Female Times: Vet Nurses in Practice

By Chapman, Sandra | The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), February 23, 2000 | Go to article overview
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Female Times: Vet Nurses in Practice

Chapman, Sandra, The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

The latest must-have career is veterinary nursing, after a surfeit of programmes such as Vets in Practice, Animal Hospital and Battersea Dog's Home. Many young people see themselves as potential Shauna Lowrys but television hides the hard, dirty work, the gory bits and the heartbreak. SANDRA CHAPMAN talks to two of the students on the first ever College course here which offers training for this demanding job.

SHAUNA Lowry makes it looks so easy. So too do the nurses in Vets in Practice.

They stand before the operating table, immaculately clad, not a hair out of place taking instruction from the glamorous Trudy Mostue.

They're not likely to be filmed out in a field attending to a ewe that needs a caesarean; nor do we see the heartbreak when animals don't survive.

Colette Fergus and Janice Currie have seen it all, felt the pain, cleaned up the messes and still fall in love with the animals they treat.

Both are first year students on the course at Enniskillen Agriculture College, the only one of its kind in Ireland for veterinary nurses under the auspices of the British Veterinary Nurses Association. A lot of their time will be spent in a clinic recognised for training by the College - in their case this is Grove Veterinary Centre in Ballymena headed by Alistair Gibson.

For Janice, 22, of Rathkenny, it was a toss up between veterinary nursing or art for a career. The animals won and she was lucky to be able to do her college training in this country because she wouldn't have been too fussy on going to England. The course started last October.

Collette, 33 of Randalstown never had any doubts what she wanted to do for a career. She has been working in the Grove clinic for 10 years and when the opportunity came to do the course she readily agreed.

She has seen many girls come into the practice thinking all you had to do was pat the heads of dogs.

She says: "It's a lot of heavy work at times. On the television shows the nurses seem to stand in the background and don't do anything. It's hardly reality.

"In fact we are quite busy preparing the animals and the theatre for operations. Every instrument has to be set out and cleaned afterwards. Then there is the post-operative nursing as well as tending to other pets and animals in general. It's not a job for the faint hearted nor is it glamorous work. You need plenty of showers and deodrant afterwards.''

There's a lot of bookwork involved and after the first year they can do another year. GCSE's are a minimum requirement for entry to the course.

They get close to the animals and they in turn re-act to the kindness and care.

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