It’s agriculture talk to Susan O’Riordan, fourth year veterinary medicine student at UCD in this week’s Student Focus segment. She discusses following in her father’s footsteps, raising 450 cattle and the positive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on her student life.
Templeglantine, originally from County Limerick, Susan O’Riordan, the daughter of a veterinarian, was exposed to life in a veterinary clinic from an early age.
Her father is a veterinarian, who runs the Fealeside Veterinary Hospital, a mixed practice based between Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick and Castleisland, Co. Kerry.
Susan recalls distinct memories when she was a young child, sitting by the operating table with her sister Grace, watching their father perform operations on small animals.
“I was born and raised on the family farm. Many of my early childhood memories can be traced back to the good times I spent with my brother and two sisters on the farm.
Student in veterinary medicine at UCD
She said It is agriculture: “Everything related to breeding has sparked enormous interest in my mind. My father was a veterinary medicine student at UCD and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.
Years later, her studies in agricultural science and biology for her Leaving Cert compounded the 22-year-old’s belief that veterinary medicine was the course for her.
The fourth year veterinary student at University College Dublin (UCD), whose parents are trained in agriculture, will graduate in 2023. “I started my veterinary studies at UCD after the Leaving Certificate . In addition, I spend most of my days making farm visits with my dad and helping him with small animal surgery.
“I’m lucky to be able to do an internship whenever I want, because I feel like I learn the most by seeing things in practice. “
“By helping my dad, I became quite confident in my ability to handle animals and my clinical skills, which gave me great satisfaction as I can see myself progressing. Plus, I realize that the time I spend preparing for my veterinarian career is paying off.
The family runs a breastfeeding business, with Billy and Judith being the “main bosses,” as the veterinarian student described it. Susan, her sisters, Shaleen and Grace, and her brother, Jeremy, have all been involved in running the farm over the years.
Their suckler and veal-to-beef business includes Charolais crosses, Belgian blue crosses, Limousine crosses and Simmental crosses with Charolais bulls.
They operate a spring and fall calving system on their farm, which includes 450 head. The paddock systems are in operation and reseeding is done annually.
“A strong work ethic was instilled in us from an early age. As children, we have always had a role on the farm. As long as we could, we were given small responsibilities like cleaning the waterers, feeding the calves and checking the fences.
“It evolved into electric washing of sheds, checking livestock and feeding cattle meal in the evenings after school. A few years ago I volunteered to do dehorning, vaccination and dosing, which I have been doing ever since.
These are mainly Susan and Grace and have been involved in the day-to-day management of the farm for the past few years. Their brother is a doctor in Drogheda and their older sister is a pharmacist and a medical student.
“None of them have a lot of time left to spend on the farm. However, they were always accommodating and helped us if they were there and needed, ”she added.
The Covid-19 pandemic has allowed the veterinary student to spend more time on her family farm.
Through farming, she had the freedom of the countryside, an escape from college work, and an outlet that she enjoyed.
Home-based college also gave him the flexibility and ability to put into practice the clinical information learned in family farm lectures, in surgery, and on calls, which has certainly been of benefit when it comes to remember information during exams.
“Last year, for my first semester in college, I had practical lab work every week. Therefore, I had to stay in Dublin.
“I was away from home for almost four months, which I personally found very isolating and lonely.”
“Fortunately, our second semester was fully uploaded and I was able to go home for the spring. “
“I was in my element as I gained invaluable home calving experience this year. Living on a farm throughout Covid-19 made sense of my life and the routine. “
She also spent several weeks this summer observing small animals in Dublin. She “particularly enjoyed” the time she spent at the Charlemont Street Animal Welfare Clinic.
“It was a very progressive practice, and I found their vets to be very accessible, supportive and inclusive of the students – I learned so much during my time there,” added Susan, recipient of the admission award. to freshmen who achieve more than 560 points in the Leaving Cert.
The long-standing friendships she made within the vet building were an important moment for her in college.
She said the vet is a “very social class” with a tremendous sense of community among the students.
She had the opportunity to experience events organized by Vet Soc and FAVS (Farm Animal Veterinary Society), such as the first year evenings, the Vet Ball, the Mystery Tour and the AVS Sports Weekend, to name but a few. only a few.
“This year, I became a member of the FAVS committee. I am delighted to see what opportunities I will experience as a result of this. “
“I found the preclinical years difficult. The material we were studying did not seem to have much relevance to what is happening in clinical practice. “
“To my relief, the preclinical modules were stepping stones into the clinical years that begin in year three. “
“Although the third year was a notoriously difficult year, I really enjoyed all aspects of our modules. “
“I found it much easier to study and keep information. The topics we cover were very relevant and these are areas that interested me.
Advice for future students of veterinary medicine
Susan has given constructive advice to those considering veterinary medicine.
She advises people to discuss the career in depth in terms of pros and cons with an experienced veterinarian. “It’s a conversation I had with my parents most weekends when I was at Leaving Cert,” she admitted.
“They wanted to make sure I was making an informed decision about my career choice. If you are lucky enough to enter veterinary medicine, don’t be fooled into thinking that it is all about socializing and that your classmates drop all their studies until study week or a few nights before. ‘exam.
“It’s a difficult course. Everyone who passes their exams strives every week to attend classes, even the first few years. “
“Our parents made us believe that women are equal to men and that whatever men can do, women can do too. We have always been encouraged to work hard on the farm and in school. There were never any limits to our abilities depending on whether we were a man or a woman.
“Throughout history, women have played a central role in agriculture. On calls, I always hear various stories about young widowed women who had to manage the family farm themselves.
“We have had many female veterinarians employed in practice over the years. I have never heard of a client commenting on how his abilities as a vet were in any way compromised because he was not male.
“To be honest, women in ag is a phrase that bothers me. I feel like using this phrase actively isolates women and emphasizes that there are differences between male and female abilities, when in fact there aren’t.
Regarding her own career, Susan plans to find a joint practice position away from home before eventually returning to join the family practice.
“Agriculture is an extremely important part of my life, and I am fortunate to have a family that supports my choice to study veterinary medicine.”
She believes Irish agriculture will face many challenges in the years to come, especially in terms of climate change, the use of antimicrobials and the growing popularity of plant-based alternatives to animal products.
“I am confident in the ability of our generations to overcome these challenges. I am delighted to see what the future of veterinary medicine in Ireland will look like, ”she concluded.
To share your story as this UCD veterinary student, email – [email protected]