The FET Route to a Nursing Career

The FET Route to a Nursing Career

In 2016, Amie McNamara, from Listowel, Co. Kerry, sat her Leaving Cert, with the intention of studying nursing. She wasn’t 100% wasn’t sure that it would be for her, but she certainly had the idea that she wanted to go straight to university from school.

However, things didn’t work out as planned. After Amie sat her Leaving Cert in Tarbert Comprehensive and got her CAO offer, her points were not what was needed for nursing and the course she was accepted to just didn’t sit right with her. ‘I knew deep down that it wasn’t the one for me,” she tells us, looking back on August 2016.

Amie felt lost. She knew her friends were excitedly heading off to college to begin their chosen courses, while she was hit with uncertainty and dread. It was Amie’s mum who saw the Nursing Studies course on offer in the Listowel Campus at Kerry College and suggested that she try that.

Amie tells us: “At first, I struggled to get on board with the idea. I had a very stereotypical idea of what a Level 5 course was like. I thought it would be very easy, very basic. That wasn’t actually the case at all. It turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done.”

After reluctantly applying for and accepting a place on the pre-nursing course, Amie started her training and soon found her feet. “It wasn’t at all easy. If anything, it was quite true to what the UCD nursing course is like. I’m now in my final year of nursing only as a result of that Level 5 course.

“Kerry College was great - the tutors and trainers were brilliant; the modules were really varied, and the placement aspect of the course was what swung it for me. I knew right away after working in Listowel Community Hospital hospital that nursing was the career for me.”

After completing the Level 5 course with Kerry College, Amie had the qualifications required to apply to UCD for the nursing programme there and was accepted. “Looking back,” she says, “The course took away the overwhelming sense that the transition to university can bring on. It’s already such a huge transition, but having done the pre-nursing course, 1st year was nearly just like a refresher! I had a really good handle on a lot of the work already and had applied knowing that nursing was what I want to do with my life. I wouldn’t have been sure otherwise.”

Now in her final year of her nursing degree course in UCD, Amie is looking forward to specialising in paediatrics. She says: “Throughout the different placements, paediatrics in Temple Street Children’s Hospital was the area that really stood out to me. It was so different to any other area, and the experience just stuck with me.

“I have always loved children and am surrounded by lots of kids in my extended family. The most important thing when dealing with children is to come to their level, to empathise. I actually spent a lot of time in hospital as a child myself, so I get it. It’s great to be able to speak from a place of understanding. I have found myself reassuring children going for operations, saying ‘there’s nothing to worry about with a scar. Look! I have one, and I’m OK!’ It is as I’m not human until I show that I really get it. That I understand their situation. That makes such a huge difference.

“It’s funny to look back now at that time after Leaving Cert, and the dread and uncertainty that I felt, and think, what was it all for? I was so anxious about missing out on going away to university like my friends that year. But, in reality, location doesn’t matter, as long as you’re doing what you love.

“If it hadn’t been for the pre-nursing course in Kerry College, I wouldn’t be close to finishing my degree and setting out on a career in paediatric nursing.”

Amie’s advice for anyone thinking about doing an FET course: “If you’re even considering it, do it!”

To find out about all of the opportunities and paths availabvle to you, search the full range of FET courses on


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