Irish veterinary medicine student gets look at practice in United States, does clinical work in Mtn. Grove - Mountain Grove News-Journal : News

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Irish veterinary medicine student gets look at practice in United States, does clinical work in Mtn. Grove

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Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:57 am

An interest in animals and a desire to see the world, has led an Irish veterinary medicine student to Mountain Grove. Paddy Lennon, a veterinary medicine student from the University College Dublin, is spending a four-week clinical session with Whetstone Veterinary Service in Mountain Grove.

As part of his veterinary study, Lennon is required to participate in 24 weeks of clinical training with various types of veterinary practices.

“I said I would do part of my 24 weeks over here to see the world and see the way vets do things over here. My friend, Maria, was over here last year and she recommended this place as a good place to see,” Lennon said.

Whetstone Veterinary Service has hosted two international students. Last year the Clinic had Maria Lydon, also from the University College Dublin veterinary program, at the clinic. The Whetstone Clinic has a history of providing clinical experience for veterinary students, but the two Irish students are the only international students. Over the years the local clinic has hosted 90 students with approximately 50 percent coming from a University of Missouri veterinary program and the rest from a program through the Academy of Rural Veterinarians.

Lennon stated that in Mountain Grove he is spending a great deal of time expanding his experience with large animals with the assistance of the Whetstone veterinarians. He explained that in Ireland most practices include work with both small and large animals and are in rural settings. He explained that in most locations in Ireland it would be difficult to have a financially successful practice that concentrated on just small animals. Even though at the moment he has a special interest in small animals, he anticipates that he will work in a practice that deals with both.

He stated that he was not from a farm and he had no family members  in the veterinary profession. His grandfather was a farmer and his father is a carpenter and his mother a secretary. His interest in veterinary medicine developed from an interest in dogs.

“I’m extremely interested in dogs, dog behavior, dog training, and that’s what got me into veterinary,” he said.

Lennon stated that most of the veterinary students in Ireland do come from farms and most of them are female. He explained that in Ireland persons enter the five-year veterinary school program straight from high school and the acceptance to the veterinary program is based on high school scores. The girls seem to do better on these scores, and at that stage seem to have a more mature approach to studying, he said.

“Suits me just fine having 70 percent girls in class,” he added.

The potential for travel was another large part of his decision to enter veterinary medicine with a flexibility to work in other countries. He currently has student friends working in India with elephant vets and in South Africa and Portugal. Lennon pointed out that it was not unusual for veterinary medicine students from his university to spend international clinical time, but that the majority of the students do clinicals in Ireland. He sees the international clinical work as a great opportunity to work outside  your comfort zone. He also pointed out that after graduation he will also have options to work in other parts of the world and at the same time pursue his interest in traveling.

“I would like to travel the world. Looking to do some conservation work in Africa. I’d like to see Australia and might end up back in America,” he stated, before he would settle back in a practice in Ireland.

He stated that he always had an interest in animals and had contemplated other areas of study including zoology, but grinned that this type of work might have more limited income potential.  

Lennon stated that since he has begun his studies he has been surprised in the diversity of jobs and roles that a veterinarian can have. He indicated that he at first was narrow minded on the scope of the profession, but has since discovered that it can be very broad including  such areas as research and human health, related to the food chain and preserving the quality of the food chain.

“I was surprised in a good way.  It’s been a pleasant surprise,” he said.

 He stated that at some point he would be interested in doing research.

Lennon had never been to the United States before and it has been pretty much what he anticipated. And he likes seeing a part of the United States that most Irish tourists don’t see.

He has had a chance to visit the University of Missouri and its veterinary school. The Missouri University school is bigger than his school and has some equipment that his school doesn’t have, he stated. He also saw the importance of agriculture in Missouri with a visit to the state fair. He also stated that he has learned of the importance of hunting in this part of the United States. He explained that it is uncommon to be a hunter in Ireland.

He also stated that he has found how central to life sports are here. There doesn’t seem to be as strong a fan base for sports in Ireland as there is here. He indicated that hurling was his favorite sport. Even though Ireland is home to some historic golf courses, he laughs that at a recent golf event in Mtn. Grove he won an award as the “worst golfer.”

Lennon indicated that veterinary practices seem to be similar in Ireland and the United States.

“They are quite similar. You see a different variety of diseases. We don’t have tick borne diseases and we don’t have to use heart worm prevention in Ireland because it’s too cold for the parasite to survive in Ireland. Other than that, practices are very similar. The exception would be in Ireland we don’t call vets, doctors...but you still have your regular characters that come in,” he stated.

Lennon does come from a part of Ireland with an extensive dairy industry.

“In the southeast, where I’m from, the land will be extremely bush. It’s some of the best grasslands in the world because of the high levels of rain. There’s never a drought and we have enough sunshine for the grass to grow. So dairy is very large. The small time farmers usually do beef. The price of beef cattle is very low in Ireland at the moment so they’re not doing well. In the EU, they have a thing called quotas on dairy, so a farm is only allowed to produce a certain amount of milk...they’ve come with a way to get rid of quotas now, so in 2015 all dairy industry in Ireland is going to expand rapidly. So as before you have an average of 100 head per dairy herd, that’s going to go up to maybe 200-300 head... and there will be some very large operations over there too. From the veterinary point of view it will be less about individual animal health and more about herd health. It will be an interesting time for dairy in Ireland,” he stated.

Lennon stated that he would like to thank everyone in the community that has been so welcoming. He also thanked Drs. David and Missy Gourley and Dr. Kim Ehlers and Ernie Ehlers for their assistance.