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HomeFarming NewsChasing a ‘lifelong’ dream of becoming a vet nurse
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Chasing a ‘lifelong’ dream of becoming a vet nurse

20-year-old Maia Hanlon, a farmer from Markethill Co. Armagh, is chasing her childhood dream.

Growing up on a mixed farm, with sheep, cattle and horses, along with some small animals, led to a desire to become a veterinary nurse.

“From the age of five, I took into horse riding and my love for animals grew rapidly,” she explained to Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming.

“I was very young to make career-related decisions, but as I grew older, I knew that working with animals is what I wanted to do.”

“My very first farming memory was my first time lambing when my stepfather left me in control – it was the warmest place to be out on the sheep farm.”


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Maia juggles her farming commitment switch her studies at Edinburgh Napier University. “I have four years (a BSc (Hons) degree) to complete before I graduate with my lifelong career.” the second-year student explained.

She began this course in September 2018 after obtaining an extended diploma in applied science at Armagh Southern Regional College; she completed placement in a local veterinary practice before she set her sights on the industry.

“I started work placement in 2017 which entailed visit stud farms to complete AI, helping within the clinic through surgeries and helping to conduct TB tests and assisting the on-call vet.”

“I had to complete 4 weeks of animal experience which was vital as many universities that offer veterinary career paths require a moderate amount of hands-on experience.”

Throughout the duration of the four-year degree, students are required to complete in the region of 48-60 weeks of placement; candidates can also avail of an opportunity to undertake a work-based learning module abroad.

“I have completed all my placement weeks within the Willow Veterinary Clinic, Portadown; this clinic is a mixed practice, so I, therefore, get a hands-on experience within large (farm) animals, small animals and even exotics.”

The big leap

Maia admitted that she was “slightly apprehensive” about moving overseas at the beginning of her degree. “Once I got over and got into my lectures, I knew I wanted to give it a go as I found everything we were learning about, interesting.”

“I have met some amazing people throughout my course, and they have helped me stick through the homesickness.”

“I would definitely recommend this course as it teaches you not only how to live away from home, but also it will never make a day’s work boring if working with animals is what you desire.”


Once she completes the four-year degree programme, the 20-year-old plans to travel to experience the veterinary industry on a global scale.

She has a desire to further her studies and complete a marine biology course, which stems from her interest in sharks and sea life.

“My ultimate goal is to travel the world with my studies and gain as much knowledge as I can within different sectors of veterinary.”

“Within the veterinary/farming industry, there will always be challenges, but there is not a day goes by when you don’t learn something new every day.”

“I cannot wait to get out and face them as I find everything within the veterinary industry interesting and rewarding.”

“Veterinary nursing is the most heart-warming, cheering job and I am so honoured to be studying what I love, animals,” Maia concluded.

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