A Donegal woman is looking forward to making a new start in healthcare this Spring after completing her studies during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tara Sweeney, from Ramelton, has taken a totally new career route through Donegal ETB’s Further Education and Training Service.
A one-year Health Service Skills course was all it took for Tara to gain the essential skills she needed to get started.
With so many employment opportunities available in healthcare and services, she is now ready to join the workforce and make a difference in local communities.
Ever since she left school, Tara had always thought about healthcare and nursing. But she took a different path into banking at the start. After 24 years with Bank of Ireland, the bank sought voluntary redundancies in 2014, and it was the right time for Tara to take a step back and focus on family life.
Soon, Tara started looking at her options again. She began with a two-year IT and administration skills course in Donegal ETB’s Letterkenny FET Centre, enjoying the change of pace and flexible hours that could be managed around her family.
Tara enjoyed the structure of learning with Donegal ETB so much that she decided to finally pursue her healthcare goals in 2019.
The Health Service Skills course is a QQI Level 5 course, delivered over one year at the ETB’s FET Centre in Milford. It teaches skills such as Care of the Older Person, Communications, Infection Prevention and Control, Nursing Theory and Practice and Safety and Health at Work. Tara particularly enjoyed her work experience working with people with intellectual disabilities in Letterkenny.
“The work experience gives you an insight into what you will be doing when you get employed in that field,” Tara told Donegal Daily.
Gaining comprehensive training in healthcare in one year is a challenge, but Tara found that the course was delivered in a practical and well-paced manner.
“There is a lot of work involved, but if you are interested, it is so enjoyable. Not every module has an exam, we completed demonstrations and assignments and everything we are given to do is very manageable,” Tara said.
Tara also found that her small class size and understanding tutors helped her complete her studies over the year.
“The fact that I was able to go down a totally new route without any experience in healthcare shows how manageable it was. The tutors are aware that we might have children or other responsibilities so you are not given a lot of homework. You are given time to do as much as you can during the day. The thought of a lot of homework and studying can put people off, but that’s not the case,” Tara said.
Tuition has now moved online due to the pandemic, which can make it even more accessible to remote learners.
This programme also equips students with First Aid Responder Certification, Manual Handling and Patient Handling. Free Guidance and Career advice is provided by Donegal ETB’s Adult Guidance and Information Service.
Tara’s next step this spring is to begin working through an agency, where she can enjoy the flexibility and variety of working in a new role.
“This has given me a new boost, I’m looking forward to making a start and meeting new people,” she said.
When asked if she would recommend studying healthcare with Donegal ETB, Tara said:
“100%. The whole setting in Milford is very friendly and very welcoming. It’s a chance to get to know people with similar interests. The tutors are lovely, they can’t do enough for you to make you feel comfortable.
“The day flies by when you are learning new skills.”
Donegal ETB’s FET Service offers a range of one year full-time courses across the county in the health sector including health service skills, healthcare support, intellectual disability studies and nursing studies. A number of part-time options are also available in the day time and evening including an introduction to healthcare, nutrition, healthcare support, health service skills and first aid.
You can apply online for them through their website course finder (https://www.donegaletb.ie/further-education-training/course-finder/) and follow their social media for updates (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn). If you need further advice, contact the ETB’s Adult Guidance and Information Service on 074 91 78088, email email@example.com or complete this web form and they’ll get back to you https://www.donegaletb.ie/further-education-training/adult-guidance/.