Aoife Garvin is a new veterinary nurse in our Foxrock Vet clinic and has been with the team since the end of May. We recently sat down for a quick chat with Aoife to find out more about her training and what she gets up to in work while she’s caring for all the local pets in the area….
Aoife, where did you train to become a veterinary nurse?
I studied in Letterkenny IT and completed a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing. It’s an intensive three-year degree course and very is hands on which was great.
We covered a tonne of exciting areas on the course….
We received extensive training on a variety of laboratory procedures such as analysis of bloods and fluids which help tell us what might be the cause of a problem for an animal.
I learned about Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Studies – that area of the degree studies was very interesting. We got to experience the training that working dogs receive and got a real understanding into the way animals think, feel and react. As nurses this is very important because we are able to observe a pet and understand its emotions better. There are tell-tale signs that show an animal might be nervous or anxious, so we can be on the look out for these and help calm the situation down if needs be.
I studied animal nutrition and weight management in detail. This thought us how important it is to provide the right food and the right amount of food for your pet. Keeping a close on your pets’ weight is very important so that they remain healthy and live a long happy life.
I also had extensive training in emergency and critical care nursing so that I’m well prepared to take care of any accidents and emergencies that a pet might have.
It wasn’t all based in the college though. The best thing about the course was that it was really practical and prepared me extremely well for going out into the working world. I did several six-week placements. The structure was six weeks in college and then a six-week placement – we did two placements each year.
I decided to choose a new location for each work placement so that I would experience lots of different situations. I worked in a bunch of fantastic spots including a vet in Sligo, a large animal practice in Claremorris and a small animal practice in Claremorris. I generally stayed along the West Coast of Ireland because I’m from Mayo it made it a little easier for to get home at the weekends!
Getting this hands on experience really helped me to settle in here tat Ark Vet very quickly.
What does your current role in Foxrock entail?
Well I’m a Veterinary Nurse here at Ark Vet in Foxrock and I absolutely love it – no two days are ever the same!!
I do lots of things, helping the vets during surgeries, for example when animals are scheduled for neutering and then preparing the animals for discharges post-surgery. I do a lot of lab work throughout the week which includes running analysis on bloods and fluids.
I also look after our amazing work experience students when we have some with us and help out on reception from time to time.
It’s busy busy but a lot of fun!!
Tell us… What’s your favourite part of the job so far?
Hmmmmm that’s a tricky question!
I suppose it would probably be working with the anaesthetics and monitoring the pets as they are under anaesthetic.
When animals are under anaesthetic there are many things that must be monitored to ensure the animal is stable and comfortable throughout the surgical procedure. When I am monitoring a patient under anaesthetic I need to monitor the heart rate, respiration rate, their pulse rate, their temperature and gum colour. There are many other aspects such as their palpebral reflex in the eye by tapping the corner of the eye and if there is no blink, this indicates a good level of anaesthesia. The pedal reflex in the paw is checked by pinching in between the toes of the patient and if the patient pulls back their foot this means the anaesthesia is too light. The capillary refill time is checked by applying pressure to the gum and then releasing the pressure and you must count the time to when the gum returns to its normal colour and the normal amount of time is less than two seconds. You must also monitor the patients eye position, if the eye appears to be central, they are too light under anaesthetic, if the eye is rotated down this is an adequate position and if the eye is central and dilated it means the patient is too deep under the anaesthetic.
Then I closely monitor the pet to make sure they wake up nicely after the anaesthetic has worn off and make sure they are not afraid of their surroundings.
We use different circuits to monitor the animals. The T-Piece is for smaller animals under 10Kg and the breathing bag is 1 litre. In larger animals over 10Kg we use a larger circuit and a bigger bag to match with their lung size which helps them to breath comfortably. The circuit passes through oxygen and isoflurane and filters out what they exhale so that the isoflurane doesn’t get into the environment where the nurses and vets are breathing and working.
This is a very important part of the procedure and needs to be carefully monitored throughout.
What are your biggest challenges?
Each day something different crops up so we need to be ready for anything. It might be that I need to run a different type of analysis or prep for an unusual operation due to an emergency… you have to be on your toes!
There’re new things happening all the time and I am lucky to have a really experienced team of vets and nurses around me here at the clinic who are able to answer any questions I have.
Would you like to do any further studies?
When I was in college I had a big interest in physiotherapy and hydrotherapy so I might do a bit more study in that area down the line. Right now though I’m loving the working life!
Are there any seasonal issues pet owners should be aware of now?
Well it was a very warm summer this year in Ireland and we did have a few cases of fleas not too long back. Due to the heat it was a bit more prevalent this year.
It’s important for pet owners to protect their pets from fleas all year round not just in the summer. I would recommend Advocate Spot which is applied to your dog or cat once per months and keeps them protected.
Of course, Halloween is right around the corner which can be a bit of a traumatic time for pets. We’ve a few tips on our blog for pet owners on how to help keep their dog stay calm during Halloween which are very useful and worth a read.
Of course, if anyone has any questions on this or others issues they can give us a quick call here and we’ll be able to help them out.
Do you have any pets yourself?
Yes, I have two dogs and one guinea pig. Logan, on the left, is a Sheep Dog and Alife, in the middle, is a Cockapoo.
We recused Alfie a few years back, he was quite nervous at the start and didn’t really get on too well with men or children. We spent time giving him a lot of love and he’s come on leaps and bounds, he’s a super dog now and doesn’t get anxious anymore.
My guinea pig, there on the right, is called Loki and he is a rescue guinea pig believe it or not! When I was on a work placement a client brought him in and they weren’t able to house him anymore, so I brought him home and introduced him to my sisters guinea pig Gizmo. They’re best buddies now!!