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Interview - Soak up the experience

Darren Ó Cearuill, the new student representative on the Executive Council,tells Alison Moore why he believes students should get involved with the INMO

The new student representative on the INMO Executive Council is Darren Ó Cearuill from Dublin. Darren is a second- year student in children’s and general nursing in DCU. An active member of the Dublin Northern Branch, he was co-opted to the student seat on the Executive Council in January this year and was subsequently elected for the new term of office.

Darren, now aged 26 has taken an unconventional route into nursing having spent several years working in aviation security, starting at just 16 years old, and more recently gaming IT – careers that are light years away from nursing. However, the idea of a career in nursing was always there in the background.

“I think I’m a caring person. It’s something that always interested me. I thought about it for a long time and realised it was the path I wanted to take. And, now that I’m doing it, I know that it was right. I have no regrets,” he said.

Describing himself as a “committed trade unionist”, Darren did not hesitate when it came to taking up a student membership of the INMO last year.

“I was always involved in trade unions in my previous jobs so joining the INMO was an obvious thing that I was going to do. I actually joined before we had the presentation from the INMO at college, when I told the rep I didn’t need the form as I was already a member I don’t think she believed me!

“I think it is important that workers band together and act as one to achieve the best situations for everyone and to prevent employers from taking advantage. It’s not always adversarial, employers and unions can work together on a lot of things, you don’t go into it looking for rows but staying together on issues is your protection when required,” he added.

The issue of employment for graduates is at the top of Darren’s agenda.

“I would like to see Irish graduate nurses and midwives gain employment in the Irish health service, and not on these graduate contracts. They should be on the proper rate of pay,” he said.

“Being the only student on the Executive Council, I’m uniquely placed to bring student issues to Council level, the highest level in the Organisation. I will keep it on the agenda, though the INMO is completely behind students already,” he added.

The fear of unemployment, according to Darren, is already making undergraduates consider emigration.

“I did a straw poll in my class last year about plans for when we finish and most people said they were planning to leave, and already knew which country they are going to. They see emigration as inevitable so are planning towards it. It’s sad to see,” he said.

Darren also wants to keep students appraised of the work of the Executive Council which they might not be aware of.

“Being a student I am around other students all the time and I will keep them informed, not just my colleagues in DCU but students in the other universities too, some of whom you meet on placement in the hospitals.”

While he does not have the time to travel to other universities himself, Darren will liaise with Dean Flanagan, the full-time student and new graduate officer, in this regard.

“Dean facilitates the Student Section and I work with him locally. He is the main point of contact in the INMO for students. Every issue that concerns student nurses will also affect me, or my colleagues, but if people want to come to me I would be happy to hear from them. They can contact me with issues that are affecting them and I can bring it to the attention of Dean and the Executive Council if required.”

Darren advises all new students to inform themselves on all that the INMO can offer them as a student, such as the library, Professional Development Centre, Nurse2Nurse and even counselling support. “When the presentations are made to the first-year students they will be given all this information but often students are still unaware of the support that the Organisation offers. They offer great resources that should be taken advantage of,” he said.

His advice to first-year students is to get involved in all aspects of college life but not to forget about joining the INMO.

“Starting off, college can be daunting, Try to take it all in. It can be a bit overwhelming – coming into a whole new environment with a campus of thousands of other students. Don’t miss too many lectures or classes as this will put you under stress later. Have fun but don’t go overboard on alcohol. Try to soak it all up. Get involved in clubs and societies. Get involved with the INMO especially, and try to enjoy it,” he said.

Students who want to get in touch with Darren can email him at: darren.ocearuill3@mail.dcu.ie

Darren also recommends joining the closed Facebook group run by Dean Flanagan ‘A Call to Action – INMO Newly Qualified Nurses and Midwives Group’.

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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:+353 1 664 0600 E:inmo@inmo.ie