People living and working in Ireland can now expect to live to 77 years on average if you are male and to 81 years if you are female. Promoting good health and extending life expectancy, to above average for EU countries, is due, to a large extent, to the highly trained and dedicated medical professionals working in our hospital and health centres.
Doctors, nurses, dentists, dietitians, pharmacists, physiotherapists, medical lab technicians, occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists are the key medical professionals at work in the Health Sector in Ireland.
Below is a brief outline of the main Medical Professions operating in this sector
Dentistry: Degree 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. The average starting salary for Dentists is around 50,000 euro a year and grows much higher with a number of years experience.
Pharmacy: Degrees in Pharmacy are now 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. Once they complete pre-registration, they can choose to work in a retail pharmacy, a hospital or in a pharmaceutical company. [Scolarships available for RCSI course - details here]
Graduates can expect a starting salary of around 60,000 euro working in a retail pharmacy. There is a high demand for qualified pharmacists and that demand is expected to continue. Pharmaceutical Technicians assist the pharmacist in the preparation, checking and filing/storage of medicines. TCD runs a 2 years course for this profession.
Nursing: Nursing degree courses are offered by Universities and Colleges throughout Ireland. Up to 60% of Irish graduate nurses go abroad to work within two years of qualifying. Consequently Health Authorities have been forced to recruit abroad for nurses to work in Irish hospitals. Newly qualified nurses can expect to start on about 32,000 euro. Their working week was set to 37.5 at the end of 2007.
Doctors: Degree courses are offered in Trinity College, UCD, UCC, UCG and the Royal College of Surgeons. 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. Click here for full details.
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.)
Standard school-leaving applicants to undergraduate medicine sit the HPAT-Ireland test and its score is used in conjunction with the Leaving Certificate exam results. A website has been setup to assist students prepare and register for the HPAT test, and practice tests can be purchased from this site.
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). It is also used for graduate entry to veterinary medicing in UCD.
As with nurses, an increasing number of Irish Doctors are opting to leave Ireland in search of higher salaries and better working conditions. 50% of doctors in Irish Hospitals are from non-EU countries.
Required Language Competencies: Recent procedural changes regarding the language competency of Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) can be accessed here.
Radiographers: There are two types; 1. The Diagnostic Radiographer who takes pictures of parts of the body where illness or injury is known or suspected. 2. The Therapeutic Radiographer who uses a controlled amount of Radiation to treat patients with diseases such as cancer. Salaries starts in the region of 34,000 euro. There are good employment prospects, both in Ireland and abroad.
Occupational Therapists: They help people who have a disability to achieve the maximum degree of independence in their daily lives. They are employed by Hospitals or work in settings such as schools, prisons, community centres or nursing homes. Starting Salary with a Health Board is 35,000 euro.
Speech and Language Therapists: They identify and offer therapy to people with communication disorders. Courses for this profession are offered by NUI Galway and Cork, as well as TCD. There is a shortage of Speech & Language therapists both in Ireland and the UK.
Nutrition and Dietetics: They give advice on all aspects of nutrition and diet. Hospital dieticians sometimes specialise in such areas as diabetes, heart disease, and paediatrics. They are also employed in business and industry advising or researching. They can expect to start on a salary of 34,000 euro.
Physiotherapists: They work with a variety of cases such as people who have had accidents, sports injuries, people who suffer from arthritis or children suffering from spina bifida, cerebral palsy or cystic fibrosis. Four year degree courses are offered by UL, UCD, TCD and The Royal College of Surgeons. They work in a variety of settings such as Hospitals, Community Care, and Private Practice. They can expect a starting salary of 36,000 euro.
Optometrists: Optometrists test eyesight looking for any disease or 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. After a couple of years experience they can expect to earn up to 80,000 euro a year.
Podiatry: A Podiatrist (formerly known as a Chiropodist) is a health care professional whose sole area of expertise is the foot and ankle area of the body. 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 degree in podiatry.
There is evidence of shortages in many healthcare occupations. These occupations include medical practitioners, podiatrists, dentists, various types of therapists (including dieticians) and radiographers. There are also shortages of nurses and pharmacists.