Young, qualified and emigrating


Four recently qualified nurses talk about their expectations in starting their nursing studies and their experiences of finding work

EMIGRATED: Zoe Lane, 24, Midleton, Co Cork

BY THE time I graduated last September, I had gone to a recruitment agency in Dublin and sat examinations for different hospitals in London. I finished up with a degree in nursing from University College Cork last September and took up a job in Whipps Cross Hospital, east London, in November.

I wanted to stay in Ireland, but it was a choice between having 40-day contracts in Cork University Hospital (CUH) or getting a permanent job abroad as a staff nurse. There were 120 people in my class and only about five have permanent positions in CUH. Most of my friends who graduated have moved away.

Whipps Cross has been a brilliant experience. They are very pro-active in furthering your education. I started off in emergency, but I always wanted to do paediatric nursing, so I changed to a paediatric ward. The hospital is putting me on a course to convert to being a registered children’s nurse – an opportunity I’d never have had in Ireland.

Everybody who has come over and wanted to move on and do something else has done so, either pursuing the speciality they wanted or moving to a hospital they wanted to work in. They love the Irish here.

I do not have a single regret about moving here. Most people who have come over have decided to stay. I can’t see myself moving back to Ireland soon.

EMIGRATING: Ann-Marie King, 22, Ardee, Co Louth

I AM graduating from Dundalk IT on Saturday and will be leaving Ireland to work in a hospital in England. I applied to an agency in Dublin and got offered a job in the accident and emergency unit in St Richard’s Hospital, in Chichester, starting on November 22nd.

There are about 50 students in my class. The last time I checked 25 to 30 were going to the UK or Australia. I feel disheartened that after four years of a degree course in Ireland, I have to bring my skills to the UK when the Irish system really needs us. We were brought into nursing with promises of plenty of jobs, but when we got to second year in 2007 we were told there would not be jobs for us.

As a student nurse I have seen the extent of the bed and ward closures. This is all a result of staff shortages while there are plenty of new graduates like myself sitting at home without a job.

Nursing is a profession in which you need to continually practice your skills to remain competent and confident and in Ireland we are not being given the opportunity to utilise these skills.

I’m excited about the opportunity to work in AE, but I’m nervous at the same time. It will be my first time away from home and it is in a different country. I have mixed emotions.

I often wonder if I’m doing the right thing. My ambition is to come back to Ireland.

EMIGRATED AND RETURNED: Claire Murray, 22, Edenderry, Co Offaly

I GRADUATED from Athlone Institute of Technology in September 2009 with a degree in nursing. It was obvious after we qualified that we were not going to be able to get work in Ireland.

The recruitment agency Kate Cowhig Requirement came to our college and told us about opportunities abroad and particularly in the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

When we went there last November we were made to feel very welcome. Representatives from the hospital made it clear how much we were needed and wanted.

When we got stuck into it, we realised why. The place was so busy. There were very few nurses to meet the patients’ needs there.

They were employing agency nurses and that was costing the hospital a fortune. As time went on it became too busy. It got to us a little bit, but you gradually got used to it.

I came home because I missed my family. I rang the same recruitment agency and got a job in a nursing home in Trim. I’m starting this morning.

Of the 15 who went to Royal Berkshire, about nine are left. Many of them are considering going on to Australia.

The Royal Berkshire offered brilliant learning opportunities. I learned so much and it was an amazing experience. In England your scope of practice is so much bigger, you get trained up in doing things you’d never do here, but it was too busy. You were expected to do everything and sometimes you just didn’t get the help.

STAYING AT HOME: Alexandra Rose, 28, from Westport, Co Mayo

I AM a mature student who has graduated from Galway and Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). I got my nursing pin last week. I was an office worker before I went into nursing. There are no guarantees in life, but I was optimistic I would get a nursing job in a hospital.

I got work in a nursing home in Galway City as maternity cover. I am one of the lucky ones. There were 38 in my class. Another girl I know got a job in a nursing home local to her, but anybody in a position to do so is going abroad.

I’m grateful to have a job, but it is not ideal to work in a nursing home. We need to get hospital-based experience. It is a shame the HSE is not hiring.

Moving to England is not an option for me. I’ve been going out with my partner for six years and we are buying a house together. If it was five years ago I would definitely go in the UK because the opportunities are fantastic. You get good professional development. It is just a shame you have to emigrate there to do it.