Our vet with a special knowledge of skin diseases

Our vet with a special knowledge of skin diseases
March 18, 2017 kernow

Nicky Shaw BVSc CertAVP(VD) MRCVS


Nicky, now with a new dermatology qualification, has been working with us here in St Austell, Cornwall since 1991.   In 2016 she became one of just a handful of veterinary surgeons in the South West who is recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as an Advanced Practitioner in Veterinary Dermatology.   This postgraduate qualification recognises her expertise in Veterinary Dermatology proven by examination.   You can learn a bit more about veterinary qualifications on the RCVS web site –  CLICK HERE

To celebrate her new recognition from the RCVS and her nomination in the Pet Plan Vet of the Year Award 2017 we decided to ask her a few questions:-

Why did you want to become a vet?

I determined from the age of 11 to become a vet.   I was spurred on by a much loved pet guinea-pig needing an operation to remove a tumour.   But I decided then that I wanted be the one to make him better.

Where did you train and what did you most enjoy about it?

I trained at Liverpool Veterinary School.   I graduated with honours in 1989. I loved the learning environment and the practical difference we could make to our patients’ lives.

What drew you to moving to Cornwall and what do you like about it?

I moved to Cornwall in 1991 with my husband, to take up a position at the Pelyn Veterinary Group.   I was drawn by my desire to be back near my family roots in the South West.   I still really love dog walks on the beaches of this amazing  county.

What do you most enjoy about your work?

I enjoy many aspects of veterinary work, but developed a special interest in Dermatology.   This  culminated in me achieving Advanced Practitioner status and a Certificate of Advanced Veterinary Practice in Dermatology in 2016.   I also feel it is important to work with an owner in achieving the best outcome for their individual pet.   I enjoy working with our clients, whatever their circumstances, to arrive at the best solution to the problems that we see.   Something that is the aim for all of us.

I also love developing more knowledge and do tend to spend time away from work still reading veterinary journals.   It is that drive to increase my knowledge that helped me get through my recent examinations to gain my next level of expertise.

How do you deal with some of the sadder aspects of your work?

There are sad sides to our work, but standing alongside clients and their pets at these stages is indeed a privilege.  All vets are called to relieve suffering as well as treating animals.   I often think that if losing a pet doesn’t impart a degree of personal sadness, then I am not in the right job.   It is not always easy, but my consolation is the realisation that any pain felt so often reflects a love shared.

Have you had any funny moments during your work as a vet?

As to my funniest moments at work, I have been known to recall the tale from my mixed practice days of my husband assisting me with a difficult calving.   He was helping on the calving jack as I had my arm inserted inside the cow to safely guide the calf out.   All was going well only for him to be suddenly covered in a choice fountain of cow dung which luckily missed me but hit him full on.   The farmer and I were happy as the calf was safely delivered – but my husband was not quite so happy and not smelling so nice to sit by in the car on the way home!

I also remember, as a newly qualified vet, going out to empty the anal glands of some Japanese Chin dogs from a breeder.   Unfortunately, I managed to spray anal gland contents, with their own distinctive smell, all over her newly decorated walls!

What would you have done do you think if you had not been a vet?

I did consider training in human medicine.   Maybe even to work in the third world, but my heart really wanted to follow my veterinary dream.    I remember I even wrote about being a vet in ‘My Dream Come True’ essay title for my GCSE English exam!   So yes, I suppose  I was pretty obsessed with becoming a vet.

How do you unwind after a busy day at work?

I wind down walking my dog, cuddling my cat, looking after our guinea-pigs, swimming, singing and learning the piano.   So never very far away from animals really – even at home.

So now you know a little bit more about one of our veterinary team.

Thanks to Nicky for letting us get to know  little bit more about her.   If your pet is having any unresolved skin problems then we will be happy to refer you on to see her.     She will be delighted to use her added skills to help resolve any dermatology cases.   She will also take referrals from other veterinary practices for any dermatology cases.   Nicky is based mainly at the Pelyn Kings Avenue surgery.