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Nursing is an intrinsic part of the healthcare system. Nurses provide services without which hospitals, and society, could not function. They have a fundamental role in the lives of others, being present at births as well as deaths.

To become a registered nurse in Ireland, you must do a nursing degree from one of the teaching hospitals around the country. All of these have affiliations with higher education institutions.

To succeed as a nurse, you’ll need scientific skill, patience, and empathy.


Firstly, you will need to choose which professional nursing discipline to study. This could be 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 teaches students to care for patients suffering from medical and surgical ailments. You will learn 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 subjects 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 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 Work

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. Shifts, along with evening and weekend work, area common.

Did you know?

The first nursing school in history dates back to 250 BCE in India.

Further Resources

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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