Nurses are an intrinsic part of the healthcare system and provide services without which society would be at a massive loss. They have a fundamental role in the lives of others, being present at births, deaths, and all illnesses in between.
While there is an ongoing recruitment ban in the health sector due to current economic conditions, there is always the hope that prospects will have improved in four years’ time. It is also worth bearing in mind that Irish nurses have an excellent reputation abroad and so overseas employment remains an exciting and viable option. In addition to this, busy private hospitals at home are continuing to recruit.
To become a registered nurse in Ireland, you must first undertake a nursing degree from one of the many teaching hospitals around the country, all of which are affiliated with higher education institutions.
Nursing is a traditionally popular CAO choice among young women, though the number of men attempting to enter the profession is on the increase. If you think you have the required combination of scientific skill, patience, and empathy, then you may be well suited to a career in nursing.
Those interested in a nursing career must choose one of the nursing disciplines – General, Children’s & General, Midwifery, Intellectual Disability, and Mental Health/Psychiatric. Level 8 honours degree courses are available in each specialisation.
The General Nursing degree equips students with the skills to care for adults and children suffering from medical and surgical ailments through a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical experience. Subjects include Pharmacology & Health, Chemistry, Anatomy, Psychology, and Social Policy. Midwifery students take many of the same theoretical subjects as their general nursing colleagues along with topics such as Contemporary Midwifery and Health Care Quality & Informatics.
Clinical placements are a major part of all nursing courses. Students gain hands-on experience of home care, surgical nursing, operating theatre techniques, maternity nursing, and accident and emergency procedures. Students taking the Psychiatric Nursing option focus on areas such as addiction services, acute assessment, admissions, and community care. An extended period of work experience is undertaken in fourth year, during which students receive payment.
A popular alternative route to nursing is through further education with the one-year Level 5 Certificate in Nursing Studies. Students who achieve a minimum of five distinctions are entitled to apply for places reserved for FETAC graduates on several third-level nursing degree courses. Competition is tough when taking this route, but a viable alternative is travelling to enrol in a degree programme in the UK, or working as a care assistant until entry into a third-level college is secured.
The primary objective of nurses is care and rehabilitation. The appropriate care needed will vary depending on the condition of the patient, but it will generally involve administering medicine, performing tests, and monitoring the patient’s health status and vital signs. It is the duty of a nurse to serve the best interests of the patient. Nurses also liaise with other members of the hospital team and help doctors and other healthcare professionals with procedures.
Nurses who work with people suffering from mental disabilities encourage independence in patients and improve their quality of life. A nurse can be involved in all the client’s daily tasks, from assisting with washing or eating to taking part in activities such as art or swimming. Some people with profound disabilities may require intensive physical nursing, while others might require only supportive guidance.
Psychiatric nurses help people with emotional or psychological illnesses, or those recovering from particularly traumatic experiences. Psychiatric nurses build strong relationships with individuals and their families and help their patients to live full lives.
Midwives work with women during pregnancy, help during childbirth, and provide care to mothers and babies during the early post-natal period. Tasks can include monitoring the mother and baby using ultrasound scanners, advising the mother on diet and nutrition, and teaching both parents how to look after their newborn child.
A caring personality and a desire to help others are prerequisites of nursing positions. A certain amount of scientific ability is also useful, as is a resourceful character. Nurses should also possess a certain amount of organisational skills and an ability handle pressure well. Weekly workloads are split into different shifts and so evening and weekend work is a common occurrence.
Did you know?
The first nursing school in history dates back to 250 B.C. and was located in India. Strangely, only men were considered to be ‘pure’ enough to work as nurses.
ØIrish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO): www.inmo.ie