A Donegal woman is enjoying a new journey – and jobs galore – in healthcare after retraining for this sector during the pandemic.
Martina Roarty, from Dungloe and now living in Letterkenny, was let go from her job at the start of Covid-19. She was working in catering for a large company in Letterkenny, but, in the back of her mind, she always wanted to be a healthcare worker.
Her redundancy became the catalyst for something exciting, and she hasn’t looked back since.
Martina got in touch with Donegal ETB’s Further Education and Training (FET) Service. She received nothing but encouragement from the Information Officer with its Adult Guidance and Information Service at the time, Rose Duffy, who enrolled her in a Healthcare Support evening class.
“I was turning 40 and my kids were getting bigger. I realised I had nothing for myself. I was nervous getting started back at learning but I feel so much better now that I am doing something that I love,” she said.
Martina has yet to finish her final module and has already been offered multiple jobs.
“It’s the best course to do, the amount of opportunities you get out of it is amazing,” she said.
The two-year part-time programme was delivered mostly online due to Covid-19, but Martina and her fellow students easily got to know each other over video calls.
“It was a lovely bunch, we’ve all become best friends. Our lecturer Anne Tinney was amazing, she would bend over backwards to help you if she could. I didn’t find the Covid lockdowns so bad because I was meeting people, learning and making friends.”
The evening class suited Martina perfectly. She could be there for her family during the day before logging on to study at night.
The Healthcare Support programme teaches Care Skills, Safety and Health at Work, Care of the Older Person, Infection Prevention and Control, Palliative Care Support and Communications modules, among others. Martina also picked up vital computer skills from the get-go.
“I left school when I was young, so it was scary to start back. After we got our first assignment done, I was fine with every other one. It’s amazing how much else you learn from the ETB, not only from doing the course,” she said.
Martina’s first job opportunity came from her work placement in a local nursing home. She gained valuable experience over the past five months. Last week, she was delighted to accept a new role with the Irish Wheelchair Service and is now looking forward to applying her skills in a new field.
“The one thing I love about healthcare is you can always fit the hours around to suit a family situation. Healthcare assistants are needed 24 hours a day, so I like to work nights and be at home for my family during the day,” she said.
She will soon gain her QQI Level 5 Major Award. Other career opportunities that healthcare students can progress into are nursing, physiotherapy, youth work and other roles in public, community and private sectors.
Martina would encourage others not to be afraid to take the first step and start something new. “I can’t believe I’ve come this far; I feel so much better now that I did it,” she said.
If you’re thinking about changing career, upskilling or reskilling in 2022, Donegal ETB’s FET Service currently has a wide range of full-time, part-time, online and evening courses available around the county. Check out your options on their website (https://www.donegaletb.ie/further-education-training/course-finder/) or if you want to talk through your options, contact their Adult Guidance and Information Service – call 074 9178088 or complete this form and they’ll get back to you: https://www.donegaletb.ie/further-education-training/adult-guidance/.