Medical & Healthcare
The Medical & Caring sector can be divided into five main career areas:
- Nursing & Midwifery
- Medicine & Medical Specialisms
- Allied Health Professionals
- Medical Diagnostics
Nursing & Midwifery
The main entry route to nursing is based on CAO points. To study General Nursing in Ireland, the points requirement in previous years ranged from 390 points (at Letterkenny IT) to 455 points (at University of Limerick). It is a competitive course and the demand for places are high. FET Route below is another option:
FET /QQI Route
A popular alternative route to nursing is through further education. Following the Leaving Cert, students can undertake a one-year FET /QQI Level 5 Certificate in Nursing or Pre Nursing Studies. Those who achieve a minimum of five distinctions are entitled to apply for places reserved for FET/QQI graduates on several third-level nursing degree courses.
Be aware though, competition is still tough when taking this route and FET Applicants are not guaranteed a place, even with all distinctions in their course modules. You can check the CAO quota of places reserved for QQI FET/FETAC applicants on Nursing courses here.
Medicine & Medical Specialisms
Careers in medicine range from General Doctor or Family GP, to Specialist Surgeon, Radiologist, Oncologist, Anaesthetist, Audiologist, Dermatologist, Paediatrician, Gynaecologist, Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, Psychiatrist and many, many more. Click here to access more information on each type of Medical Specialism
Qualifying as a Medical Doctor
The first step to becoming a Medical Doctor is a recognised degree. On completion of the Medical Degree, candidates register with the Medical Council and then complete an Intern year as House Officer with one of the hospitals recognised for this purpose.
Further training is required by all Junior Doctors to become a specialist in a particular area. For example, General Practice (GP). To become a GP you must undertake a further three years training. Another year is then spent as a trainee in a teaching general practice. GPs then complete an examination to become a member of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) or The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
Entry Pathways to Medicine
Your choices around entry into medicine within Ireland and UK/EU/Further a field are:
1. Undergraduate with your leaving results and the HPAT (See above)
2. Mature student application via the CAO and the individual HEI
3. Graduate entry to medicine with GAMSAT and a degree, generally a grade 2:1, but depends on the individual HEI. (Some HEI in the UK take 2:2 degree marks. Always check with the individual college.)
4. UK or Europe - travel abroad to study
Further information on applying to Medicine
Dentistry is the branch of medicine concerned with the teeth and gums and health of the mouth. You could specialise as an Orthodontist, a Periodontist, an Oral Surgeon, or a Cosmetic Dentist.
A general dentist is similar to the GP in medicine. They provide general dental health care, prevention and maintenance work such as teeth cleaning, cavity fillings, and root canals.
To become a General Dentist, it is necessary to complete a full-time five-year Degree programme. Courses are offered by UCC and Trinity College Dublin. As well as having an extremely demanding entry requirement, the course itself is regarded as one of the most difficult in the country. Because of the demand for places, students often also apply to Dental Schools in the UK through the UCAS system. Once qualified, many dentists enter general practice. Post graduate qualifications are required for specialist dentistry practices such orthodontics. The average starting salary for Dentists is around €50,000 a year and grows much higher with a number of years' experience.
Support Roles in Dentistry
The various support roles in this area include: Dental Lab Technician, Dental Hygienist, Dental Assistant and Dental Nurse.
Allied Healthcare Professionals
This category includes all medical treatment areas and therapies which aim to relieve, manage and cure patients with particular conditions:
Occupational Therapy - helps people who have a disability to achieve the maximum degree of independence in their daily lives. OTs are employed by Hospitals or work in settings such as schools, prisons, community centres or nursing homes. Courses for this profession are offered by NUI Galway, UCC Cork, and TCD. Starting Salary with a Health Board for example, is approximately €35,000.
Speech and Language Therapy - SLTs identify and offer therapy to people with communication disorders. People of all ages are treated but most of the work is with children. Problems from birth such as cleft palate, or special educational needs may be the reason children require support, or for adults, problems with speech following an injury, a stroke or an illness such as Parkinson’s disease.
Speech therapists work closely with other medical professionals such as doctors, psychologists Occupational and music therapists, teachers and social workers. Degree Courses for this profession are offered by NUI Galway and UCC Cork, and TCD. There is currently a shortage of Speech & Language therapists both in Ireland and the UK.
Nutrition and Dietetics - gives advice on all aspects of nutrition and diet. Hospital dieticians may specialise in such areas as diabetes, heart disease, and paediatrics, for example. They are also employed in business and industry as advisors or researchers. Recognised courses to qualify to work in this area include B.Sc. in Nutrition and Dietetics. A typical starting salary is €34,000.
Physiotherapy - work with a variety of cases such as people who have had accidents, people who suffer from arthritis or children suffering from spina-bifida, cerebral palsy or cystic fibrosis. Sports Physiotherapists work with sports injuries, an area that has grown significantly in recent years.
Four year degree courses in Physiotherapy are offered by UL, UCD, TCD and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. They work in a variety of settings such as Hospitals, Community Care, and Private Practice. A starting salary of €30,000+ can be expected.
Coláiste Ide: PLC Route to Physiotherapy in the UK
Optometry - An optometrist tests eyesight looking for any disease or visual defects. They prescribe and fit glasses or contact lenses. They usually work in Private Practice, (retail outlets such as Specsavers) but a small number work in hospitals or lens manufacturers. In Ireland there is only one institution where you can study optometry DIT 4 years BSc Optometry. The course is approved by the Opticians Board, the registration and regulatory body for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians in Ireland. After a couple of years' experience, an Optometrist can expect to earn up to €80,000 a year.
Podiatry - A podiatrist (also known as chiropodist) is a health care professional whose area of expertise is the foot and ankle area of the body. Podiatrists are educated in diagnosis and in planning and implementing interventions for all age groups. A podiatrist, typically works as an independent, autonomous practitioner, demonstrating expertise in assessing, diagnosing and managing lower limb and foot-related problems. This career also involves working alongside other health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and orthoticists. As a specialist in foot care, the Podiatrist receives extensive training in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of foot and ankle disorders by medical and surgical means. To work as a Podiatrist you need to complete a B.Sc. degree in podiatry.
Medical diagnostics is concerned with procedures and tests to confirm or interpret a medical diagnosis. Careers in this area include Radiographer, Radiation Therapist, and Pharmacist.
Radiography - Radiography is one of the most important tools in modern medicine. The use of X-rays, imaging and ultrasound enables diagnosis and assessment that would otherwise be impossible. High-energy radiation also provides life-saving treatment in cancers and tissue disease. Radiographers have the technical expertise and understanding to use these advancing technologies to best effect.
There are two radiography specialities:
1. The Diagnostic Radiographer who takes pictures of parts of the body where illness or injury is known or suspected.
2. The Therapeutic Radiographer (Radiation Therapist) who uses a controlled amount of Radiation to treat patients with diseases such as cancer.
Salaries start in the region of €34,000. There are good employment prospects for Radiographers, both in Ireland and abroad.
Pharmacy - Degrees in Pharmacy are offered by UCC, Trinity College and the Royal College of Surgeons. After completing a four year degree course, pharmacists must complete a one year pre-registration period in a chemist or hospital pharmacy before they can work independently.
Currently, the five-year programme in Ireland consists of a PSI (Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland) accredited four-year Bachelor degree programme in a school of pharmacy, followed by a one-year Internship Programme which results in the award of a Level 9 Master's degree. Once students complete pre-registration, they can choose to work in a retail pharmacy, a hospital or in a pharmaceutical company.
As a practising pharmacist in Ireland you must be a member of PSI. Graduates can expect an average starting salary of €60,000 working in a retail pharmacy. There is a high demand for qualified pharmacists and that demand is expected to continue.
Pharmacy Technician - Pharmaceutical technicians assist the pharmacist with dispensing information, processing prescriptions, the preparation, checking and filing/storage of medicines. The pharmaceutical industry is steadily expanding, and the number of pharmacies has increased significantly, indicating that pharmacy technicians will continue to be in demand.
Two-year Higher Certificate courses are available, that qualify candidates as Pharmacy Technician. Colleges offering this qualification include AIT, DIT, IT Carlow and LYIT.
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Pharmacist – Rachel Berry
Anaesthetist – Dr. Jan Steiner
Speech and Language Therapist – Lisa Kelly
Ambulance Paramedic – Keith Hayes