I wanted to be a vet since I was 3

In our My Career section, Orlaith O’Mahony, Veterinarian at Animal Care Hospital tells us about her work
I wanted to be a vet since I was 3
My Career Vet Orlaith O’ Mahony

Name: Orlaith O’ Mahony.

Age: 31.

Lives: Bishopstown.

Job title: Veterinarian.

Salary bracket: €40,000 – 60,000.

Education background: Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin.

Hobbies: Boxing, yoga, trail running and dog walking.

Describe your job in five words: Busy, challenging, enjoyable, energetic and rewarding

Describe yourself in five words: Dedicated, energetic, optimistic, determined, animal-lover.

Personality needed for this kind of work? Resilient and hardworking.

How long are you doing this job? Eight years.

How did you get this job? I decided at the age of three that this is what I wanted to do! I had a very romantic view of veterinary as a child, as I think we all do, but as a teenager I undertook work experience and was exposed to the real world of veterinary.

UCD is the only university in Ireland to offer veterinary so getting into the course is possibly the hardest part! I also applied to universities in the UK and their admission system is different, requiring you to have completed extensive work experience prior to applying. I found out during this work experience that I loved the real world veterinary as much as I had hoped.

I spent five years in UCD to achieve my degree, it was a very tough and competitive course but the people I met there were amazing and still some of my closest friends. During the course all of our summer breaks, etc, were spent on farms or out with vets gaining experience.

When I graduated in 2012 it was in the middle of the recession and jobs in Ireland were hard to come by. My first job was in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, where I treated farm animals and pets, I did my fair share of 2am calvings! I loved the large animal work, the farmers I worked with were very supportive and managed to hide their shock when the 5ft 2in female managed to calve their cow despite their previous misgivings.

After two years in practice I found my passion was in small animals and moved over to England, where I practiced in a very busy small animal hospital. The sheer volume of cases I saw improved me as a veterinarian immensely, I worked hard but learned a lot and enjoyed working with a number of different specialist vets.

In 2017 I was at home to visit family and friends, and while running the Ballycotton 10 race, a friend mentioned that the Animal Care Hospital in Cork were looking for a small animal practitioner with high standards — as they say, the rest is history!

I have been working here for two years and I have to say I love my job and am incredibly proud of the service our hospital offers. I have done further qualifications in acupuncture and fear free practice, which now gives me great job satisfaction.

Do you need particular qualifications or experience? To become a vet, you need to study veterinary medicine in Ireland or abroad. I took a year out after college and worked in lots of different fun jobs. I then moved to Dublin for five years to study veterinary medicine, it was hard but I loved the subject matter and made some amazing friends.

Describe a day at work? Where to start! We run an appointment system in our hospital so most of the time I know what is coming in the door next, but there are always sick or injured animals that have to be assessed quickly and thoroughly so this tends to keep you on your toes!

One moment I could be performing surgery while my nurse monitors the anaesthetic, and the next moment crawling around on the floor trying to coax an animal out from under its owner’s chair.

Fear Free practice is something I have trained in recently and I love it. I no longer allow any signs of fear or anxiety to be shown in our hospital, it is a really interesting concept and I enjoy winning over my patients and gaining their trust.

Days on the hospital floor are always busy but we have a great team here at the Animal Care Hospital and that helps!

How many hours do you work a week? Approx 35-45 hours a week with on-call some weekends and public holidays.

What do you wear to work? We wear our very stylish scrubs and comfy shoes. I am on my feet all day so comfortable shoes are a must.

Is your industry male or female dominated? When you study veterinary medicine, it is predominately female students but in the profession it is male-dominated.

Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: Depends on the day — sometimes it can be 15 when you are trying to save someone’s pet.

Do you work with others or on your own? In a veterinary practice, there is a team of people working to look after your pet. Our nurses do a wonderful job looking after the animals and helping the vets with surgeries and consults. We also work with specialists from other practices.

When do you plan to retire or give up working? Having just bought a house, I have a long way to go before my mortgage is paid off! So that’s not in the plan at the moment!

Best bits: Being there for a pet owner and looking after their cherished pet, even during the hardest days.

Advice to those who want your job? Follow your dreams, sometimes the path isn’t always straightforward but if you follow your passion, you will get there in the end.

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