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TAFE NSW helps Orange mum realise her veterinary dream


TAFE NSW helps Orange mum realise her veterinary dream

TAFE NSW Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing student Shaelee Howell at Mulberry Lane Veterinary Hospital with patient Millie.

Mum-of-three Shaelee Howell said that studying to become a vet nurse is giving her back a sense of self and she’s already landed paid work in record time.

Shaelee recently started a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing at TAFE NSW Orange after leaving school at 17 to become a parent.

She had been undertaking work placement with Mulberry Lane Veterinary Hospital for just six weeks when they offered her casual work.

“I was stoked. It shocked me actually, but I think it shows me I’m doing something right,” Shaelee said.

“Ideally, I want to finish this course and get a full-time job as a vet nurse so this feels like a great first step. It’s such a friendly and accepting workplace for students, so I feel very lucky.”

According to the Federal Government’s Job Outlook agency, strong growth is expected for vet nurses in the coming years, with employment numbers to increase to 13,600 jobs nationally by 2024.

Shaelee is undertaking a course that makes her job-ready with practical skills and work experience, and she is excited about establishing a new career.

“It’s busy but great all at the same time – my week is certainly not boring!” the 32-year-old laughed.

“Studying and doing something other than being a mum feels like it gives you back a sense of being you – you get your own identity back.

“I think when you step out of your comfort zone it’s a bit daunting, and I was definitely nervous, but I’ve had lovely support from my teachers and I really enjoy learning. It’s exciting.”

Mulberry Lane Veterinary Hospital owner and veterinarian Judith Carney said her business has had a long association with TAFE NSW and believes work placement is more effective than a traditional recruitment process.

“You can’t judge people just by an interview. Work placement allows us to observe the person working and get a read on their attitude and their ability,” Dr Carney said.

“We regularly have TAFE NSW students doing work placement here and it’s been a wonderful partnership for us.”

Dr Carney said that Shaelee had impressed everyone during her short time at the clinic and would begin working to assist the vet nurses during busy school holiday periods.

“Her ability to absorb knowledge and listen is fantastic. She’s a real worker,” Dr Carney said.

“She displays a great attitude and a willingness to learn and adapt. That’s important to us.”

Shaelee’s teacher, Kelli Johnston, said it’s the fastest she has seen any student convert work placement into a career opportunity.

“Shaelee is hard-working, dedicated and mature, and an asset to any employer,” Ms Johnston said.

“All of us here at TAFE NSW are so thrilled for her. It feels like this is her opportunity in life to do something for herself after being a very dedicated young mother. We’re so happy to see that this course is helping her to succeed and change her life.”

Pursue your passion in life and explore hundreds of nationally recognised qualifications at TAFE NSW. For more information, visit or phone 131 601.

​​​​​​​Media contact: Terra Sword, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist.