Meet the 26 Health and Social Care Professions
Audiology is the study of hearing and balance in the challenging and expanding field of clinical science and technology.
Audiology involves assessment, management and rehabilitation of people with hearing, balance and associated disorders. This includes patients of all ages from newborns, children, adults and older people.
An MSc in Audiology is offered in University College Cork.
The Irish Academy of Audiology (IAA) holds a conference every two years. There are also Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses held at University College Cork each year.
Audiology is not currently subject to registration by CORU.
In broad terms a Clinical Biochemist (CB) may be defined through clinical, scientific, quality, management and leadership roles:
Scientific: Delivery and development of diagnostic tests and services, which they have implemented locally and nationally.
Clinical: Clinical duties commensurate to their training including clinical interpretation and advice to all clinical users.
Quality and Patient Safety: Ensuring the quality of investigations (ISO15189:2012), initiating and leading Quality Improvements to mitigate risk and safeguard patient safety. For all activities above, CBS provide scientific, clinical and quality input to many groups nationally and beyond e.g. Irish External Quality Assurance Scheme, Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB), National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), National Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Registry, Irish Endocrine Society (IES), Faculty of Pathology (RCPI), UK National Accreditation Scheme (UKAS), UK National External Quality Assessment Services, Royal College of Pathologists (UK) and the European Federation of Laboratory Medicine (EFLM).
Teaching/Training: Within hospitals, primary care (e.g. Grand Rounds, Journal Clubs and GP liaison forums) and universities (e.g. MSc, PhD) for science and medical students. Clinical Translational Research and Development is core to such activity where CBs have led in developing ideas and proposals, study design and writing grant applications.
Entry to the profession at an undergraduate level is for candidates with a BSc (Hons)/BA (Mod) in a subject area related to clinical biochemistry/laboratory medicine and diagnostics. Further information can be got here.
Once appointed, CBs receive specific experiential (basic) training and competence assessment and may undertake a Masters in Clinical Biochemistry, irrespective of whether they already have a higher degree (MSc, PhD). Through its professional body, the Association of Clinical Biochemists in Ireland (ACBI), there is more advanced scientific and clinical training and assessment for CBs undertaking Fellowship examinations set by the Royal College of Pathologists (FRCPath, UK).
‘A Clinical Engineer is a professional who supports and advances patient care by applying engineering and managerial skills to healthcare technology’- ACCE Definition, 1992. Clinical Engineers are qualified by education and training to practise engineering in the health care environment where technology is created, deployed, taught, regulated, managed or maintained related to health services.
Core roles of the Clinical Engineer are identified below but the Clinical Engineer also contributes as a member of a multidisciplinary team in the following ways: 1. Service Management with respect to Medical Technology 2. Health Technology Assessment with respect to Medical Technology 3. Regulatory/QA Issues with respect to Medical Technology 4. Repair/Systems Thinking with respect to Medical Technology 5. Risk Management/Safety Issues with respect to Medical Technology 6. Education with respect to Medical Technology 7. Product Development with respect to Medical Technology.
Core roles for Clinical Engineers include (a) Medical Electronics, electrophysiological acquisition and monitoring technology (b) Equipment Management (c) Data analytics and Information Management (d) Endoscopy (e) Laparoscopy (f) Dialysis (g) Anaesthetics (h) Ophthalmology (i) Laser Technology (j) Physiological Monitoring (k) Ventilation (l) Rehabilitation Engineering (m) Radiotherapy Technology (n) Diagnostic Imaging Technology.
For entry to the profession:
Candidates must (i) Hold as a minimum a recognised qualification at National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), Level 7 or higher, in one of the following engineering disciplines; (i.i) Electronic, (i.ii) Electrical, (i.iii) Instrument Physics, (i.iv) Industrial Instrumentation, (i.v) Applied Physics, (i.vi) Mechanical, (i.vii) Mechtronic, (i.iviii) Biomedical Engineering; or; (ii) Hold a recognised qualification at least equivalent to one of the above.
Clinical Engineers are not currently subject to CORU registration. The BEAI is the delegate Irish organisation for development and implementation of the International IFMBE recommendation for certification of Clinical Engineering Ireland. The BEAI holds an Annual Scientific Conference.
Clinical Measurement Physiology
Clinical Measurement Physiologists are a group of healthcare professionals that work in the area of diagnostics, carrying out tests directly on patients. They also report on the tests they carry out. In addition to their diagnostic work, they work in the therapeutic area, initiating therapies and following up to ensure compliance and effectiveness and adjusting therapies if required.
Under the umbrella of Clinical Measurement Physiologists, there are 5 distinct professions: Cardiac, Gastrointestinal, Neurophysiology, Respiratory and Vascular.
More detailed information on each profession can be found at www.iicms.ie.
In Ireland, qualification as a Clinical Measurement Physiologist can be obtained only in the Technological University Dublin. This level 8 honours degree is designed to provide integrated training in the area of Clinical Measurement Physiology and has practice placements at its core.
Currently, Clinical Measurement Physiologists are not subject to CORU registration.
The Professional Body, the Irish Institute of Clinical Measurement Science, hosts an annual conference each year as well as multiple CPD events. All details can be found on www.iicms.ie.
Clinical Perfusion Science
Clinical Perfusion Scientists (Perfusionists) are skilled professionals who manage the heart-lung machine and therefore, the patient’s physiological parameters during cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) procedures. When employing CPB, the patient does not require his/her own heart and lungs to be working.
The heart-lung machine includes an artificial means of pumping blood around the body in place of the patient’s own heart and an artificial gas exchange device or oxygenator to oxygenate the blood and remove excess carbon-dioxide in place of the patient’s lungs.
The training of the Clinical Perfusion Scientist involves both practical training in a cardiac surgery clinical perfusion unit as well as an MSc in Perfusion Science at the University of Bristol.
Trainees should already possess a degree in a life science subject. There are a number of cardiac perfusion centres in Ireland. The College of Clinical Perfusion Scientists of Great Britain and Ireland regulates and registers all perfusionists working in GB and Ireland. All perfusionists must be registered with the College and need to re-register with the College every 3 years by reporting both clinical and academic activity. The Society of Clinical Perfusion Scientists (SCPS) of Great Britain and Ireland holds an annual scientific congress in the autumn.
Counselling and Psychotherapy
Counsellors/Therapists within the HSE National Counselling Service (NCS) provide short, medium and long term counselling and psychotherapy to adults with mild, moderate or complex psychological difficulties in both primary and secondary care settings.
The Counsellor /Therapist role within the HSE NCS requires a dual-layer qualification – (i) a QQI Level 7 in a human science discipline or a health and social care profession and (ii) a QQI Level 7 or above in counselling or psychotherapy recognised by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) or one of the five sections within the Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP) or (iii) a post-graduate qualification in Clinical or Counselling Psychology recognised by the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI). The IACP and ICP accredit professional training courses in counselling and psychotherapy and these courses are listed on the relevant websites.
Graduates of counselling and psychotherapy training courses are also required to complete a specified number of clinical hours under an accredited supervisor which is known as pre-accreditation to complete the “entry to practise” requirement. The PSI accredits the professional training courses in Clinical or Counselling Psychology which are required for entry to practice. Counsellors and Psychotherapists are to be regulated under CORU as separate disciplines under a single registration board. The membership of the registration board is currently being appointed. The Psychology Registration Board of CORU is responsible for the registration of members of the psychology profession. Each of the professional organisations listed above organises its own conferences and CPD events.
Nutritional Health for all
Dietitians are autonomous healthcare professionals who assess specific nutritional requirements of populations or individuals throughout the life span. They translate this into interventions which maintain health, reduce risk of poor health or restore health. Using evidence-based approaches, dietitians work to empower individuals, families and groups to provide or select food which is nutritionally optimal, safe, tasty and sustainable. Beyond healthcare, dietitians improve the nutritional environment for all through governments, industry, academia and research. (Adapted from European Federation of Associations of Dietitians, 2016).
Entry into the profession:
DIT and TCD jointly deliver the only undergraduate programme in Ireland. Post graduate programmes are available through UL and UCD and, in 2020, a further postgraduate programme will be available through UCC. Dietetics is subject to statutory regulation through CORU.
The Medical Physicist ensures that the application of physics to medicine in clinical, diagnostic and therapy treatments is safe and appropriate for patients, staff and the public. It is mandatory to employ Medical Physics professionals where ionising radiation is used for medical procedures such as Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology, Radiotherapy including Brachytherapy and Nuclear Medicine.
Medical Physicists are also involved in non-ionising medical applications including MRI-imaging and therapy, use of lasers, ultraviolet radiation and other medical applications of physics. Medical Physicists provide radiation protection advice and commission and advise on medical equipment and devices.
The Medical Physics profession requires a recognised honours degree with a Physics major. An MSc in Medical Physics is expected. There is a national radiotherapy physics training program funded by NCCP. Training in Diagnostic Imaging and Nuclear medicine is carried out locally in medical physics departments pending the establishment of a national scheme.
The Irish College for Physicists in Medicine (ICPM) is the registration body for registered Medical Physics Experts. The Irish Association for Physicists in Medicine (IAPM) is the organisation for CPD, networking and information for both healthcare based medical physicists and trainees and academic medical physicists and students. An annual scientific meeting (ASM) and workshops are organised by IAPM.
Laboratory medicine is an interconnected, clinical, multidisciplinary diagnostic service used by the entire population at some stage of their lives. Medical scientists are at the forefront and their roles include diagnosis, reporting, managing, developing and overseeing these services. The clinical services that underpin laboratory medicine include Cellular Pathology, Clinical Biochemistry, Haematology, Immunology, Medical Microbiology, Molecular Diagnostics, POCT, Transfusion and Transplantation Science and Virology. Patient safety is assured throughout the service by accredited quality management systems (under ISO standard 15189). Medical scientists also work as surveillance scientists, haemovigilance officers, bioinformaticians as well as providing expertise and advocacy through their representation on many national HSE and HSCP groups and committees. Additional medical scientist roles also include training of scientific and medical staff, translational research and test development, scientific publication, editing and reviewing, and lecturing.
A level 8 honours degree from a CORU approved course that also includes a clinical laboratory internship (in each of the disciplines shown above to comprise at least 1,000 hours) is required to practice as a medical scientist in Ireland. This is important because many diseases have multiple facets and are not confined to a single abnormal laboratory test result. Programmes are currently provided by Technological University Dublin, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and a joint programme from Cork Institute of Technology and University College Cork.
Medical scientist training is continuous and at least 70% of medical scientists in Ireland have a Master’s degree and/or a PhD. Increasingly, medical scientists also hold the Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists in the discipline most relevant to their area of practice. The Academy of Clinical Science and Laboratory Medicine is the Professional Body representing medical scientists in Ireland.
Occupational Therapy helps people to do the everyday things that they want to do and need to do when faced with illness, injury, disability or challenging life events. Occupational Therapy recognises the importance participation in everyday activities plays in people’s health and wellbeing.
The Occupational Therapist’s role focuses on:
- Enabling occupation, i.e. helping people to do the everyday activities of life (self-care, leisure/play, work/ education, social participation, sleep/rest)
- Helping people live a satisfying and meaningful life.
- Maximising people’s function, independence and participation.
- Taking a person-centred approach that focuses on people’s abilities and goals.
- Advocating for people’s human rights and access to services.
There are three undergraduate Occupational Therapy training programmes in the Republic of Ireland. These 4-year courses are at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork. There is also an accelerated postgraduate training programme at the University of Limerick which is a 2-year course. All four programmes are accredited by the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland and approved by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists and CORU.
Occupational Therapists are subject to CORU registration.
‘Sight for life, vision for the future’
Optometry is a healthcare profession that is autonomous, educated and regulated (licensed/registered). Optometrists are the primary healthcare practitioners of the eye and visual system. They provide comprehensive eye and vision care, which includes refraction and dispensing, detection/diagnosis and management of disease in the eye and the rehabilitation of conditions of the visual system. (World Council of Optometry definition of Optometry).
Entry to the register to practice as an optometrist is open to those who have earned an undergraduate degree in Optometry (B.Sc) from DIT and who have also passed the Professional Qualifying Examination in Optometry.
Anyone holding an overseas Optometry qualification must apply to CORU for recognition of their qualification before being permitted to register. Further examination, experience or an aptitude test may be required.
The Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) represents the interests of optometrists and provides a variety of services including CPD events.
An Orthoptist is a HSCP who specialises in the assessment, diagnosis and management of disorders of the eyes, vision and eye movements. The role primarily includes providing eye care for:
- Young children with vision problems including glasses, lazy eyes and misalignment of the eyes.
- Children or adults with learning difficulties.
- Adults with misalignment of the eyes.
- Anyone with double vision who may require prism therapy.
- Adults or children with acquired brain injury resulting in vision disorders.
- Visual field assessments.
Orthoptists are involved in many areas of care including paediatrics, neonatology, community services, rehabilitation, geriatrics, neurology, endocrinology and ophthalmic technology. The profession continues to evolve providing extended roles in clinics such as low visual aid clinics, ocular toxicity clinics, pituitary clinics and electrophysiology clinics.
Orthoptists are an important part of the eye care team and work closely with ophthalmologists, optometrists and ophthalmic nurses, usually in a hospital setting. Their role includes working with endocrinologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons and other health and social care professionals to provide optimum care.
To become an orthoptist, a graduate degree in Orthoptics must be completed. Currently, there are no courses in Ireland. Orthoptic degree courses are available in the UK and some other European countries but must be recognised by the British and Irish Orthoptic Society (BIOS).
The Irish Association of Orthoptists is the professional body for Orthoptists working in Ireland.
The IAO hosts annual clinical meetings and CPD events which are open to members and non-members.
Phlebotomists are skilled healthcare professionals who draw blood for analysis through venepuncture or through central venous device access. In addition to blood collection from patients, phlebotomists perform peripheral venous catheter insertion.
The Diploma in Phlebotomy QQI Level 7 is the national training approved by the HSE and PAI. Currently, this programme is in the process of being reinstated. The profession is not subject to statutory registration.
Phlebotomists Association of Ireland (PAI) is the professional body representing phlebotomists in Ireland.
PAI holds two national meetings annually; a National Conference and an Autumn Seminar (open to members and non-members). Study days and workshops for members are also organised frequently, based on identified needs.
Physiotherapy is a health profession concerned with helping to restore wellness to people following injury, pain or disability.
Physiotherapists are autonomous health professionals who are responsible for developing, maintaining or restoring movement and functional ability throughout the lifespan using evidence-based practice. They relieve pain and treat or prevent physical conditions associated with injury, disease or other impairments. Physiotherapists empower patients and their carers to manage their condition outside the clinical settings.
Physiotherapists help people whose movement and function are threatened by ageing, injury or disease, and identify and maximise movement potential through promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
The CORU list of approved qualifications for Physiotherapy can be found on http://www.coru.ie/en/education/physiotherapists_approved_qualifications.
The Professional Body, the Irish Society for Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP) hosts an annual conference each November. Full details of ISCP activities can be found on the website (details below).
Play Therapy is an effective form of therapy for children with a wide range of emotional and behavioural difficulties including depression, anxiety, aggression and issues relating to difficult life experiences such as abuse, bereavement and loss, family breakdown or separation, domestic violence and trauma.
The Irish Play Therapy Association (IPTA) is the professional association for qualified therapists. As such, it is a post-qualification association for its members. IPTA supports the current MA post-graduate diploma in Play Therapy at CIT, Cork.
Entry requirements for this training are:
Level 8 honours degree (H2.2) or higher in one of the following areas; Counselling/Psychotherapy, Early Years Education, Occupational Therapy, Primary Education, Psychiatry, Psychology, Psychiatric Nursing, Social Care, Social Work, Special Needs Education or a cognate discipline.
IPTA has two Association meetings annually (open to members only). Workshops and training events for members are organised annually based on identified need. Details can be accessed through the IPTA website.
Play Specialists, through play, help alleviate the negative effects of hospitalisation. The Play Specialist prepares children for all hospital procedures, provides distraction during, and follows up with post-procedural play. They work with patients to assist in the preparation for admission to hospital and to enhance patient’s understanding of their expected medical, surgical procedures and the treatment they will receive.
There is currently no Irish Professional Body representing Play Specialists. Neither Play Therapists nor Play Specialists are subject to statutory regulation.
Podiatry is a healthcare profession that specialises in the management of disease and disorder of the lower limb and foot. The foot is a highly complex structure, which can develop problems affecting a patient’s overall health and quality of life. Podiatry can significantly improve people’s quality of life by promoting and maintaining mobility.
Therefore, podiatry, as a career, can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling, giving immense job satisfaction.
Podiatrists are educated in diagnosis and in planning and implementing interventions for all age groups. They work as independent, autonomous practitioners.
There are opportunities to work in the HSE and in private practice alongside other health professionals such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, orthotics, occupational therapists and other HSCP.
NUI Galway BSc (Hons) Podiatric Medicine course entry requirements:
Minimum Grade H5 in two subjects and passes in four other subjects at O6/H7 Level in the Leaving Certificate, including Irish, English, another language, Mathematics, a laboratory science subject and any other subject recognised for entry purposes.
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists of Ireland (SCPI) hold an annual conference. This can be a standalone event or in conjunction with the Northern Ireland branch of the College of Podiatry UK or with the Podiatry College in NUI Galway.
The Irish Chiropodists / Podiatrists Organisation Ltd holds two conferences annually and publishes a journal twice yearly.
Psychology is a broad discipline that focuses on the scientific study of the person from a behavioural, emotional, psychological and health perspective. Psychologists work in various settings, including academia, industry, healthcare, and private practice.
The Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) is the learned and Professional Body for psychology and psychologists in the Republic of Ireland. When the Psychological Society of Ireland was established, its primary objective was the advancement of psychology as a pure and applied science in Ireland and elsewhere.
The PSI has helped cultivate a high standard of psychology in Ireland which is visible in both academic and professional settings.
These high standards provide psychologists who study and work in Ireland with the qualifications and experience that is needed to gain membership with the PSI.
It is only possible to practise as a psychologist if you have a post-graduate qualification in your specialism, such as Education, Counselling, Clinical, Work and Organisation, Forensic and Neuropsychology. PSI accredits such postgraduate programmes in the Republic of Ireland. The PSI also has an Equivalent Validation Committee (EVC) which validates overseas qualifications on behalf of the Department of Health.
The profession is subject to regulation by CORU. Whilst the Psychologist Registration Board (PRB) was established in July 2017, regulation has not yet begun.
- Annual conference
- Schema Therapy Training
- Supervision training
- Frequent public lecture sessions
- Psychology Matters Day
Radiation therapists (RT) are the group of professionals with direct responsibility for the administration of radiation therapy to cancer patients, including the technical delivery of the radiation dose. They take an active role in the justification and optimisation of radiotherapy procedures, including treatment planning, and in radiation safety of patients.
They contribute to the multidisciplinary team that facilitates the clinical and psychosocial care of the patient throughout treatment preparation and delivery. Under S.I. 256 of 2018 RTs have both referrer and practitioner status in terms of medical exposures of ionising radiation.
Trinity College Dublin (TCD) offers a B. Sc. Hons Therapy Radiation. Details of eligibility criteria can be found on the TCD website.
Radiation Therapists are statutorily registered under CORU.
The Irish Institute of Radiography & Radiation Therapy (IIRRT) is the Professional Body for Radiation Therapists in Ireland. The IIRRT holds an annual conference, a one-day event, incorporating both professions of radiography & radiation therapy. The event includes a topical keynote speaker, scientific and research presentations, awards ceremony and profession-specific break-out sessions.
Diagnostic Radiographers are medical imaging experts, using a wide range of techniques to achieve a high-quality diagnostic image which aids in the diagnosis of an injury or disease. They take an active role in the justification and optimisation of medical imaging procedures and in radiation safety of patients.
The main focus of diagnostic radiography is to identify and monitor injuries, diseases and trauma, using a variety of modalities, including X-Ray, Computed Tomography (CT), Nuclear Medicine, Ultrasound and Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Under S.I. 256 of 2018 Radiographers have both referrer and practitioner status in terms of medical exposures of ionising radiation.
UCD delivers a B. Sc. (Hons) Radiography. Using CAO code DN410, eligibility criteria can be viewed.
A Post Graduate MSc in Diagnostic Radiography will be available in UCC from September 2019.
The Irish Institute of Radiography & Radiation Therapy is the Professional Body for Radiographers.
The IIRRT holds an annual conference, a one-day event, incorporating both professions of radiography & radiation therapy. The event includes a topical keynote speaker, scientific and research presentations, awards ceremony and profession-specific break-out sessions. Radiographers are statutorily registered under CORU.
Social Care Work
Social Care Workers are professional practitioners engaged in the practice of social care work. Social care work is a relationship-based approach to the purposeful planning and provision of care, protection, psychosocial support and advocacy in partnership with vulnerable individuals and groups who experience marginalisation, disadvantage or special needs.
Principles of social justice and human rights are central to the practice of Social Care Workers. (Social Care Workers Board, CORU, 2018)
In Ireland, the minimum pre-requisite qualification to practice as a Social Care Worker in the publicly funded health sector is a 3 year Level 7 degree. Further information is available from Social Care Ireland. A key element of training is involved in a number of supervised work placements, in a variety of Social Care settings.
Social Care Workers are scheduled to be subject to CORU registration from 2022, following the process of approving some 40 programmes being delivered by 18 education providers.
Social Care Ireland holds a conference and other CPD events each year.
Social Work is a profession that works with people as individuals, in families, in groups and communities from cradle to grave, to help improve wellbeing and outcomes. This may involve helping to protect people from harm or abuse or supporting people to live independently.
Social Workers support people, act as advocates and direct people to the services they may require. Social workers often work in multi-disciplinary teams alongside health and education professionals.
Social Work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline.
Please go to www.iasw.ie/Social-Work-Qualifications
All of the information about qualification requirements is available from the above website. The website also provides weblinks to the universities currently offering social work qualifications in Ireland.
The Irish Association of Social Workers is the national professional body for social workers in the Republic of Ireland. It was founded in 1971 and has a membership of almost 1,300 social workers. The IASW is an active member of the International Federation of Social Workers.
Social Workers are subject to statutory registration with CORU.
World Social Work Day is held in March. National Conference and Annual General Meeting are held in May.
Speech and Language Therapy
Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) enable people with communication disorders as well as with Feeding, Eating, Drinking and Swallowing (FEDS) disorders to achieve their maximum potential.
SLTs work with people of all ages to assess, diagnose and treat individuals with a variety of communication and/or FEDS disorders.
Communication represents an essential and very important human need. It is a basic human right.
Communication disorders may include difficulties with speech, with understanding and/or using language, fluency, voice and with the social uses of language.
Difficulties with Communication and/or FEDS may be present from birth or develop during a person’s lifetime (i.e. Traumatic Brain Injury, Stroke, etc.).
SLTs work in a variety of settings across the community, from schools to hospitals and other clinical settings. Speech and Language Therapists work closely with other professionals such as nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, teachers, etc.
TCD, NUIG and UCC provide a B.Sc Speech and Language Therapy/Studies. There is one post-graduate entry to practice training programme, an M.Sc Speech and Language Therapy in UL. The profession is subject to statutory registration with CORU.
Irish Association of Speech-Language Therapists (IASLT) organises regular education events and a biennial conference as well as yearly study days to facilitate continued education for SLTs.