Two new “direct entry” undergraduate courses will allow Leaving Certificate students qualify as midwives or children’s nurses after four and four-and-a-half years respectively.
This is a change from the current qualification route which requires students to complete a four-year-long primary degree in general nursing before then specialising for up to two years in either midwifery or paediatric nursing.
Responding to the announcement made by Tánaiste and Health Minister Mary Harney while outlining the 2006 health estimate, the Irish Nurses’ Organisation (INO) said the development was something it had sought for a long time.
General Secretary Liam Doran said it would give “a distinct and separate identity” to the position of midwife as well as increasing the general supply of midwives of which there is a shortage in the system.
“It has the potential to ease the shortage of both midwives and paediatric nurses. The only drawback is the students who come through these courses will not come on stream before 2010.”
The courses are due to commence in the Autumn of 2006 and follow from recommendations made by the Expert Group on Midwifery and Children’s Nursing Education. They will be provided in seven third-level institutions including UCD, Trinity, DCU, UCC, National University of Ireland Galway, the University of Limerick and Dundalk Institute of Technology and will cater for an intake of 240 students each year. The cost of funding the first year of the course will be €3.8 million, rising to almost €17m by 2011.