By Aedín Dunne - Last update

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Have you a good bedside manner? Do you want to have an impact on the lives of many and improve their quality of life? Do you have a vocation to care for those who cannot care for themselves? If you answered yes to all of the above questions, you might just be a natural born nurse. 

What is nursing?

Nursing is a profession within the healthcare sector that focuses on a patient’s health, care, maintenance, recovery and quality of life. This includes the care of individuals, families and communities. 

It is the promotion of good health prevention of illness and care of those who are ill, have a disability or at the end of their life.

What 3rd level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in the following subject areas:

Children’s Nursing – caring for children while taking their physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual needs from ages 0-18. 

General Nursing – caring for adults and meeting their care needs in hospitals/clinics.

Mental Health Nursing/Psychiatric Nursing  – specialising in the care of people of all ages in relation to mental health.

Intellectual Disability Nursing – providing holistic care to those with intellectual disabilities and helping to achieve their goals.

Dental Nursing – nursing in a dental practice and playing a role in organisation, management and dentist assistance.

Studying nursing in college

The majority of nursing courses will be about 4 years. In your first year, you will usually get an overview of the subject, what’s to come in the following years, an introduction to the profession and depending on your exact course, the specifics of the duties you will carry out. 

Courses generally encompass the development of theory and practice. The courses are broken up in theory and lectures, clinical placement and internships over the period of the 3-4 years, whatever it may be. 

Your curriculum will introduce you to the basics of nursing and what will be expected of you as a future nurse. As time goes on the theory will become more detailed and you will learn about particular illnesses and circumstances that may face you with certain clients and how you should treat, handle and help. You will gain all the necessary knowledge, skills and attitude that are necessary while working as a nurse. You will put your theory into practice through work placement and enhance your skills even more and become familiar with working with clients, their families, what works for individuals and how to help aid, care, treat and improve their quality of life. You may also learn how to use certain equipment you might use with clients and what medications are suited to certain conditions. 

To work as a nurse, an undergraduate degree in your chosen area will be enough to gain a qualification to go out into the working world in hospitals, health clinics and other places such as prisons. Some people use their undergraduate degree as a stepping stone into a postgraduate degree in a relevant area such Occupational Therapy, Aesthetic Nursing or any areas that people might want to specialise in. 

Career Options

With an undergraduate degree in nursing you will be qualified to work as a nurse on hospital wards, in GP Clinics, health clinics, prisons and so on. Nursing is a qualification that you can use anywhere in the world, giving you the freedom to travel, work and live abroad if that is what you’d like. 

Nursing is a hard job and varies between 12-13 hour shifts, working days and nights if in a hospital type of setting. It is a job that requires stamina, passion and often you will have to work under pressure. 

Many people go on to study at a postgraduate level to specialise in a particular area of their interest or take a slightly different path within the healthcare sector. Many go into areas, like mentioned above, such as occupational therapy, nurse practitioners and even doctors. There are many areas you can specialise in. 

To work in this profession there are some skills and qualities that are essential. These include excellent communication skills, interpersonal skills, patience, a caring nature, kind, empathetic, a critical thinker, work well with others and work well under pressure, a desire to help others, stamina, passionate and a problem solver.

Others prefer to go in the direction of research, teaching and lecturing in Universities and colleges across Ireland. 

Related Jobs

  • Nursing
  • Care assistant 
  • Medical Assistant
  • Midwife
  • Occupational Therapist 
  • Physiotherapist 
  • Paramedic

Further Study

As mentioned previously, an undergraduate degree in an area of nursing is used as a stepping stone into postgraduate study for some who wish to specialize in a particular field. 

Visit for more information. 


What do I need to get into a nursing course?

Different courses and different colleges will have different entry requirements. It’s always safest to check with the individual higher education institution which is available on their websites. As a general rule Leaving Cert students should have a minimum of six subjects which should

include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, Irish or another language, and English. 

Certain QQI Awards in a relevant area are also accepted. These change from course to course so be sure to research further. 

The maximum points for a nursing course was 533 points last year, Children’s and general nursing in UCC. The highest points for a General Nursing course was 475 in UL while the lowest was 400 in LYIT. The majority of courses in the nursing area range from 320 to 533. 

Where can I study?

You can explore your options here

Did you know?

  • Generally, adults should get around 30 minutes of exercise 5-7 days a week. 
  • The average portion of fruit or veg is measured at around 80g and we should be eating up to 400g of fruit and veg daily. 
  • Citrus fruits are believed to be effective in reducing blood pressure. 


Aedín Dunne

Mental Health
Palliative Care


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