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Alumni Story: An Interview with Lisa Murphy ADON in Older Persons

Thursday, 7 September, 2023

News Item Alumni LM

I went into nursing straight from school. We were the last class to complete the Diploma in Nursing (2001-2004) and we were the first nursing class to enter nursing via the CAO system. I trained in St Vincent’s University Hospital while completing my nursing diploma in UCD. My first role in nursing was on a medical respiratory ward specialising in Cystic Fibrosis. I spent 9 months there before rotating to a surgical ward. I worked on an ENT and Plastics surgical ward for 6 years. I became CNM1 on that ward and was Acting CNM2 for a year before moving to a Cardiothoracic and Vascular surgical ward. I moved to Nursing Practice Development in 2015 starting as a CNM1 and eventually becoming the CNM3 for the department. After nearly 20 years nursing in St Vincent’s University Hospital I took up my current role as Assistant Director of Nursing in Older Persons in Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services in 2021.

What led you to study nursing? 

My Granny and my Aunt were both nurses, so I guess I followed in their footsteps. My Granny met my Grandad when she came to Kilmore Quay to nurse his sick father. I am the eldest of 3 children and had nearly 50 first cousins so I always had a protective, caring role growing up that led me towards nursing. I was either going to be a nurse or a primary teacher, but my Irish skills let me down, so I chose nursing.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying nursing? 

Go into it with your eyes open. It is not an easy career, but it is rewarding. You have to a have a strong stomach and a big heart to survive. You need to learn to protect yourself from the high levels or emotion and stress that come with the role.

What is your fondest memory from your time at UCD? 

Having our 1st and 2nd year lectures in the lecture hall in Earlsfort Terrace. It was so different being off campus, in the centre of the city, close to the National Concert Hall, Stephens Green and the Iveagh Gardens.

What is the proudest moment of your career to date? 

My proudest moment would have to be handing in my Masters. I started a new job on the Monday and went to UCD to hand deliver my thesis on the Friday. It had been a crazy time trying to finish the thesis, interview for the new job and I had also been dealing with a personal health scare. I thought I would have some down time after I submitted it, only for a global pandemic to be declared six weeks later. It was a great sense of achievement after two years of hard work.

What have been the most challenging aspects of your career?

I had a back injury and was out of work for three months. I was not able to return to nursing at ward level and thought my career was over. My manager at the time offered me a role in Nursing Practice Development and I realised that there were so many aspects of nursing outside of the clinical area that can still impact on the provision of quality care for patients. 

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

The way staff came together to support each other during such a demanding, life altering time in our lives was exceptional. The teamwork and innovative ways of working was something I had not witnessed in 20 years of nursing. 

In your career and/or personal life, who have been the most inspiring or helpful mentors/advisors that you’ve had to date?

My Granny was very supportive during my training and was very proud that I had followed in her footsteps. My ADON in Practice Development was the best mentor I ever had. She pushed me to do things that I didn’t think I was ready for or skilled enough to do. She pushed me out of my comfort zone but was always there to support me. She opened so many doors and opportunities for me and I will always be grateful for their support and friendship. 

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

My Nursing Diploma obviously started my career in nursing. I had learned all the skills required to work as a nurse in a medical and surgical ward over the first few years of my career. When I completed my Nursing Degree I started my first management role as a CNM1 in an ENT and Plastics surgical ward. I learned a lot about leadership and advocacy which helped me in my different CNM roles and also as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in ENT when I was supporting newly diagnosed Head and Neck Cancer patients through their treatment journey. My Nursing Masters was in research so it opened up a whole new field of nursing to me and showed me the importance of nursing based research for our patients as well as our profession. I have just completed a Professional Diploma in Strategic Transformational Leadership in Healthcare. This course was a multidisciplinary course, so it opened my eyes up to other healthcare disciplines perspectives on healthcare in Ireland. The skills I have learned through this course will help me in my role as Assistant Director of Nursing especially with the development of Integrated Models of Care with hospitals and community-based partners providing collaborative patient centred care.

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

I love going to concerts, the theatre and rugby matches. I read and do pilates to relax. I love walking in the woods or by the sea to reset. I love spending time with my family especially my two nieces and my nephew. Travelling to new places is one of my favourite things to do.

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

My Granny told me to leave work in work when you take off your uniform at the end of the day. She said if you take home the pain, sadness and loss of every patient you treat you will not survive in nursing very long.

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)