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Nurse graduates praised for dedication to patients

 Group of nurse graduates in their caps and gowns at their graduation ceremony.


“We are extremely lucky to have such highly skilled nurses ensuring excellence of care for all our patients,” noted Louisea Burke, Director of Nursing in the Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore, following a recent nurse graduation ceremony at Trinity College Dublin. Five nurses from the hospital graduated with postgraduate certificates in Advanced Practice Nursing following a two-year course.

“The commitment of all five nurses is abundantly evident in all their hard work and dedication to the care of their patients in Tullamore,” added Louisea.

Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) are registered nurses who have carried out ongoing and specific training and have achieved academic qualifications to be able to examine, assess, make diagnoses, treat, prescribe, and make referrals for patients. They are experts in clinical practice and educated to a master’s degree level or above.

For the five nurses, the experience has been rewarding. 

For Maree Healy, a Mayo native living in Westmeath, the graduation saw her further expand her skills and knowledge. Her expertise is in managing patients with complex wounds:

“Everything to do with wounds has been my passion since qualifying as a nurse. I believe that as nurses we have a very important role in the care of patients with wounds and their successful outcomes.”

Describing the cases she manages as “varied,” Maree, who works as an ANP in Tissue Viability at Tullamore Hospital, outlines how she runs clinics both independently and alongside the vascular consultant (vascular services deal with the diagnosis and management of conditions affecting the circulation, including disease of the arteries and veins).

Maree adds: “More recently I have developed a vascular outreach clinic in the community with my colleagues. This allows for medical and nursing staff from the hospital to provide their services outside of the hospital, in community settings, nearer to where our patients live.”

Annemarie Kirwan from Rosenallis, Co Laois, has worked in Tullamore since 2000 where she has specialised in Oncology Haematology Nursing (cancers of the blood and lymph systems, such as leukaemia).  Annemarie explains that her special interest is in “dealing with blood clots – technically known as Venous Thromboembolism (VTE).”

The recipient of a ‘Warrior Award’ last year, Annemarie acknowledges that she had been nominated, in part, for her exceptional care and dedication: 

“I received the award at Thrombosis Ireland VTE Exemplar Awards on World Thrombosis (blood clotting) Day. I am very excited to continue this important work and am dedicated to the continuous improvement in the quality of care experienced by our patients and in the prevention and management of blood clotting within the hospital.”

Maria Creggy from Longford has worked as an Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinical Nurse Specialist in Tullamore Hospital for 17 years: “My special area of interest is Head and Neck Oncology (cancer services). My plan for the development of my role is to improve the quality of life of the patients we see and treat. They are often unable to physically speak and so have difficulty in letting us know their social and healthcare needs. This is usually as a result of both their disease and treatment. Applying advanced clinical nursing expertise to these patients will improve their overall experience and ultimately mean better results and outcomes.”

Graduating with a distinction in Advanced Practice, Sharon Maher from Tullamore explained that she has been working as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Cardiology (heart-related services) at Tullamore Hospital for 17 years:

“I am passionate about our management of heart failure as a condition and aim to improve our management of patient symptoms, seeking to reduce hospital admissions and enhance the overall quality of life for patients.”

An active member of the Irish Association of Heart Failure Nurses, Sharon explains she is very proud to be part of a team in Tullamore that provides a “daily, nurse-led, heart efficiency clinic. Our service makes a difference to patients with heart failure living in the Midlands. My vision for the role of  Advance Nurse Practitioner in Cardiology is to use the skills and knowledge I have gained to build upon our current service. I also want to be a patient advocate and strive for the best standards of care.” 

Offaly native Grace Kinahan graduated as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Infection Prevention and Control. She explained that her focus is on her patients and “their isolation needs along with the prevention of transmission of infection. I will work to further enhance my role, as our success will make a real difference to our patients and colleagues.”

Grace specialises in caring for patients diagnosed with a Healthcare Associated Antimicrobial Resistant Organism:

“Antimicrobials - including antibiotics - are medicines used to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals and plants. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when the microorganisms (organisms including bacteria that can only be seen through a microscope) change over time and get to a point where they no longer respond to medicines such as antibiotics that were previously used to treat them.”

Congratulating all the graduates, Louisea added that the course had provided all students with a “broad-based education experience. It means they can now  work at a higher level as expert practitioners.”