Jenny Monroe speaks to veterinary nurse Christina Palmer

Christina Palmer, Pets At Home. INUS0313-VET1
Christina Palmer, Pets At Home. INUS0313-VET1

CHRISTINA Palmer, 30, is a partner and head Nurse at Companion Care Vets based in Sprucefield.

She is a registered Veterinary Nurse and trained at the University College Dublin teaching hospital. With over 12 years experience in nursing she has since worked in both small animal and mixed practice and enjoys all aspects of veterinary medicine and surgery, but has a particular interest in animal welfare and behaviour.

Christina is a joint partner with her veterinary husband Barry and they live near Ardglass.

I wake about 7am and have to muck out and feed our two goats and a horse and Barry and I will take it in turns to walk our dog before breakfast.

It normally takes about 40 minutes to travel to work each day with us arriving at 8.30am but we don’t open until 9am so this half hour gives us time to feed, walk and medicate any inpatients we have in and to look at what is booked in for the day ahead. We will have a staff briefing and if there’s no inpatients that day we will start to prepare for any operations that we have planned. I’ll be checking that consent forms for operations have been signed by the patient’s owners and a consultation will take place between the vets and nurses so we all know what is going on.

We do run an appointment system but we do occasionally have emergency appointments to deal with too. Up until about 11.30am we will have appointments and then after this we will get ready for the operations. One nurse will be responsible for the anaesthesia and will monitor the animal throughout the operation and another nurse will the clip the area for surgery, disinfect it and help the vet scrub in and generally holds and fetches equipment for the vet when needed. The nurse assistant will help with the handling of the animal while the nurse or vet places an IV line in just to be on the safe side should we need it in an emergency.

Once we get through the operations we will try and get some lunch before the next round of appointments start at 2.30pm. We could have three or twenty appointments - it just depends on the day.

Throughout the day we run special nurse clinics for overweight pets, diabetics, behaviour issues, teeth checks and puppy socialisation classes. These clinics are often free of charge.

Throughout the day patients will be discharged and we have to ensure that the owner is clear on what medication their pet requires and if the animal needs further treatment. We will also phone people to let them know how their animal is doing after an operation.

Our last appointment is at 6.30, and the surgery has to be cleaned from top to bottom before we can leave. We haven’t had very many inpatients but occasionally Barry and I end up taking the animal home to look after it.

When we get home I like to unwind by taking Brian the dog for a walk - he comes to work with us so he has company throughout the day and then we will have dinner.

Outside of work, I am kept busy with my own pets which include a dog, 6 rescue cats and 2 goats! I also own a beautiful Irish draught cross called Trinity, who I often take to shows at my local riding stables.

I really enjoy my work as it can be so rewarding when you see an animal recover and get healthy despite all the odds - this is the best part.