TOP STUDENT: University of Queensland student vet nurse Martina Smith. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel.
TOP STUDENT: University of Queensland student vet nurse Martina Smith. PHOTO: Ali Kuchel.

Nation’s best student vet nurse swaps desk job for hospital

AUSTRALIA'S best student vet nurse is a mum-of-two with eight horses, three dogs who made a massive career-changing move three years ago.

She calls the Lockyer Valley home, and its at Gatton's agricultural university where Martina Smith is in her element - caring for animals that come into the hospital.

Nominated by UQ Gatton Animal Hospital's nursing manager, Mrs Smith was named Veterinary Nurses of Australia's student nurse of the year during her final year of studies.

The humble 35-year-old was "more stoked" to be nominated, until she found out she won.

"I'm really proud of winning it - because of where I've started from and I've worked really hard with my studies," Mrs Smith said.

Three years ago, Mrs Smith made the jump from a finance gig to studying full time when she was awarded an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Trainee Animal Attendant position working in the Clinical Studies Centre at the university.

She completed a Certificate III in Companion Animal Studies then made the move to the animal hospital to complete her cert IV in veterinary nursing through Tafe QLD.

Having grown up on stations and farms in western Queensland, Mrs Smith had always been surrounded by animals.

"I had been in finance beforehand, and I really enjoyed it, but it was never my passion," she said.

Mrs Smith said returning to full-time study in her 30s with two children was daunting.

"When I saw the indigenous traineeship, I jumped at it straight away."

It was a scary leap transitioning to a new full-time job and full-time study, but Mrs Smith had hoped she would enjoy it.

She was right.

"I've always had animals and loved animals, and it was something I wanted to do," she said.

Mrs Smith has five units left until she is a qualified vet nurse.

After that she plans to take a short break before returning to study - this time - animal rehabilitation.

"I love being able to take the animals the whole way through their journey," she said.