Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Richard Storey from McDonald's to give some advice for people considering this job:


Richard Storey

Shift Manager


Read more

  Richard Storey

The initial couple of days can be tough as you are in training and it can make people rethink about working here, but I would have to say persevere, as there are rewards at the end of the tunnel.

McDonald's put their people first and never leave them doing the same job all the time. To work in McDonald's you requires patience, a good personality with a willingness to learn something new everyday.

Showing an interest in other peoples interests would help as you have to work as a team so interpersonal skills are ESSENTIAL!!


The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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At a Glance... header image

Medical & Healthcare

There are many disciplines involved in managing patients in the healthcare sector. Career options and occupations in this sector include doctors, nurses, dentists, dieticians, pharmacists, physiotherapists, medical lab technicians, occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists to name but a few - all are key medical professionals who have chosen to work in the Medical and Healthcare Sector.

The sector can be divided into five main career areas:

  • Nursing & Midwifery
  • Medicine & Medical Specialisms
  • Dentistry
  • Allied Health Professionals
  • Medical diagnostics
All positions within the health sector have minimum qualifications attached to them and certain professions and therapies require that you study and qualify in that particular area. Doctors, Dentists, Nurses, Opticians and Pharmacists are all subject to statutory registration in Ireland. Complementary and Alternative Medicine are additionally presented here.

Visit What the Experts Say for detailed information from the HSE.

Nursing & Midwifery header image

Nursing covers a range of general and specialist areas including: General Nurse; Public Health Nurse; Midwife; Children's Nurse; Psychiatric Nurse;  Practice Nurse; Theatre Nurse; Nurse Manager; Agency Nurse, Palliative Care Nurse . New roles for nurses are emerging all the time such as Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Prescriber.  

There are opportunities for Nurses to work all over the world, and in wide variety of settings, as well as in hospitals. They may find careers in areas as diverse as: The World Health Organisation; a University Campus; the Occupational Health in industry; with voluntary agencies such as Concern or Goal; in the area of Health Promotion, or as Medical Representatives. 

General Nursing

General Nursing offers a wide variety of career options. A General Nurse works as part of a multidisciplinary team towards promoting and maintaining the health of individuals, families and communities, caring for those who develop health problems and supporting them to live their lives to the maximum potential. General Nursing equips you to work in other settings such as the community, nursing homes, hospice care, the army, universities etc.
Click image for 2017 entry details to Pre Registration Honours Nursing Degree Programmes.

General Nursing degree courses are offered by Universities and Colleges throughout Ireland. On completion, you graduate with an honours Bachelor of Science degree in General Nursing, and can apply to register as a General Nurse to An Bord Altranais, the profession’s regulatory body. You are then ready to start work as a qualified General Nurse in a variety of clinical settings. Newly qualified nurses can currently expect a starting salary of about €24,418.

Career progression in Nursing depends on a mixture of work experience and further study. For example, further post-registration programme options include: Children's Nursing; Nurse Tutor; Public Health Nursing; and Nurse Prescriber.

Post-graduate Diplomas and Masters Qualifications will provide further career opportunities such as: Clinical Nurse Specialist, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Emergency Nursing, and Intensive Care Nursing. 

A General Nursing qualification can also lead to careers in such areas as Health Service Management or Medical Research. It worth noting that a general nursing qualification is recognised in many other countries, and so is also a passport to opportunities to travel and work abroad.

Are you suited to a career in Nursing or Midwifery? 
A new on-line self-assessment questionnaire for prospective nursing and midwifery candidates is available from the Public Appointments Service (PAS). This questionnaire will assist both school leavers and mature candidates in their personal understanding of the role of the nurse and midwife and their suitability to undertake the education programme.


Midwives work in public and private healthcare settings, and in community healthcare settings, such as Primary Healthcare Teams.

To qualify as a midwife requires successful completion of a 4-year Bachelor's Degree in Midwifery, which is offered in 6 University centres around the country, followed by registration as a midwife with An Bord Altranais. Midwives then typically spend their first year gaining practical experience in either a public or a private healthcare setting.


Nursing is a rewarding job and a popular career choice - one that will always be needed. Nurses are hugely in demand at the moment, both in Ireland and abroad, however, getting into nursing continues to be competitive for school leavers. 


The main entry route to nursing is based on CAO points. 

To study General Nursing in Ireland, the points requirement in 2016 ranged from 400 points (at Dundalk IT) to 460 points (at University of Limerick).

In Dublin City University for example, 450 points were required for General Nursing DC215, up 20 points on the previous year. 450 points equates to at least a H4 (Formerly C1 grade) in five subjects taken at Higher level in the Leaving Certificate, plus one higher grade. 

With first preferences for Nursing up significantly again this year, Points are set to increase for 2016/17 college places, making already competitive course entry even more so for students. So what other options are there?

FET /QQI Route

A popular alternative route to nursing is through further education. Following the Leaving Cert, students can undertake a one-year FET /QQI Level 5 Certificate in Nursing or Pre Nursing Studies. Those who achieve a minimum of five distinctions are entitled to apply for places reserved for FET/QQI graduates on several third-level nursing degree courses.

Be aware though, competition is still tough when taking this route and FET Applicants are not guaranteed a place, even with all distinctions in their course modules. You can check the CAO quota of places reserved for QQI FET/FETAC applicants on Nursing courses here.


A Mature Applicant is an applicant who is 23 years of age or over by 1 January in the year of entry and who wishes to be considered for a place on grounds of mature years and not on examination results.

All mature applicants must sit an assessment test to be considered for a place on a nursing or midwifery programme.

A mature application cannot be considered unless:

  • it has been included among an applicant’s original course choices by 1 February in the year of application
  • it has been added to the existing application not later than the final date for correction of errors or omissions. Check with the CAO.
Mature applicants need only apply once and can be considered as mature and on QQI FET and/or Leaving Certificate.

Note: For Applications in 2017, both standard and mature applicants will use the same CAO course codes.

Applying for the Assessment Test [Mature Applicants Only]

Having applied through the CAO by 5.15pm on 1 February 2017, Mature Applicants must also register and apply to sit an assessment test, which is conducted by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) on behalf of NMBI.

Each mature applicant must register and apply between 2 February and 22 February 2017.

There are THREE important steps:

1. Apply to CAO:  you will need your CAO number, a valid e-mail address and your Personal Public Service (PPS) number (if you have one) for step 2 of the process.

2. Register with PAS: Log-on to the PAS website If you have not previously registered and you are a New User you must ‘Register’ before applying. Please make a note of your User Name and Password as you will need it for all steps involved in the assessment test.

3. Apply to PAS for Assessment Test: Once you have registered you must then access the application form, complete and submit it. The application form will only be available on between 2 February and 22 February 2017, under the job category ‘Medical’, sub category ‘Nurse/Nurse Management’.

Applicants will receive an immediate email confirming that their application has been successfully submitted. This message should be retained. If the confirmation email is not received within two days please contact General Service Recruitment in the PAS at (01) 858 7730 immediately.

Please do not confuse Registering with Applying. Failure to register and apply will lead to disqualification of your application. Please note that once you have applied, you are advised to check your Message Board (located within your personal profile) for communications from PAS.

Please note: your application will be invalid if you do not complete all three steps. First offers of places to mature applicants will be made in early July. Further offers may be made in subsequent CAO offer rounds.

See also: Nursing / Midwifery a career for you [above].

According to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland:

Specific Level 5 and some Level 6 further education and training certificates awarded by QQI (which replaced FETAC, HETAC & NQAI) may be considered as an entry route for standard code applicants to nursing/midwifery. These are:

In all cases, applicants must have achieved distinctions in five components including:

  • Anatomy and Physiology (5N0749 / D20001)
  • Nursing Theory and Practice (5N4325)
  • Human Growth and Development (5N1279) or Biology (5N2746)

You should be aware that while you may meet the eligibility requirements, there is no guarantee that you will be offered a place. Due to a very small number of places available, a random selection system is operated by the CAO.  See NMBI for more 

Leaving Cert Applied 

Students with LCA cannot go directly to nursing through the CAO system, but may be eligible to apply for nursing as a mature student with certain qualifications or relevant experience. You may be able to take the FET route, but will be required to have Maths. It is vital to check with individual course providers.


Another alternative is to travel and enrol in a Nursing degree programme in the UK. There is a good supply of nursing places in UK universities for Irish students with Pre-nursing FET awards. In the region of 500 students take up this option annually.

Two UK entry routes are available to students from Ireland:

  • Go straight to university in the UK from secondary school, using the UCAS points you acheive based on your Leaving Cert grades (This equates to at least a C1 grade in six subjects taken at Higher level in the Leaving Certificate (Each subject is similar to an AS-Level)
  • Use your FET qualification results - QQI Level 5 in Nursing Studies in Ireland, is equivalent to UK NVQ Level 3 (Note: Some UK colleges will now accept FET qualifications but, only where the FET Nursing Studies programme has a Maths component).

It is important to note that each UK university has different entry requirements so applicants should check the minimum requirements for the particular universities they wish to apply for. 

University of Bradford - Nursing Entry requirements for 2016 & 2017:

Please note - changes for 2017 entry!

A Pass in the QQI Level 5 Nursing Studies programme with 30 credits at Distinction and the remaining 90 credits at Merit or above. (Note: University of Bradford no longer accept FETAC Level 5 Maths)

Applicants must also have GCSE English Language, Maths and Biology/Science Grade C (now H4) or above, or the equivalent from the Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary Level).

Anatomy and Physiology from the FETAC programme can be used for GCSE Biology/Science requirements, so long as Merit is achieved.

300 UCAS tariff points to include 2 A levels (or equivalent) - So applicants would need to get at least two Irish highers at C2 or above (now H4) and the rest of the UCAS points can be made up of any combination of qualifications on the tariff PLUS GCSE English Language, Maths and Biology/Science grade C or above (Now H4) or the equivalent from the Irish Leaving Certificate (Ordinary).

See: Detailed Entry Requirements here

NOTE: Some university Nursing Courses in the UK are BN (Bachelor of Nursing) e.g.Bachelor of Nursing, Southampton, whilst some are BSc in Nursing (Bachelor of Science). (The diploma in Nursing is discontinued since 2013).

Application for Nursing in the UK is via UCAS and should be made by 15th January each year. It is also worth noting that some UK Universities have 2 - 3 intakes per year for Nursing in September, January and March.

NOTE: Not all UK colleges accept FET/QQI awards - It is advisable to e-mail the admissions office of the university you wish to apply to and check if they will accept a particular FET /QQI award. Include a link to the QQI award you are pursuing and the modules it covers.

Numeracy, Literacy  and Equivalence Tests for Nursing

Some FE colleges in Ireland have established links to UK universities. The university tutors travel from the UK to the college to interview people (you typically have to do a Numeracy and Literacy test as part of this process). They will get back to you swiftly to confirm you have a conditional offer. After you receive your results, you’ll get another confirmation if you have an unconditional offer.

London Southbank came to Dublin last year to conduct interviews and held Health per-Registration Numeracy & Literacy tests in advance of their interviews. Only those candidates who passed the tests were interviewed - only 40 passed out of 100 candidates who sat the tests!  

If you are considering this route to Nursing, it is advisable A). to check whether or not Numeracy and Literacy testing is used as part of the selection process for the college that interests you and B). If it is, get some practice in! It is possible to find practice tests and information and improve your scores.

The University of Bradford is not currently requesting Irish students to sit Numeracy and Literacy Tests. University of Salford and Edgehill both require you to take Numeracy and Literacy tests. Their websites have a link to practice /equivalency tests [See Edgehill].

See also: Passing the Literacy Skills Test (Yellow book), Passing the Numeracy Skills Test (Blue book) available from Amazon UK.

Student Nurse Abi Taiwo found that doing FET / QQI pre-Nursing gave her a great foundation for the UK university Nursing course that she was accepted for, as she already had started Nursing Studies. The first year covered similar topics to those she’d already experienced in her FET course, although in more depth.

Details of UK universities offering nursing degrees to Irish students are available here

Maths and English - For candidates planning to use the FET /QQI access route to Nursing in the UK, the Maths element of FET /QQI qualifications can be an issue. Students are required to have at least one of the following to apply to study nursing in the UK:

  • A Grade C or above (now H4) in Leaving Certificate level Maths OR
  • A FET /QQI Pre-nursing qualification that has a Maths module


What financial supports are currently available to Nursing Students from Ireland studying in the UK?

  • Tuition fees are covered for students within the EU by the NMC (Nursing & Midwifery Council).
  • Irish students can still apply for a SUSI maintenance grant, whic is means-tested – more here
  • The level of funding granted is less than for other courses, as you are not paying tuition fees

Currently, no fees apply for Nursing in England. However, it looks likely that 2016 will be the last year where fees for nursing in the UK are free as this is set to change in 2017. A cost of £9,000 approx will apply. But, a student loan system applies [See below].

Scotland is still free - course fees are covered by the SAAS.

In Wales - fees apply - approximately £3,800 (University of Glyndwr don't offer a degree in Nursing, but have Health related courses) 

It’s worth noting that students from Ireland can study in Scotland for free, as course fees are covered by the SAAS – more here

Undergraduate Student Loan System in the UK

The EU Student Fee loan system is now in place in the UK. The loan is not repayable until you are in Full-time employment and earning a salary above St£21k /27k Euro. Once you leave university, you only repay when you are earning above £1,750 a month (equivalent to £21,000 a year) and then it's fixed at 9% of everything you earn above that. Earnings mean any money from employment or self employment and in some cases earnings from investment and savings. Loan repayments can be as low as 6.50 per week – 0.01% interest for a max of 30 years. [More]

It is worth noting that Irish students can additionally avail of the SUSI maintenance grant, as well as the student loan.

Q. Is the NHS bursary funding in England available to Irish students

No - The NHS bursary funding in England is no longer available to Irish students, due to the residency requirement. The NHS bursary is only available to students who have been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for 3 years, up to the start of the academic year. It is likely that all bursaries will be cut from 2017 and all nursing students will have to apply for a student loan instead. 

See also How much will it cost?


Application for Nursing in the UK is via UCAS and should be made by 15th January each year. Useful links to help with finding Undergraduate Nursing Programmes at UK Universities are  available here.

UCAS Application for 2016 entry closed on January 15th.

Recruitment in Ireland for UK Nursing Programmes

Some UK nursing programmes come to Ireland to recruit:

  • The NHS are regularly recruiting in Ireland and attend nursing recruitment fairs etc.
  • YourWorld Healthcare are a specialist healthcare recruitment agency and will be hosting roadshows in Ireland throughout the year. Check the website for more info - Dublin office YourWorld Healthcare
  • Kings College Hospital London also recruit 2 to 3 times a year in Ireland. They conduct the interviews usually in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick


The Nursing Board (Ireland) FAQs 

I was not successful in getting onto a pre-Registration Nursing/Midwifery programme through the CAO. Can I go to the United Kingdom and study nursing/midwifery there?

Generally speaking courses leading to registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) UK as a general nurse or midwife will meet the minimum EU requirements for direct registration, but you are strongly advised to double check this with the NMC.

If you complete an education programme in General Nursing or Midwifery in a European Union member state you may be entitled to direct registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) if the programme meets the minimum requirements stipulated in European Union (EU) legislation, namely EU Directive 2005/36. The best source to check if an education programme in the United Kingdom meets these requirements is the NMC, the equivalent body to NMBI in the United Kingdom. NMC website 

You will find further information for applicants who have completed a nurse education programme in an EU country who wish to apply to register with NMBI here website 


  • NHS salary starting point is £21,000 (€27k)
  • Salary rates in ireland start at 27K with overtime 33K
  • Ireland and England agency pay rates are similar at present, somewhere around the £30-£40 an hour

Students who wish to explore nursing in the UK in more detail can find more information here 

Featured Content


Medicine header image

Careers in medicine range from General Doctor or Family GP, to Specialist Surgeon, Radiologist, Oncologist, Anaesthetist, Audiologist, Dermatologist, Paediatrician, Gynaecologist, Optometrist, Ophthalmologist, Psychiatrist and many, many more.

Video: RCSI So you want to be a Doctor - Episode 1 

The first step to becoming a Medical Doctor is a recognised degree. On successful completion of the Medical Degree, candidates register with the Medical Council and then complete an Intern year as House Officer with one of the hospitals recognised for this purpose.

Further training is required by all Junior Doctors to become a specialist in a particular area. For example, General Practice (GP) - to become a GP you must undertake a further three years training. Another year is then spent as a trainee in a teaching general practice. GPs then complete an examination to become a member of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) or The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

There is currently a skills shortage for Doctors in Ireland. After qualifying, many young Doctors opt to leave Ireland in search of higher salaries and better working conditions. 50% of the doctors in Irish Hospitals are now from non-EU countries. 

HSE salaries for Trainee Doctors (Medical Physicists) currently start at €23,500. A qualified Doctor can expect to earn a minimum €65,000. Those who get appointed to consultant posts in a public hospital can expect salaries of between €127,000 and €175,000.

Entry Routes to Medicine

In Ireland, degree courses in medicine are offered by TCD, UCD, UCC, NUIG and the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI). UL has the newest school of medicine and currently only admits college graduates rather than leaving cert students to its MSc in Occupational Therapy and MSc in Sprrch and Language Therapy. You will need to sit HPAT for entry to any of these programmes.

Getting into Medicine - Undergraduate Route

In order for school leavers to be eligible to compete for entry to undergraduate medicine, they must both:
(a) achieve a minimum of 480 points and
(b) meet the minimum entry requirements for each medical school for which they have applied and these must both be achieved in the same sitting of the Irish Leaving Certificate Examination, or equivalent.

Standard school-leaving applicants to undergraduate medicine in Ireland sit the HPAT-Ireland test and its score is used in conjunction with the Leaving Certificate exam results.

 is a 2½ hour multiple-choice test developed and used specifically to assist with the selection of medical students at undergraduate level. 

The test is divided into 3 sections and is designed to assess logical reasoning and problem solving skills as well as non-verbal reasoning and the ability to understand the thoughts, behaviour and/or intentions of people. 

The test has a strong focus on general skills and personal abilities that have been identified as important for a competent health professional. 

HPAT – Ireland is designed to complement academic achievement; it does not test academic knowledge and it does not require special understanding of any academic discipline.

Undergraduate Entry to Medicine is based on the following:

  • Attaining a minimum of 480 CAO points and meeting the minimum entry requirements for the programme
  • Having sat the HPAT-Ireland admissions test within a one year period prior to admission to the undergraduate medical programme. 
"For example, results from HPAT in Ireland 2016 can be used for undergraduate medicine courses beginning in 2016 but NOT 2017. Do not register for HPAT – Ireland 2016 unless you are planning to apply for a course commencing in 2016 AND you meet the eligibility criteria specified in the HPAT"
HPAT Ireland Information Booklet.

Standard entry to medical degree programmes in Ireland is based on a combination of CAO points and the HPAT score.

The current entry system essentially diminishes the advantage of having more than 550 points; as students are only awarded one point for every five above 550 as follows:

Table: Adjusted Leaving Cert Points after 550

Students then add their HPAT score to their CAO points in order to compete for a place on a medical degree programme. A student can gain a maximum score of 300 HPAT points.

To calculate your total points:

Total points = Leaving Certificate (adjusted) + HPAT score

Up to 550 LC points: no adjustment

More than 550 LC points: 5 points = 1 adjusted point

Maximum LC score of 625 = 565 adjusted points

Example 1: If your LC points are 565, and HPAT score is 190:

Your adjusted LC points are: 553 (See table above)

553+190=743 Total points

Example 2:

LC Points=560, student has done HL maths, HPAT score of 185:

HL Maths gives 25 bonus points.

Total=585 points. Adjusted points= 550+35/5= 557 Total points: 557+185=742

~ The HPAT scores of successful applicants typically ranges between 160 to 228 ~

Click here to explore our Medicine Entry Calculator based on Leaving Cert and HPAT Points combinations.

In 2016, entrants needed upwards of 723 points to get into medicine:

Minimum entry level points: 723 points (in NUI Galway)

Maximum: 730 points (in UCD and TCD) - not everyone on these points got in.

Key Dates for HPAT 2017.

The HPAT Test date is Saturday 25th February 2017. This is the only opportunity to sit the HPAT in Ireland 2017.

HPAT Registrations open November 2016
HPAT Registrations close 20 January 2017*
HPAT test takes place Saturday 25 February 2017
HPAT Results released Late June 2017
*Late registrations accepted until 1 February 2017

The fee to sit HPAT is €130.00.

: Before registering for HPAT – Ireland, all applicants to MEDICINE must first get their CAO number. You need this number to successfully complete your HPAT – Ireland registration online. To get a CAO number please apply online at the CAO website by 1st February deadline. If a paper application is submitted, your CAO number will not be available in time to register for HPAT – Ireland.

Note: Candidates MUST download and read the HPAT – Ireland 2017 Information Booklet before registering to sit the test.

to download HPAT - Ireland Information Booklet.

A website has been set-up to assist students prepare and register for the HPAT test, and practice tests can be purchased from this site - see HPAT - Ireland 

Non-EU entrants to undergraduate medicine

Overseas students from countries outside the EU account for almost half of the graduates of the 5 main medical schools in Ireland. The points system does not apply to students from overseas.

The costs for non-EU students is steep. Charges per year are in the region of: RCSI €51,000; NUIG €50,000; UCD €50,000; UCC €44,000; TCD €37,000. 

Did you know ...

Leaving Cert students are legally barred from paying to get into medicine courses in Ireland.

One student, Frank Prendergast, took a high court challenge in 2007 and lost. Prendergast got 550 points in his Leaving Cert but failed to get a place in RCSI. He discovered that a fee paying foreign student with 500 equivalent points had got a place. Having written to the medical schools offering to pay the overseas student rate and been refused, he embarked on his legal challenge and lost. The result was however, an increase to the number of places available to Irish entrants from 300 to 460 places. See PRENDERGAST -V- HIGHER EDUCATION AUTHORITY & ORS, [2008] IEHC 257 (2008).

Degree courses in medicine are offered in Trinity College, UCD, UCC, UCG and the Royal College of Surgeons. The selection criteria fro each programme are outlined in the booklet below.

The 2016 selection criteria for Undergraduate Entry to Medicine at NUI Galway, RCSI, TCD, UCD and UCC are outlined here [pdf]

See also Education and Training on this page for current details of individual undergraduate programmes.

HPAT and GAMSAT: Applicants to medicine must sit the Health Professionals Admissions Test (HPAT) or Graduate Admission to Medicine (GAMSAT) tests and pay fees for these exams. (Currently €115 and €310 respectively.)

Entry Pathways to Medicine

Your choices around entry into medicine within Ireland and UK/EU/Further a field are:
1. Undergraduate with your leaving results and the HPAT (See above)
2. Mature student application via the CAO and the individual HEI
3. Graduate entry to medicine with GAMSAT and a degree, generally a grade 2:1, but depends on the individual HEI. (Some HEI in the UK take 2:2 degree marks. Always check with the individual college.)
4. UK or Europe - travel abroad to study 

Mature Entry to Medicine
A limited number of places are available annually for Mature Entry to Medicine:
  • 15 mature places are available at RCSI which are allocated via CAO. Full details of RCSI Mature Entry pathway are available here.
  • 2 mature places for Medicine are available at NUIG which are allocated via CAO. Entry criteria to the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUIG are available here.
  • 4 mature places for Medicine are available at UCC which are allocated via CAO. Detailed entry requirements from UCC are available here.
  • Number of mature places available for Medicine at UCD not specified. Details of UCD Mature Entry Route to Medicine are available here [PDF p.20]
  • Number of Mature places available for Medicine at TCD not specified. Details of TCD Mature Entry Route to Medicine available here.
Note: This is distinct from Graduate Entry to Medicine. Applicants who qualify to apply for Graduate Entry to Medicine will not be considered for entry as Mature Students.

Graduate Entry Route to Medicine in Ireland

Graduate entry to medicine in Ireland is open to both Irish and overseas students. You can apply after you have completed an honours degree in another subject area. There are 240 graduate entry places ringfenced for Irish and EU students, 20% of the 1,200 places available across the five main medical schools.

Substantially higher fees apply for graduate entry places, averaging €15,000 per year for 4 years - a total of €60,000. Both AIB and Bank of Ireland provide medical fee loans of up to €60,000 to students which can be repaid over a 14-year period. 

Details of CAO Graduate Entry to Medicine are available here.

Click image for 2016 GAMSAT Ireland details

Graduate Entry Route to Medicine in Ireland

GAMSAT-Ireland is the route for graduates of any discipline who are applying to medicine via the graduate entry route to any of the four schools who offer the course (UCD, RCSI, UCC and UL). GAMSAT is also used for graduate entry to veterinary medicine in UCD. 

Studying Medicine in the UK or Europe

Undergraduate medical schools in the UK are accessible through the UCAS application system. As in Ireland, there are HPat-type assessments, alongside high academic results, which means that in many ways it is as difficult for Irish students to secure places in UK colleges as in Irish ones.

Popular in recent years has been the option of studying medicine in eastern Europe. Medical schools have had their degrees fully accepted and recognised by the Irish Medical Council under the reciprocal arrangements that operate within the EU. 

Unfortunately, many of the medicine and veterinary programmes in EU universities are more expensive, at about €10,000 (though this can vary from country to country).

Required Language Competencies: 
Recent procedural changes regarding the language competence of Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) can be accessed here {pdf}

Featured Content


Medical Specialisms header image

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is responsible for delivering health and social services in Ireland, employing in the region of 120,000 staff. 

The Sector incudes 47 acute public hospitals, 19 private hospitals and 22 voluntary hospitals across the country. In Public Healthcare, there is currently a move towards a Primary Care model of provision, where a Team is assembled, which includes: nurses, midwives, doctors and allied health care staff, all working together in Primary Care Centres in the community. Public Health Nurses and Midwives have an important role play in the Primary Care team model. 

Having completed their internship, many doctors undertake postgraduate training with a view to becoming a specialist in an area of medicine of particular interest to them: 

Emergency Medicine - This field of practice is based on the knowledge and skills required for the prevention, diagnosis and management of acute and urgent aspects of illness and injury affecting patients of all age groups with a full spectrum of undifferentiated physical and behavioural disorders. It further encompasses an understanding of the development of pre-hospital and in-hospital emergency medical systems and the skills necessary for this development. The National Emergency Medicine Training Programme was introduced in July 2014 as a 7 year seamless training programme.
Full training and career path details are available here.

General Practice - Specialist training for general practice aims to produce doctors who, on completion of training, will be able to provide personal and continuing care to individuals and families in the community. They will also have the management skills relative to primary care and be able to audit their work with a view to improving performance.
Full training and career path details are available here.

Anaesthesia - This is the practice of administering medications either by injection or by inhalation (breathing in) that block the feeling of pain and other sensations, or that produce a deep state of unconsciousness that eliminates all sensations, which allows medical and surgical procedures to be undertaken without causing undue distress or discomfort. Specialist training in Anaesthesia, including Intensive Care and Pain Medicine, is a minimum six year programme.
Full training and career path details are available here.

Obstetrics & Gynaecology - is concerned with women’s health – before, during and after the reproductive years. Obstetrics focuses on childbirth, providing pre-natal care and pregnancy support along with post-partum care. Gynaecology focuses on the health of the female reproductive system including the diagnosis and treatment of disorders and diseases.

Doctors in this specialty provide medical and surgical care to women and have specialist expertise in pregnancy, childbirth, fertility, family planning and disorders of the female reproductive system. Combined training in both Obstetrics and Gynaecology is important because these specialties often overlap.
Full training and career path details are available here.

Ophthalmology - the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye. An Ophthalmologist is a fully qualified medical doctor who has specialised in the correction of vision, and works in the treatment of all conditions, disorders and diseases of the eye. 

To become an opthalmologist, students undergo the standard medical education to be a doctor of medicine and then pursue specialisation in ophthalmology. In the Republic of Ireland there are two types of Eye Specialists: Medical Eye doctors who undergo 11 years of clinical medical training, and Eye Surgeons who undergo on average 14 years of clinical medical training.
Full training and career path details are available here.

Paediatric Medicine - deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions affecting infants, children, and adolescents, from birth to age 18.

Paediatricians diagnose and treat specific health issues, diseases and disorders related to the various stages of growth and development. They work very closely with the patient and their family.

Paediatricians working in general hospitals in Ireland mainly practice General Paediatrics. A General Paediatrician must be competent in the prevention, diagnosis and management of a wide range of diseases. They must be able to deal with the acute presentation of illness affecting one or more organ systems at the same time.
Full training and career path details are available here.

Psychiatry - This branch of medicine is concerned with the understanding, assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. These disorders relate to the brain and the mind, the person and their mental illness; how mental illness affects not just the person in their life, but sometimes who they are as a person; how to differentiate normal life stresses, distresses and difficulties from mental illness and how to understand the interactions between them and how we treat the person and their illness and/or their distress.

Psychiatry is one of the most varied, interesting and rewarding specialties in medicine. Every day can be different and every patient seen is unique. Psychiatrists work in a number of settings including hospitals, research centres, universities, people’s own homes, day centres, residential centres and prisons.
Full training and career path details are available here.

Radiology - the medical specialty encompassing all aspects of medical imaging that yields information regarding anatomical, physiological and pathological status of disease. It includes interventional techniques necessary for diagnosis, as well as minimally invasive therapy, which fall under the remit of departments of clinical radiology. 

Radiologists are specialist medical doctors in the detection of disease. They have completed Higher Specialist Training (HST). The Faculty of Radiologists of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland is the statutory body responsible for training of Radiologists and for certifying their competence for registration.  
Full training and career path details are available here.

Surgery - Surgeons specialise in operating on particular parts of the body or to address specific injuries, diseases or degenerative conditions. Surgical Training in Ireland has recently gone through a process of change with the introduction of the National Surgical Training Programme (July 2013).
Full training and career path details are available here.

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Dentistry header image

Dentistry is the branch of medicine concerned with the teeth and gums and health of the mouth. Careers in Dentistry include: Orthopist, General Dentist, Orthodontist and Oral Surgeon. You could specialise as an Orthodontist, a Periodontist, an Oral Surgeon, or a Cosmetic Dentist. 

In Ireland, Dental Healthcare is provided by a combination of community dental services through the HSE, and private /general dental practitioners.

General Dentist

A general dentist is similar to the GP in medicine. They provide general dental health care, prevention and maintenance work such as teeth cleaning, cavity fillings, and root canals.

To become a General Dentist, it is necessary to complete a full-time five-year Degree programme. Courses are offered by UCC and Trinity College Dublin. As well as having an extremely demanding entry requirement, the course itself is regarded as one of the most difficult in the country. Because of the demand for places, students often also apply to Dental Schools in the UK through the UCAS system.

Once qualified, many dentists enter general practice. Post graduate qualifications are required for specialist dentistry practices such orthodontics.

The average starting salary for Dentists is around €50,000 a year and grows much higher with a number of years' experience.

Support Roles in Dentistry

The various support roles in this area include: Dental Lab TechnicianDental HygienistDental Assistant and Dental Nurse.

Entry Routes to Dentistry

There are only two colleges in Ireland offering undergraduate Dental training that will qualify graduates to practise as a professional dentist. These are at TCD (TR052) and UCC (CK702).

Both programmes also offer a Mature Student entry route:

The Dental Hospital /TCD Dental Science ~ Mature Student Entry

  • Approximately 2-3 students are accepted through the mature student pathway, so competition is fierce and applicants are advised to be aware of this from the outset.
Dental Science UCC ~ Mature Student Entry
  • The maximum number of mature student places available at UCC is three.

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Allied Healthcare Professionals header image

This category includes all medical treatment areas and therapies which aim to relieve, manage and cure patients with particular conditions:

Occupational Therapy - helps people who have a disability to achieve the maximum degree of independence in their daily lives. OTs are employed by Hospitals or work in settings such as schools, prisons, community centres or nursing homes. 

Courses for this profession are offered by NUI Galway, UCC Cork, and TCD. Starting Salary with a Health Board for example, is approximately €35,000.
Speech and Language Therapy - SLTs identify and offer therapy to people with communication disorders. People of all ages are treated but most of the work is with children.  Problems from birth such as cleft palate, or special educational needs may be the reason children require support, or for adults, problems with speech following an injury, a stroke or an illness such as Parkinson’s disease.  

Speech therapists work closely with other medical professionals such as doctors, psychologists Occupational and music therapists, teachers and social workers. Degree Courses for this profession are offered by NUI Galway and UCC Cork, and TCD. There is currently a shortage of Speech & Language therapists both in Ireland and the UK.
Nutrition and Dietetics - gives advice on all aspects of nutrition and diet. Hospital dieticians may specialise in such areas as diabetes, heart disease, and paediatrics, for example. They are also employed in business and industry as advisors or researchers. Recognised courses to qualify to work in this area include B.Sc. in Nutrition and Dietetics. A typical starting salary is €34,000.
Physiotherapy - work with a variety of cases such as people who have had accidents, people who suffer from arthritis or children suffering from spina-bifida, cerebral palsy or cystic fibrosis. Sports Physiotherapists work with sports injuries, an area that has grown significantly in recent years. 

Four year degree courses in Physiotherapy are offered by UL, UCD, TCD and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. They work in a variety of settings such as Hospitals, Community Care, and Private Practice. A starting salary of €30,000+ can be expected.

Optometry - An optometrist tests eyesight looking for any disease or visual defects. They prescribe and fit glasses or contact lenses. They usually work in Private Practice, (retail outlets such as Specsavers) but a small number work in hospitals or lens manufacturers. 

In Ireland there is only one institution where you can study optometry DIT 4 years BSc Optometry. The course is approved by the Opticians Board, the registration and regulatory body for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians in Ireland. After a couple of years' experience, an Optometrist can expect to earn up to €80,000 a year.

Podiatry - A podiatrist (also known as chiropodist) is a health care professional whose area of expertise is the foot and ankle area of the body. Podiatrists are educated in diagnosis and in planning and implementing interventions for all age groups. A podiatrist, typically works as an independent, autonomous practitioner, demonstrating expertise in assessing, diagnosing and managing lower limb and foot-related problems. This career also involves working alongside other health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and orthoticists.

As a specialist in foot care, the Podiatrist receives extensive training in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of foot and ankle disorders by medical and surgical means. To work as a Podiatrist you need to complete a B.Sc. degree in podiatry.

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Medical Diagnostics header image

Medical diagnostics is concerned with procedures and tests to confirm or interpret a medical diagnosis. Careers in this area include Radiographer, Radiation Therapist, and Pharmacist.

Radiography - Radiography is one of the most important tools in modern medicine. The use of X-rays, imaging and ultrasound enables diagnosis and assessment that would otherwise be impossible. High-energy radiation also provides life-saving treatment in cancers and tissue disease. Radiographers have the technical expertise and understanding to use these advancing technologies to best effect. 

There are two radiography specialities:

1. The Diagnostic Radiographer who takes pictures of parts of the body where illness or injury is known or suspected.   
2. The Therapeutic Radiographer (Radiation Therapist) who uses a controlled amount of Radiation to treat patients with diseases such as cancer. 

Salaries start in the region of €34,000. There are good employment prospects for Radiographers, both in Ireland and abroad.

Pharmacy - Degrees in Pharmacy are offered by UCC, Trinity College and the Royal College of Surgeons.  After completing a four year degree course, pharmacists must complete a one year pre-registration period in a chemist or hospital pharmacy before they can work independently. 

Currently, the five-year programme in Ireland consists of a PSI (Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland) accredited four-year Bachelor degree programme in a school of pharmacy, followed by a one-year Internship Programme which results in the award of a Level 9 Master's degree. Once students complete pre-registration, they can choose to work in a retail pharmacy, a hospital or in a pharmaceutical company. [Scholarships available for RCSI course - details here]

As a practising pharmacist in Ireland you must be a member of PSI. Graduates can expect an average starting salary of €60,000 working in a retail pharmacy. There is a high demand for qualified pharmacists and that demand is expected to continue. 

Pharmacy Technician - Pharmaceutical technicians assist the pharmacist with dispensing information, processing prescriptions, the preparation, checking and filing/storage of medicines. The pharmaceutical industry is steadily expanding, and the number of pharmacies has increased significantly, indicating that pharmacy technicians will continue to be in demand. 

Two-year Higher Certificate courses are available, that qualify candidates as Pharmacy Technician. Colleges offering this qualification include AIT, DIT, IT Carlow and LYIT.

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Complementary & Alternative Medicine header image

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes a wide range of therapies, remedies and health systems that are typically not promoted within conventional medicine.

Below is an outline of the main CAM Therapies:

Acupuncture - a system of healing which has been practised in China and other Eastern countries for thousands of years.  It is used to treat people with a wide range of illnesses. Its focus is on improving the overall well-being of the patient, rather than the isolated treatment of specific symptoms. The principal aim of acupuncture is to recover the equilibrium between the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of the individual.

Most acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine training programs require students to have a bachelor's degree. Qualifications in areas such as physiology, anatomy, biology and psychology are especially helpful for a career as an acupuncturist. Prospective students are advised to evaluate carefully and choose an acupuncture school in Ireland that is affiliated with a respected Chinese University, and adheres to World Health Organisation (WHO) training standards.

Chiropody - Chiropractic care is concerned with the detection and correction of abnormal joint movement and position. It is often focused on the spine, but care also involves treatment of other areas of the neuromusculoskeletal system. After thorough examination and analysis, chiropractors use carefully controlled and directed pressure (adjustments) to restore proper spinal and other joint function and thereby reducing interference to the nervous system. Chiropractors also recognise the importance of nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle factors on overall health and will often give patients advice on these topics.

Doctors of Chiropractic undergo a minimum 4-year full-time university education (in England or Wales) with an emphasis on neurology, diagnostic imaging, physiology, and spinal adjusting. 

Homeopathy - a system of medicine which uses plant, mineral and animal substances in 'potentised' form to stimulate the body’s natural ability to overcome illness. It can be used to treat many ailments. Homeopathy is the most frequently used CAM therapy in 5 of 14 European countries surveyed.  It has been available on the NHS in Britain since 1948 and four of the private Health Insurance Companies in Ireland currently provide cover for Homeopathy. 

To become a homeopath and member of the Irish Society of Homeopaths (ISH) members must successfully complete a four year professional training course which has been accredited by the ISH. Registered ISH Homeopathy Practitioners (ISHom) have also completed a two-year registration programme with the ISH.

Osteopathy - a form of drug-free non-invasive manual medicine that focuses on total body health by treating and strengthening the musculoskeletal framework, which includes the joints, muscles and spine. Its aim is to positively affect the body's nervous, circulatory and lymphatic systems.

To become an osteopath, undergraduate training is available at The Irish College of Osteopathic Medicine at the National Training Centre in Dublin. On completion of the programme graduates attain a BSc (Hons) in Osteopathy, validated and accredited by the University of Chester, internationally accepted qualification, which affords graduates the ability to practice as an Osteopath in Ireland and many other European countries.

Reflexology - the holistic understanding, study and practice of treating points and areas in the feet and hands that relate to corresponding parts of the body. Using precise hand and finger techniques, a reflexologist may improve circulation, induce relaxation and enable homeostasis. This encourages the person's own healing systems to be activated to maintain wellbeing.

Professional practitioner training courses in reflexology are available through a number of centres nationally. More information is available here.

Note: There is currently no statutory regulation of complementary therapies in Ireland. Some have informal or voluntary systems of registration organised by their respective professional body, but these have no basis in law.  CAM practitioners are subject to a range of legislation and regulation, including consumer legislation, competition law, contract law and criminal law.

In 2003, the Department of Health and Children established a National Working Group on the Regulation of Complementary Therapists, which, in 2005, produced a report for the Minister of Health which addressed: definition and categorisation, education and training, professional associations, unification of the sector, and differing professional associations for the same therapy. This work has not yet reached its conclusion.


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