It's just what the doctor ordered as 32 graduate medics complete studies
THEY arrived yesterday, after taking a more scenic route. Four years ago, 32 third-level graduates opted to return to university to become doctors.
Yesterday, the diverse class became the first group to graduate from the University of Limerick's (UL) Graduate Entry Medical School.
All but one of the doctors will remain in the country for their year-long internships, which begin over the coming weeks.
Top of the medicine and surgery class was Michael O'Callaghan (27) from Bruff, Co Limerick.
Mr O'Callghan previously worked as an engineer with Intel for two years before returning to university.
"I worked at the engineering for a while and I had an idea of the career path and where it was going for me," Mr O'Callaghan said.
"Medicine is something I always wanted to do as well and when the opportunity came to study here in Limerick, I took it."
He said he was now considering becoming a GP.
"I am in no rush to decide. There is plenty of time," Mr O'Callaghan said.
Some of those who graduated yesterday would not have secured enough points to secure a place in medicine after their Leaving Certificates. They secured places in the UL course through completing an earlier third-level course, and spent half of their graduate degree working in hospitals. Former chemistry and maths teacher Brian King (30) from Galway described his four years in UL as "tough, but fantastic".
"We had two full, solid, years of clinical placement. We did 42 weeks this year and 42 weeks last year," Mr King said.
"We got really involved on such long placements rather than two weeks dipping in and out.
"We did nine weeks stints in surgery, nine weeks in medicine, working with patients, reporting to consultants, overnights and on call. It was a great experience," he said.
"I am now off to six months in University Hospital Galway for medicine and six months in Mayo General for surgery.
"It is good that there is intern places here for Irish graduates. Then everyone will decide what they want to do and where they would like to work," he added.
The UL school is the country's first medical school to be founded since the establishment of the State.
UL President Professor Don Barry said the Graduate Entry Medical School was another clear illustration of the pioneering ethos at the Limerick campus.
"The idea that UL could have a medical school at all was bold, the idea that we would tender against more established medical schools for the honour was brave, the idea that it would be like no other in the country was ambitious, but we were determined; nothing is impossible and we have done it, our way," Mr Barry said.