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UCC's School of Nursing and Midwifery provides world-class environment for cutting-edge research

The School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork has been ranked within the top 50 nursing schools in the world, according to the QS global subject rankings

The school has more than 1,300 students and 50 research active staff.

Brookfield Health Sciences Complex


The school provides a world-class environment for cutting-edge research to prepare tomorrow’s nurses and midwives to shape and advance health care practices through research and education. Within UCC’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, researchers are addressing global challenges, including the growing burden of diseases, nurse workforce requirements, population ageing, and sustainable approaches to healthcare and health promotion.

Even pre-Covid-19, many global organisations had projected nursing and midwifery to be one of the top occupations for job growth. There are just under 28 million nurses worldwide, about 5.9 million short of what the world needs to adequately care for the growing population. We need to educate more nurses and midwives to address the global shortages of these vital professionals.

The school has more than 1,300 students and 50 research active staff. It is impossible to list out all of the research projects and areas of expertise in this piece. However, we hope these profiles will give you a clearer picture of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, whose staff and students are dedicated to continuous improvement and constantly striving to positively impact the care of patients and their families across health care settings.

Research within the school would not be possible without the support of many organisations, including the Health Service Executive, the Department of Health, Health Research Board, Irish Cancer Society, Breakthrough Cancer Research, Irish Hospice Foundation, ESB Energy for Generations Fund, Irish Research Council, All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, and the EU’s various educational and research funding programmes.

[UCC School of Nursing and Midwifery Annual Report, 2020]

Dr Nilima J Pandit

Dr Nilima J Pandit has just completed her doctorate, in which she examines the relationship between mother’s social support, self-efficacy and resilience following stillbirth. She found that women who experienced the loss of an infant and had high levels of support from family and health care professionals, had higher resilience and thus were better able to cope with their loss. “It takes time to learn the entire process of research and that the doctorate gives a sense of achievement and worth,” Dr Pandit notes. “It is surreal when people around you start recognising your potential.”

Michelle Clifford

Michelle Clifford is a Master’s by research student. She hopes her research will inform the development of a checklist for use in long-term care by nursing staff to enhance the way pain is assessed and to ultimately improve the quality of care received by older adults. “Doing a research master’s degree has empowered me to be an independent critical thinker,” she says. “I wanted to become a nurse to help make a small difference to one individual, and now through research I hope to make an impact on pain assessment for all people living in long term care.”

Prof Patricia Leahy-Warren

Prof Patricia Leahy-Warren is chair of the Maternity, Families and Primary Care Research Group. She is currently working on a collaborative project about evidence-based practice for exclusive breastfeeding throughout women’s perinatal journey. Research findings will have a direct impact on women’s ability to exclusively breastfeed, which will have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing and that of their infants and families.

Prof Jonathan Drennan

Prof Jonathan Drennan’s research is on the nursing workforce in Ireland. He leads a team researching the safe staffing of wards, emergency departments and older persons settings in Ireland; that will ensure the right number of nurses are in the right place, with the right skills at the right time. This research tells us how staffing levels impact on patient care. Prof Drennan’s research also involves putting in place an intervention that improves the working environment in hospitals and, consequently, the health and wellbeing of nursing and medical staff. This research is being undertaken in partnership with hospitals across Europe and the US.

Prof Josephine Hegarty

Prof Josephine Hegarty

Prof Josephine Hegarty leads the Enhancing Cancer Awareness and Survivorship research group. Together with Professor Connolly and a team at Cork University Hospital, she is testing the feasibility of providing a dedicated cancer survivorship clinic, with defined symptom management pathways for female cancer survivors at CUH.

The use of technology will help make the routine assessment of symptoms and concerns more widely accessible.

Dr Mohamad M Saab

Dr Mohamad M Saab’s pioneering research has created an evidence base showing the importance of using innovative technologies to increase awareness of cancer. Dr Saab is funded to examine the effect of a virtual reality intervention on raising GAA players’ awareness of testicular diseases thus potentially helping to detect testicular diseases early. Early detection of cancer leads to better health care outcomes.

Dr Caroline Dalton

Dr Caroline Dalton is a member of the new College of Medicine and Health Inclusion Health Research group, and is an active member of the Healthcare Ethics and End of Life Care research cluster.

Dr Dalton is a registered intellectual disability nurse whose research interests relate to supporting individuals with an intellectual disability, dementia and acquired brain injury.

Dr Dalton is currently exploring the economic impact of bereavement on people, which will help identify future required support services.

Dr Áine O’Donovan (Horgan)

Dr Áine O’Donovan (Horgan) is a senior lecturer in mental health nursing and chair of ENGAGE, an Interdisciplinary Clinical Mental Health Research Network at UCC. Dr O’Donovan has explored HSE staff awareness of and responses to suicide and self-harm risk across all sectors. Her research found that protocols to guide staff outside the mental health sector are needed and a widespread public campaign to improve public awareness on how to recognise and respond to suicide and self-harm is required.

Dr Johnny Goodwin

Dr Johnny Goodwin is a lecturer in mental health nursing. He has been involved in some really creative and innovative projects, such as collaborating with Cork International Film Festival to evaluate the impact of a film-based mental health workshop in enhancing adolescents' knowledge of mental health. Film is an effective tool to use when engaging adolescents in mental health education, with participants reporting improvements in their overall mental health knowledge.

Dr Elaine Lehane

Dr Elaine Lehane is a senior lecturer and with a particular interest in the teaching and learning of evidence-based practice across health professions and has pioneered the development of a Competency Framework for Clinical Effectiveness Education for Healthcare Professionals in Ireland. Dr Lehane believes that fostering a culture of clinical effectiveness in healthcare is crucial to achieving optimum outcomes for patients.

Dr Angela Flynn

Dr Angela Flynn has recently established a new research group across UCC’s College of Medicine and Health in order to achieve more inclusive health care.

Additionally, she leads the Irish team on a European study developing supports for refugee, migrant or asylum-seeking students in third level education in Europe.

Prof Corina Naughton

Prof Corina Naughton is a professor of clinical nursing in older person’s healthcare, which is a joint post between UCC’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and the South/South-West Hospital Group (SSWHG).

Prof Naughton’s most recent project, the Frailty Care Bundle, is a co-design endeavour in which older adults, SSWHG nursing staff and a multidisciplinary team have created a bundle of essential care that promotes nutrition, early mobilisation and cognitive engagement for older patients during hospitalisation.

This helps get people well and back to their homes as quickly as possible.

Dr Nicola Cornally

Dr Nicola Cornally is a senior lecturer whose most recent project aims to assist nursing home staff across six countries in supporting family carers when they need to make difficult decisions about end-of-life care for relatives with advanced dementia. The results of the study will help with the development of international guidelines that will directly impact on family engagement in decision-making at end-of-life for relatives with advanced dementia. 

Dr Irene Hartigan

Dr Irene Hartigan is a lecturer with a clinical background in the care of people following a stroke. One of Dr Hartigan’s current projects aims to establish priorities for family carers and produce a focused road map for Family Carers Ireland to support the development of a three-year research strategy that directly speaks to the priorities of their members.

University College Cork, PhD scholarships programme for nurses and midwives

The School of Nursing and Midwifery is currently offering funded scholarships to support the fees for full-time and part-time entry into the PhD programme in September 2021.

The scholarships are open to registered nurses and midwives, who are enthused by research, have a strong desire to enhance clinical practice and contribute to evidence-based approaches to care, and are interested in conducting research within the school’s research clusters.