Professional Focus


As we continue our series highlighting the committed work of nurses and midwives in Ireland, this month we talk to Olivia Somers, CMS Lactation Specialist at Portiuncula University Hospital.

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Why did you choose a career in nursing/midwifery?

Caring was second nature to me growing up. Having had a brother with Muscular Dystrophy the caring role was instilled in me and my siblings from a very young age.

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

Yes, nursing was my first choice of career. I worked in a nursing home once I turned 16 and knew that nursing was the career for me. I found the role of caring for others in need very rewarding. I’m not sure what else I would have chosen other than nursing, but it would have to have been something where I could help other people. I could never visualise anything else.

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

I’m very proud to know I’ve made a difference to many people’s lives during my career to date. From delivering a newborn and checking for its first breath, to holding the hand of someone giving their final breath, I have provided support at all levels.

As a young nurse I was drawn to the area of women’s health. I pursued this and subsequently trained as a midwife. I believe my biggest impact was over the last year as I moved into the breastfeeding support role, which I feel was my niche. Having had 3 children myself and breastfeeding them all, I have seen first-hand the benefits of this and I have been blessed to be able to assist and empower other mums and mums-to-be on their breastfeeding journeys.

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

My most recent memory that stands out the most is receiving positive feedback from a first-time mother who was empowered at the breastfeeding antenatal class to be the advocate for her and her baby’s breastfeeding journey. Knowing I have made a difference to support their breastfeeding journey is very rewarding. 

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

2020 has been a year like no other, we have all had to change and adapt due to Covid-19. Having taken up my new post in breastfeeding support during the pandemic, I had to set up tele-health communications and virtual classes which have been very advantageous to anxious mothers-to-be who can now remain in the comfort of their own homes in these uncertain times.

Another positive outcome from Covid-19, is that it has made us all appreciate the little things in life, the gift of a hug, a smile and the importance of not taking anything for granted.

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

I would tell my 19-year-old self to get out of my own way by not letting the ego take control and to believe in me more! To grasp every opportunity that life brings, to live life to the max and not to overthink things! I would instill the phrase ‘this too shall pass’ when things get tough, and it always does!

If you were given 1 million euro to spend on health, how would you spend it?

I would promote breastfeeding to ensure that every child is given breast milk as their first form of nutrition which will have fantastic benefits for their health now and in the future!

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

Caribbean cruise, back to where we had our honeymoon. With three small children it may be a few years away but someday we’ll return!

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

Dogs Bay, Roundstone, Clifden. Breath-taking views, stunning beaches (sun and heat a prerequisite).

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In this issue
Student Nurses and Student Midwives to join the Vaccinator Workforce
NMBI Publishes Updated Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Nurses and Registered Midwives
Professor Michael Rigby joins the Board of NMBI
Dr Judith Foley, Education Officer and former Director of Education Standards for Nursing at NMBI Retires
NMBI publishes National Quality Clinical Learning Environment Audit Tool and Guidelines
New Audit Tool to Support Short Clinical Placements during Covid-19 now available
NMBI launches Intellectual Disability Nurse Post Registration Education Programmes Standards and Requirements
International Day of the Midwife 2021 – a Message from Dawn Johnston
Celebrating International Nurses Day 2021
News Round
HPRA Information Update
Professional Focus
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