Louise takes on new regional role with BVNA

Louise takes on new regional role with BVNA
Keeping pigs is a passion project for Louise.

The ongoing impact of the coronavirus on all aspects of life in Northern Ireland has turned Louise Patterson’s first few months as the BVNA’s new regional rep here upside down – but it certainly hasn’t dented her enthusiasm for the job or the profession she loves.

Louise Patterson (37), a lecturer in veterinary nursing at CAFRE’s Greenmount campus, became the BVNA’s new NI representative in January, taking over from Limavady-based RVN, Naoimh Toner.

Both women volunteer with local veterinary counselling charity, Vet Support NI, and it was during a conversation last year that Louise learned her friend would not be continuing with the Association role. Louise successfully applied to take-over from Naoimh, but almost as soon as she’d started, the coronavirus lockdown threw her plans into disarray:

‘I’m really keen to get properly started with the BVNA work, but I’ve not really been able to do that so far,’ she told NI Veterinary Today this month. ‘I’m looking forward to really boosting the profile of veterinary nursing in Northern Ireland and strengthening our links with the Association, I think there is lots we can do and I just want to get on with it.’

Louise, who is currently relocating with her partner, Colin, to a small farm at Ballynahinch, was led into veterinary nursing by a life-long love for animals.

‘It’s notoriously difficult to get into this profession because you have to find someone who is willing to mentor you,’ she says. ‘I was very lucky because I found employment really quickly with Linda Glenn at Glenn Veterinary Clinic in Bangor. She was fantastic and I can’t speak highly enough of the opportunities she gave me and the kindness she showed me.’

Louise spent 11 years in total at Glenn Veterinary Clinic and was on maternity leave with her second child, Cole, when she spotted an advertisement for the lecturing post at Greenmount.

Louise with ‘Is The One’, who won her age group in the Best Cow class at this year’s British Blonde Cattle Society annual (virtual) show this year.

‘Even when I was at college myself, I would look at the lecturers and think, that’s something I would like to do,’ she says. ‘In practice, I often mentored other student nurses and it was something I enjoyed. I loved seeing them come in not knowing very much and going out as professional, competent people. It gave me a lot of pleasure to be able to help them through that process.’

In order to keep her clinical skills up to scratch, Louise has worked on and off as a locum over the years; she’s worked with out-of-hours care provider, Vets Now and she’s served as a theatre nurse for the late Alistair Gibson and freelance veterinary anaesthetist, Paul Crawford.

Away from veterinary nursing, Louise’s real passion is farming. She’s particularly fond of cows and currently keeps a show herd of pedigree Blonde d’Aquitaine cattle with Colin, who is a farmer. She also has some cross-bred sheep and her latest love, six pigs.

‘I’ve always had an interest in farming, this is just a real passion project for me,’ she admits.

As for her work with the BVNA, Louise is now looking forward to the This Is Us 2020 virtual event, which takes place between October 9 and 11. It’s a celebration of veterinary nursing and will essentially act as a replacement for this year’s BVNA Congress which didn’t take place because of coronavirus. Urging local nurses to take part, Louise said:

‘I am really keen to get more nurses from here involved in BVNA activities. It’s difficult, but the more they do, the more the Association will be able to do in Northern Ireland for its members. At the moment, there isn’t enough CPD available over here for VNs. Also, many VNs are keen to achieve additional qualifications but they don’t want to have to go to England because it’s expensive and time-consuming. It would be really great if they were able to do more here.’

If you would like to get in touch with Louise, you can do so at: wezi@hotmail.co.uk