Mercy University Hospital (MUH) is “without doubt” an employer of choice in Cork with a 96% job offer to acceptance ratio, according to human resources director, Oonagh van Laren.
On an annual basis, several thousand job applications are received and several hundred of these applicants secure employment in MUH.
This includes doctors rotating and students from nursing, physiotherapy, labs, etc.
“MUH attracts a very high calibre of staff across all of its disciplines — medicine, nursing, health and social care professionals, support staff and management and administration. And our staff are eminently qualified and provide excellent mentoring and training to new people joining the hospital,” she said.
Oonagh van Laren joined MUH in July 2016 having previously worked in the private sector in financial services and ICT.
Originally from Skibbereen, Co. Cork, she was very aware of the Mercy Hospital’s reputation as an excellent hospital from both a patient care perspective and as a place to work.
“I was very excited to secure the role of HR Director at the Mercy when I decided to move back to Cork.
"Two and a half years later I am happy that both of these perceptions hold true and I am very happy to advocate that MUH is an excellent employer.
"On an annual basis, several thousand job applications are received and several hundred of these applicants secure employment in MUH,” she said.
“The mission of the Mercy is still as important today as it was in 1857 when it was the first Mercy hospital to be opened in the world,” said Oonagh.
“It occupies 16 acres in Cork’s city centre, treats 130,000 patients and has a visitor footfall of over 50,000 people annually.
“The mission of Mercy is that in the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy we provide excellent patient services to maintain and improve the health and wellbeing of those we serve”, said Oonagh.
In 2013 the MUH formally became a values-led organisation and its values of Compassion, Excellence, Justice, Respect and Team Spirit are fundamental to its culture in MUH and contribute significantly to its status as an employer of choice.
“Having such an auspicious and long history and a strong values led philosophy allows staff to have pride in working for Mercy University Hospital and contributing to the excellent patient care we deliver.
“Like any other employer, we compete for talent on a number of fronts.
"We need to offer career development opportunities, a supportive environment, flexible working arrangements, learning and development opportunities, fair remuneration, recognition, leadership opportunities, targeted recruitment and retention strategies all underpinned by the right culture.”
Oonagh points out that the Mercy is big enough and yet small enough to make it a very friendly, collegial and supportive environment.
“As a staff member, you will certainly feel part of the Mercy family.
"We know that when people come to work and make friends at work it enhances their working life, and this is certainly true at MUH.
“As a teaching hospital, our belief in lifelong learning is key.
"Our associations with the various colleges along with the MUH Centre of Nurse Education, on-site library and active training and development functions allow access to a huge variety of courses on a regular basis."
The Health sector has well-developed career paths in a number of disciplines e.g. nursing.
Opportunities can arise for staff nurses, senior staff nurses, clinical nurse specialists, clinical nurse managers, assistant director of nursing and advanced nurse practitioner.
“We actively encourage career development in MUH and opportunities arise regularly and are always advertised internally. Last year we promoted 112 internally, something we are very proud of,” said Oonagh.
"As a public sector employer, MUH is guided by HSE pay policies and benefits.
"After a challenging few years progress is being made in relation to pay and benefits and MUH adheres to national negotiations in this regard.
"Annual leave is a benefit that is appreciated in the health sector as is the approach to flexible working arrangements.
"The MUH is open 24/7/365, it takes a lot of flexibility to manage these rosters and as such we work with people as best we can”, she said.
MUH is a diverse and multicultural environment with staff from over 20 countries attending to patient needs on a daily basis.
“Feedback is that the MUH is a supportive and friendly place to come and build your career and life in Ireland.
"Being an employer of choice doesn’t happen by accident and MUH is careful in creating and preserving an environment and culture where people want to come and work and stay.
"Our aim is to develop and preserve a culture where our values are a way of life for all of us and are visible in our behaviour,” she said.
Recognising this, Oonagh has put in place a number of HR initiatives including a specialist talent acquisition role and a recruitment branding strategy in 2017, a culture and values role in 2018, as well as a wellbeing strategy to ensure the staff that are looking after the health and wellbeing of patients are also looked after from a health and wellbeing perspective.