Health sciences are the most competitive of all courses

Nursing does not always mean working in a hospital as many work in community settings

The points for the health sciences tend to be on the higher end of the scale, particularly for medicine.  Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

The points for the health sciences tend to be on the higher end of the scale, particularly for medicine. Photograph: iStockphoto/Getty Images

 

Most doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and other healthcare professions have made their mind up long before now, and aspiring doctors will already have sat the HPat (if you haven’t it is too late to change your mind, although you could be eligible to apply for UL’s postgraduate medicine course down the line). And, unlike courses like law, arts, science or business, the end goal is much clearer here.

Health sciences are the most competitive of all courses, and the points tend to be on the higher end of the scale, particularly for medicine.

There is a plethora of nursing courses, with general, psychiatric, paediatric or intellectual disability nursing options available at all seven of the universities as well as many of the IoTs and St Angela’s College.

Nursing operates in an international market, and many graduates are voting with their feet and heading abroad for better pay and conditions. However, there is steady demand for nurses in Ireland.

Bear in mind that nursing does not always mean working in a hospital as many work in community settings, GP clinics, hospices, nursing homes and the Armed Forces.

When it comes to dentistry, options are a little more restricted as only UCC and Trinity run the course, although the Royal College of Surgeons has a post-graduate course.

Dental nursing is another option, and it can be studied at Trinity College. Dentists in Ireland are usually self-employed, but this is changing as bigger players like Smiles make inroads into the Irish market. An unemployed dentist is virtually unheard of.

Pharma industry

Pharmacy students generally go on to work in a pharmacy or in Ireland’s booming pharma industry, and courses are available at UCD, RCSI and Trinity. Long-term employment prospects are strong.

For those interested in pharmacy it’s also worth a look at pharmaceutical science courses: you won’t be qualified to dispense medicine but will train for careers in lab analysis and research and development.

Physiotherapy is a perennially popular option and employment prospects have improved somewhat in recent years, but it is still a tough industry.

According to Payscale, the average salary of a nurse in Ireland is €30,511, but there will be huge variation from this. For more detailed pay scales for health science graduates check out the guide from salary experts Payscale.