Luck O’ the Irish: NPs Strike Gold in Ireland

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Don’t forget to go green as you head off to work today.  This morning I was thinking about how to tie the nurse practitioner profession into the holiday.  My initial idea was to write something along the lines of “green things in medicine” but the topic quickly took an icky turn and I realized my stomach just couldn’t handle it.  A much better plan was to look into what life is like for our Irish colleagues.

Unlike many other countries, nurse practitioners practicing in Ireland have a defined and established role in the country.  With Ireland’s expanding population and shortage of physicians (sound familiar?), NPs in Ireland are uniquely positioned to play an important role in the country’s healthcare.  Let’s take a closer look.

History of Nurse Practitioners in Ireland

Nurse practitioners first made their mark in Ireland in 1996 helping to provide care in the emergency department.  St. James’s Hospital in Dublin noticed an increasing number of patients visiting the emergency department with minor injuries.  Modeling the NP role after their neighbors in the UK, the National Council of Nursing responded by establishing a nurse practitioner place in the country.  They put together a formal scope of practice structure standardizing an advanced role for nurses.  The National Council of Nursing outlined a framework for further developing the role of NPs in Ireland paving the way for nurse practitioners in fields other than ER like primary care, cardiology and neonatology.

What does the role of NPs in Ireland look like?

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The role of nurse practitioners practicing in Ireland looks remarkably similar to that of NPs in the U.S.  NPs in Ireland diagnose and treat patients autonomously with an emphasis on health promotion and preventative practice.

Job placement for nurse practitioners in Ireland looks a bit different than in the U.S.  A nurse practitioner position, including job description and site preparation, must first be approved by the National Council of Nurses.  Then, the individual NP applies to be accredited in the approved post.  This process is in place to ensure the nurse practitioner is properly certified and that NP positions are implemented in a way that will be meaningful to the public.

What does it take to become an NP in Ireland?

Nurse practitioners practicing in Ireland must be nurses first.  Before becoming eligible to work as an NP, 7 years of experience including 5 years of experience in one’s selected specialty is required.  In addition to experience, nurses must be educated at the master’s level in a nurse practitioner program specific to their specialty of interest.  Currently, seven universities offer master’s programs for nurses.

NPs in Ireland Love Their Jobs!

Not only has implementing a place for nurse practitioners in the Irish healthcare system paid off by increasing access to affordable medical care, nurse practitioners practicing in Ireland enjoy high rates of job satisfaction.  100 percent of NPs report satisfaction with their level of autonomy, sense of accomplishment, challenge, and status in their healthcare organization.  It looks like becoming a nurse practitioner is a little pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for nurses in Ireland.

While it is difficult for NPs practicing in the U.S. to get work permits in Ireland, if you are interested in practicing overseas the U.S. Department of State hires nurse practitioners to work abroad.  Their programs provide an excellent opportunity to get involved in the NP global scene while still working under U.S. credentials.


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