University of Galway secures Government support for new healthcare degrees

Jun 22 2023 Posted: 07:34 IST

Major investment in regional and rural health with three new programmes: Pharmacy, Graduate Entry Medicine, and Graduate Entry Nursing 


Expansion of teaching and learning in direct response to healthcare needs and staff shortages



University of Galway has welcomed Government approval for three new healthcare degrees with a specific focus on community-based care and addressing workforce needs in rural and regional areas.


The expansion has been unveiled after Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris T.D. requested the Higher Education Authority to establish how additional capacity might be provided in healthcare.


The three new healthcare degree programmes for University of Galway - Pharmacy, Graduate Entry Medicine, and Graduate Entry Nursing - are in direct response to the needs of the healthcare sector and demand for staff, particularly in rural areas.


Government also approved the expansion of existing healthcare degree programmes at the University to ensure General Nursing & Midwifery has an intake of 24 students each year and the HDip in Midwifery has eight students each year.


President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “University of Galway is committed to the public good.  Our mission is to be a driver of transformational change for people and the communities in which we live. Government investment of this scale will make these ambitions manifest and make a real difference for health and well-being of patients in our region in their time of profound need. We look forward to the day, a few years from now, when 150 additional graduates are embarking on careers in healthcare after coming through our new programmes. It is an inspiring vision for the future of care in Ireland. I thank the Government for their support of our shared ambition for the public good.”


Dr Martina Ní Chuláin, Director of Strategic Development at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at University of Galway, said: “University of Galway has a long tradition of delivering excellent healthcare education. Our three new programmes build on that strong foundation, are tailored to equip graduates for the healthcare service of the future and are designed meet the needs of a more community-based health system. A key focus for us in developing these programmes was also to address the needs of our region from health and socio-economic perspectives. The new Pharmacy degree, for example, will attract more students from the west and northwest into the profession. It will enhance the supply of qualified pharmacists into the region and nationally, and it will ignite new research activities within University of Galway that will have a significant impact on the evolution of the industry base within this region. This substantial investment from the Government will allow us to create excellent programmes, within a modern learning environment, where students can thrive and become the transformational healthcare leaders of the future.”


Professor Martin O’Donnell, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at University of Galway, said: “University of Galway’s new degrees have purpose-developed curricula designed to address current deficits, whilst laying the foundations for future healthcare developments. Importantly they have a strong focus on addressing regional healthcare challenges, particularly with our new graduate entry medicine degree designed to address the lack of rural doctors. International evidence demonstrates that students trained in the regions are more likely to pursue future careers in such environments, and the developments announced today will go a long way to ensuring that University of Galway is positioned to address that need.”


Tony Canavan, chief executive of Saolta University Health Care Group, said“Increasing the numbers of nursing, pharmacy and medicine students will make a significant contribution to healthcare needs across the west and northwest. This welcome development from our academic partner supports the Sláintecare model of delivering a safe, quality health service that meets the needs of our growing population, providing the right care in the right place at the right time.”


Three new healthcare degree programmes

The three new degree programmes confirmed by Government will build to a student intake of almost 150 students a year.

  • Graduate Entry Nursing will have places for 20 students per year. 
  • Pharmacy will have places for 40 students in year one and 75 students in each year following that. 
  • Graduate Entry Medicine will have places for 24 students in year one and 48 students following that. 



A five-year programme being established to ensure students have the option of studying a pharmacy in the west-northwest. 

The integrated Master of Pharmacy Degree (MPharm) seeks to address the shortage of patient-facing pharmacists, particularly in rural regions. Students will receive their education within acute and community settings, with a focus on rural education. 


Rural and Remote Graduate Entry Medicine 

A four-year degree, informed by established international programmes and anchored in case-based learning with a focus on remote and rural longitudinal clinical placements. 

Year 3 and 4 clinical placements will be based in one of the existing School of Medicine’s Medical Academies in Letterkenny, Sligo, Castlebar and Portiuncula. 

Additional features include prolonged immersion in general practice; placements in the new integrated care hubs; and an emphasis on development of quality improvement capabilities from an early stage. 


Graduate Entry Nursing BSc 

A nationally distinctive two-year degree designed to offer a new option to attract a distinct type of student into nursing. 

The three main objectives are:

To increase the number of nursing graduates, particularly those who will remain in the profession longer.

To develop innovative training that augments the skills and competencies required for effective patient care; that responds to the changing landscape of healthcare delivery; and that equips graduates with skills for integrated care and community settings, purpose developed for the Sláintecare model.

To increase the number of male nurses, as the graduate entry model has been proven to increase workforce diversity, in turn better serving patient needs.


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