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Alumni Story: An Interview with Clare Flanagan RANP Mental Health for Older Persons

Friday, 14 July, 2023

Alumni Story Clare Flanagan

I registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) as a Psychiatric Nurse in 2002 and have worked in a range of mental health settings in Ireland and Australia for over 20yrs. I have worked as a Community Mental Health Nurse for 15 years and Registered as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner (RANP) in 2022. I was also seconded to UCD as a Joint Clinical Tutor in Mental Health Nursing for 3 yrs. I have been involved in a number of successful service initiatives and developments including the Living Well With Dementia Project and secured Spark Innovation funding. I also love endurance running and the great outdoors.

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCD? 

Fantastic campus including a 50m swimming pool and beautiful woodland trails. I made some great friends during my time in UCD.

What led you to study nursing? 

I had an interest in science and health care and did work experience in a local hospital in Carrick-on-Shannon and really enjoyed the experience. I also liked the fact that there was a clear career pathway following graduation and Irish nursing registration is recognised in other countries so I could use it when traveling.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying nursing? 

There are so many opportunities and pathways once you complete your primary degree so try to get exposure to as many teams and clinical settings as you can. There is such variety and your registration can take you in many exciting directions. It’s not all hospital based and shift work. I worked for 15 years as a community nurse seeing people in their own homes. 

What is the proudest moment of your career to date? 

It's the little things like individual interactions with service users and families. Feeling like you are really making a difference. 

Did you witness anything during the pandemic which made you particularly proud to be a nurse? 

I was very lucky to work with some extraordinary nurses during the pandemic. Nurses were at the cold face during the darkest of days and the leadership, skills, compassion and courage demonstrated was unforgettable. Many of the nurses I worked with were from overseas and I was very grateful they were part of our service. True heroes. 

What have been the most challenging aspects of your career?

Sudden deaths and suicides are always hard and leave you thinking what did I miss. It's important to have support structures in place to help nurses following critical incidents that allow us to reflect and debrief. There is learning in every experience.  

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

  1. ‘Run your own race’…..in life as well as on the track. 
  2. Time is the most important thing we can give to people. 
  3. See the person first before their illness. 
  4. You will always be learning as a nurse.

As a nurse, how has ongoing professional development helped your career?

As a nurse, you are always learning. Best practice changes as new knowledge is generated through research evidence and is influenced by contextual issues. Keeping up-to-date is essential for providing safe care. Learning also keeps things interesting and exposes you to new opportunities. 

What do you do to relax? Tell us a bit about your current life, family and hobbies. 

I run with a running club and train 5 days a week. I love being outdoors and involved in sport. I also love to travel, read and would love to do a bit more swimming.

Contact the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems

Health Sciences Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4
T: +353 1 716 6488 | Location Map(opens in a new window)