Anna Kavanagh

Having just finished her Leaving Certificate, Anna Kavanagh was considering a career in nursing, however, she encountered two problems.  Firstly, like many eighteen year old’s, she wasn’t really sure that it was right career for her as she had very little knowledge and no experience of the nursing world.  Secondly, she had insufficient points to secure a place in Ireland.

Anna adopted a sensible approach and undertook the QQI level 5 course in Nursing Studies.  This enhanced her knowledge in subjects directly relevant to nursing such as anatomy, physiology, infection prevention and care skills.  It also provided her with eight weeks hands-on nursing experience.  This in-depth understanding of the role of the nurse confirmed that nursing was the right career path for her.  She explains, “The course qualifies me to work as a healthcare assistant, which is a great job … it also provides an alternative route for me to re-apply for nursing studies courses at home and abroad”.

Children’s nursing is where Anna saw herself and Anna started to put plans in place to pursue her career goal.   She wanted to apply to universities in England.  The UK equivalent of CAO is UCAS and making an application is complex and can appear daunting to those new to the system.  Susan Giblin, the head of department, helped Anna with her application, she says, A big challenge that I had was filling out my UCAS application and Susan helped me a lot with this. I would not have been able to do it without her. Any questions I had about the course, I emailed Susan and got a quick and helpful reply. She made sure that anyone with any problem could approach her”. 

Both Anna and Susan were delighted when her application was successful, and she was offered a position to commence her nursing studies in London.  Anna believes that this was the best way to secure a place in nursing for her and proudly tells us that “this course has gotten me into university and ultimately, it has gotten me my dream job!”.

Do you want to study nursing in Ireland or UK?


The points required for nursing studies in Ireland are high and often school leavers who have the aptitude and personality for nursing lack the required points.  Undertaking a one-year nursing studies course can provide an alternative route to studying nursing at Irish Universities and Institutes of Technology.

How does it work?  There is a quota of places reserved for students holding QQI major awards.  When applying for one of these places, it is the results of the QQI Level 5 award in Nursing Studies which are considered rather than leaving certificate results. Students apply through the CAO system during their course and their results are then forwarded for consideration.


The UCAS system accepts applications for Nursing Studies courses at all UK Universities.  The process includes completing an application form and personal statement which are submitted online.  Students are then required to attend an interview.

At Portobello, the Student Support Clinics help those on the nursing course to achieve the best possible grades.  Assistance with making applications and interview preparation is also provided.  For further information please see here.

Anna Kavanagh Anna Kavanagh