passion for animals into a career.

“When I was in school, I went down the financial services route for further education. At the time, I thought this what I wanted as I knew no different,” she told That’s Farming.

“There were never any career talks around veterinary nursing or any advertisement of the career. So I really did not know it was a possibility for me.”

An ample opportunity arose when she stumbled across a job advertisement seeking a receptionist for Spires Vets.

James, the practice’s founder, contacted her days after her interview to offer her the position. “When I went for my interview and got to see the clinic, I knew this was where I was meant to be.”

“I cannot even describe how happy I was when James offered me the job. After working in the practice for only a few weeks, he gave me the go-ahead to get a step closer to becoming a veterinary nurse.”

As a result, Caoimhe applied to Greenmount Agricultural College to study its one-year animal nursing assistant course before starting her level 3 diploma.

“I am so grateful to the Spires team for giving me the opportunity to follow my heart and work towards my dream career.”

“To be honest, it was not for years after I finished school that I was even aware there was such a job.”

“It seemed like something so far from what my reality should be that I had never even considered going into the veterinary field.”

“My studies started when I joined Spires. Each day I was learning more and more, and it has been so helpful. I officially enrolled on the course in CAFRE Greenmount in September 2020.”

Read her story.

To share your story, email – [email protected]

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