‘‘It is important that younger people are encouraged to believe in themselves and if possible to embark on an educational pathway.’’ Mary McDonnell Naughton Lecturer in Nursing and Health Sciences

What does International Woman’s Day mean to you?

It is an important day for women around the world to celebrate their achievements, and also to believe in themselves.

Can you tell us about your own role in AIT and a little about your background?

Currently, I am employed in the role of Lecturer in the Department of Nursing and Health Care, Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT). This role encompasses many enjoyable facets. I am also the Chair of AIT’s Research Ethics Committee including Socio-Economic and Community Engagement. This extends to campuses engaging actively with the community. I also work on National and European studies looking at the concept of healthy aging and the positive contribution that the older person makes to society. I also co-ordinate and design educational programmes for Nurses and other health professionals.

I commenced my General nursing career in the International Medical Missionaries Hospital in Drogheda, completing my Midwifery education in London. I travelled and worked in New York and Melbourne. Along the way I completed BSc. in Nursing, MEd. from Trinity College and my PhD. from the
College of Medicine in UCD. Prior to my commencement in AIT, I was employed in two organisations namely the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and the Irish Sudden Infant Death Association (ISIDA) in the Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street. In the RCSI I worked as the Director of the Master of Science in Primary Heath Care programme and in the education of Practice Nurses. I was also the Registrar of ISDIA’s National Child Health Register.


What do you think we can be doing to inspire and encourage more young people?

It is important that younger people are encouraged to believe in themselves and if possible to embark on an educational pathway. It is vital that if someone does not achieve the actual points in their Leaving Certificate, to get into a certain programme, that they realise it is not the end of the world. Educational opportunities today afford younger people wonderful chances at various stages of their lives and they can build on programmes, moving from Certificate, to Degree, to Masters and PhD’s if they wish. It is also important to recognise that life is not only about points, that there are several ways to carve out a career. Life experiences helps and assists in having an informed conscience, no matter what they decide do.

What women have had the greatest Impact on your life, and why? (a real woman from your life or historic).

On a personal level, my late mother and grandmother, both whom travelled and worked abroad, along with my late mother-in-law who also happens to have been a nurse.

Florence Nightingale from a historical perspective who was instrumental in the role of the nurse and stressed the importance of delivering care in a kind caring way accompanied by scientific knowledge.

Men have also had an impact on my life, I was and am privileged to work with some great men both personally and professionally.

What is your greatest achievement in work to date?

Greatest achievement, not so sure, I hope and trust that I have left a mark on those I was privileged to educate, the importance of treating everyone with respect and at all times reflect the core values of giving compassionate, competent care.

What inspired you to pursue your career?

I always wanted to be a nurse and I have greatly benefited from this choice as it has enabled me to do a variety of different jobs along with been privileged to be a part of a great team in the education of health professionals. I have also worked in research accompanied by the delivery of a service which assisted me in meeting people from various walks of life. I hope and trust that I assisted them in every way possible.

What do I want most for the women of tomorrow?

To believe in themselves and recognise that the World is their Oyster.

How to strive for, achieve, and maintain balance in our lives?

It is important to achieve balance but recognising that there are times in the year where one area (work versus personal) might tip the scales. It is also vital to recognise what and who is important to you.

What advice will you give to your younger self?

Believe in yourself, believe in God, whoever or whatever you believe her or him to be and at all times do your best in whatever area you are in, whether work, home or play!

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