Gerry Duignan, Regional Veterinary Laboratory Athlone and toxicology graduate of TUS Athlone, delivers an interactive veterinary diagnostics wet lab. Photo: Nathan Cafolla.

TUS Athlone marks 20 years of veterinary nursing education

Technological University of the Shannon (TUS), Athlone Campus, marked a significant milestone when it commemorated two decades of veterinary nursing education.

The occasion was celebrated with a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) event, sponsored by Hills, MSD and IVC Evidensia, and attended by 100 delegates, including alumni and industry leaders.

The event served as a platform to showcase the evolution and impact of the veterinary nursing programme over the 20 years.

Highlights included a series of lectures and interactive sessions led by industry experts Dr Lorraine Egan and Saoirse O’Faoilean, Village Vets; Finola Colgan, Mental Health Ireland; Dr Ann Derham, Fethard Equine Hospital; Dr Villhelmiina Huuskonen, UCD Veterinary Hospital; and Gerry Duignan, Regional Veterinary Laboratory Athlone.

There were also 19 exhibitors stands at the event, among them IDEXX Laboratories, Burton’s Veterinary Equipment and Duggan Vet Group.

Dr Don Faller, dean of Faculty, Science and Health, said: “The success of this anniversary CPD event underscores the journey we’ve undertaken in that time, and the impact our graduates have made in the field of veterinary nursing.

“Our alumni are making strides in the industry and the programme continues to shape the future of veterinary nursing care, leaving an indelible mark on the profession and the communities it serves.”

Martin Murphy, CEO of Ovagen and former external examiner of the programme, commended the dedication and achievements of the academic staff and the university, emphasising graduates’ value to industry.

“Much credit is due to the academic teaching staff and the university itself for the investment in people and teaching facilities. Graduates from this course are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to be incredible assets to any veterinary practice or animal health business that is lucky to employ them,” he said.

Since its establishment in 2003, the Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing has evolved into a flagship programme, shaping the future of veterinary nursing care with its innovative curriculum and commitment to practical learning.

The programme now boasts an eight-member clinical team and a purpose-built teaching and diagnostic facility, replete with a new digital imaging X-ray suite.

Accredited by the Veterinary Council of Ireland and ACOVENE, the programme has produced 555 graduates since its inception, and class cohorts have grown from 13 to 48.

Gillian Coughlan, programme coordinator of the BSc in Veterinary Nursing, said: “The programme is in a constant state of evolution, driven by the dynamic demands of the veterinary industry, so we’re always striving to stay ahead of the curve, ensuring our graduates are equipped with the latest skills and knowledge. As a result, they are highly sought-after, with diverse opportunities in both clinical practice and industry.”

TUS Athlone has recently forged links with Nord University in Norway, enabling veterinary nursing students to carry out clinical placement there as part of an Erasmus programme.

Dr Cormac O’Shea, head of Department, Bioveterinary and Microbial Sciences, added: “As we look to the future, our collaboration with Nord University in Norway is opening up new horizons for our students, offering unparalleled opportunities for international placements and exposure to cutting-edge veterinary nursing practices.”

Attendees of the event received 11.5 Continuing Veterinary Education (CVE) credits. To stay on the Veterinary Council of Ireland’s register, veterinary nurses are required to accumulate 12 CVE credits annually.