Down Syndrome Ireland Research Nurse
In 2004 I graduated from Trinity College with a degree in Intellectual Disability Nursing and completed a Higher Diploma in Children’s Nursing in 2008. I hold a Diploma in Social Care awarded by Stockport University and am undertaking an M.Sc. in Caring for Children and Young People with Complex Health Needs with Queens University Belfast.
I have worked for many years caring for children and adults with a disability, in community, residential and hospital environments. Currently I am employed as a Clinical Nurse Manager II for children with Down syndrome in Tallaght Hospital and a Research Nurse in the TCD Department of Paediatrics; my post is supported by Down Syndrome Ireland. I am a steering group member of the Down Syndrome Medical Interest Group in the UK and Ireland and also lecture nursing, midwifery and medical students in Trinity College. My subjects of interest are heath and Down syndrome and also how parents receive news a diagnosis.
As the only nurse in the country that specialises within the area, I provide nationwide support for children and families from birth to 18 years. My unique position allows me to be an advocate for children on a daily basis and, through the nurse-managed clinic in Tallaght Hospital, I receive referrals from maternity hospitals across the country, community services and also self-referrals from parents. The nature of the calls I receive include queries from parents requesting appointments for their children, requests for ward consultations, calls from new parents, visits to other children’s hospitals and general medical queries. I continue to learn new things from the children and their families on a daily basis.
As part of my research I played a pivotal role in setting up The National Register for Children with Down syndrome, the register’s data is held and managed within the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health with the Trinity Centre at Tallaght Hospital.
The nurse education I have received at Trinity College and the people that I have met along my academic journey have inspired me in the current professional nursing research role and continue to do so. The most important message I have learned throughout my professional educational journey is “to always put the person and their families first”. I believe that if all nurses and midwives were to follow this mantra, we could be sure that the care we provide is always of a very high standard.
Fiona lives in Dublin with her husband Aidan and her 2 year old son Clive.