Professional Focus


As we continue our series highlighting the committed work of nurses and midwives in Ireland by sharing your stories, this month we talk to Labhaoise Temple, a Public Health Nurse based in the beautiful towns of Dunfanaghy and Creeslough in north Donegal.

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Labhaoise Temple, Public Health Nurse in Dunfanaghy and Creeslough, north Donegal.



Why did you choose a career in nursing/midwifery?

I was at college studying science after the Leaving Cert at the then Regional Technical College in Letterkenny. I always had a feeling that I would like to do nursing as both my parents were nurses and I saw the difference their work made to people’s lives. The interviews came up and I went for it and was lucky enough to get it. After general nursing I decided I wanted to specialise in midwifery, and I found that really special and rewarding. After six years as a midwife, I decided I wanted to work as a public health nurse within the community and this is where I work until the present day. During my time as a public health nurse in Donegal I have worked in Letterkenny, Falcarragh and now Dunfanaghy/Creeslough.  

Was this your first career choice and what would you do if you weren’t a nurse/midwife?

I have always been a nurse/midwife/public health nurse. If I hadn’t become a nurse, I would have liked to have become a PE teacher or continued to study science and see where that would have taken me.

How do you believe you have made a difference as a nurse/midwife?

We are in a very privileged position as public health nurses to be invited into people’s homes and work alongside them to help improve or manage their health. This relationship is very different from working in the hospital environment. We are allowing people to remain in their own homes providing the best clinical care available to us. Helping families from birth right through to end-of-life care has been hugely rewarding – whether that is assisting someone who may only have days left of their life or giving advice to a young woman only starting her journey through motherhood, all situations are uniquely rewarding. At the moment I am receiving wonderful feedback from a breastfeeding support group we set up. It is very rewarding.

Do you have a memory in your job that really stands out?

I recall visiting the home of an elderly man who had never had modern bathroom facilities and who lived in basic conditions. He had never required medical care until his later years. We arranged for a lot of facilities to be installed for him including new facilities but he chose never to use them. It taught me that you can only reach out to people and offer help but it may not always be accepted. He lived very happily in his own circumstances. It taught me that you have to work alongside people and respect their choices. 

How has Covid-19 changed nursing? Are there any positives that you will take with you?

It has changed how we work as now we have to risk assess everything before we do it. Part of our work is now done over the phone. Our clinical work has remained the same and has increased if anything. People are afraid to go to hospital because of Covid-19 and require nursing care in their own homes. Some PHNs had been redeployed - including myself - taking on new roles which was very challenging and not without its stresses. However, it highlighted and demonstrated our adaptability and vast knowledge and expertise as nurses. It has also made everybody reassess their own infection prevention control standards and these will continue from here on in.    

If you could, what advice would you give to 19 year old you, starting out?

I would simply say soak up as much experience from the staff on the wards and to appreciate the high standard of training we received on those wards. 

If you were given one million euro to spend on health, how would you spend it?

Well, first of all, as we all know form the health budget, one million euro would be a drop in the ocean. But I would concentrate it on advancing primary care facilities, allowing more resources to go towards caring for people within the community which would in turn, help people to remain in their own homes. Fast-track, easy-access diagnostics for clients in the community would be another wish. I would also increase the amount of clinical nurse specialists within the community. There appears to be more managerial posts yet fewer and fewer people on the ground. We need more patient-facing roles.

It’s post-pandemic and you’ve just won a holiday to anywhere in the world! Where would you go and why?

Italy. We were there on our last holiday two years ago and planned to return last year but a small thing called a pandemic popped up. I loved the culture, food and weather there.

Back to reality…. You’ve a week to spend on holidays in Ireland. Where would you go and why?

I’m going to take a couple of weeks off in July and we are going to spend it in Donegal rediscovering all the beaches, walks and wonderful places I used to visit with my own family when I was a child.

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In this issue
NMBI issues final renewal notices
Social Media and Fitness to Practise
Meet the eight new members of the NMBI Board
Fitness to Practise Committee: Call for Expressions of Interest
Revenue advice on the Annual Retention Fee
NMBI to run public consultation on Ethical Standards and Behaviour for Students
21 per cent rise in CAO applications for college nursing and midwifery courses
News Round
The NMBI Interview
Professional Focus
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